The Best Places for Young Families in Utah
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If you are looking for a good place to raise your family, you already know it’s a matter of shifting priorities and then weighing the alternatives. Instead of focusing on that next big job break or dream apartment, young families usually start weighing factors such as job security, affordable housing, good school districts and neighborhoods with lots of other families. It’s unlikely a single community will meet every check point on your list, but it’s still possible to pin down a place that truly feels like home and meets most of your family’s needs.
Utah is a state that might work for many young families. According to a recent report from the Utah Economic Council, the state is still one of the fastest-growing and one of the youngest, with a median age of 30.9. It has also led U.S. job growth since 2010, although 80% of its growth comes from four counties: Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Washington. If you’re thinking of moving to Utah, keep reading to see how researchers at LendingTree ranked the best places for young families.
- Nibley is the best place to raise a family in Utah, with a final score of 76.5.
- Hyde Park and Providence take the second and third spots, with final scores of 71.3 and 71.1, respectively.
- On the other end of the list, we found South Salt Lake to be the most challenging place for young families in Utah, with a final score of 36.0.
- Midvale and Moab finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 38.4 and 43.3, respectively.
The top 10 cities to live in Utah
No. 1: Nibley
Nibley is in northeastern Utah, some 40 miles from Bear Lake, a popular recreation destination. It topped our list mostly because it has one of the highest homeownership rates for families with children (93.3%) and the highest percentage of households with children (67.3%). Housing costs relative to household income appear to be higher here than in three similar, top 10 communities, but both job and school prospects seem better, too. For example, Nibley has a 100% employment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds — the typical age range for young parents — and virtually all 16- to 19-year-olds are either enrolled or have graduated from high school.
No. 2: Hyde Park
Near the city of Logan and Utah State University, Hyde Park has both a very high rate of homeownership (92.3%) and high percentage of households with children (46.6%). Residents here pay less to own and maintain their homes ($1,090 per month) than they do in Nibley, and household income is higher, too. Hyde Park has the shortest average commute time for a top 10 city on our list, less than 16 minutes. Unemployment is relatively low, but this rural community still has a 3% unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds, the second highest percentage on our list.
No. 3: Providence
Located north of Nibley, the small city of Providence offers residents both a relatively low cost of living and a chance to spend less time in their cars. Here, the household income is relatively low compared to other top picks, $87,417 per year, but the median monthly housing cost of $1,007 per month is the lowest on our list. Commuters in Providence take an average of just 16.9 minutes to get to work. The city also appears to offer strong job and school prospects for residents.
No. 4: Highland
Located about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, Highland took fourth place mostly because of an impressively high median income for families with children, $138,814 per year, strong job prospects and good schools, and a family-friendly vibe. Here, some 87% of families with children own homes, and 62.3% of all households have children. Highland is in Utah County, where job growth has been especially strong lately.
No. 5: Plain City
Located in the Ogden metro area, and north of Salt Lake City, the small Plain City has almost a 97% rate of homeownership for families with children, the second-highest percentage for a top 10 Utah city. The median monthly housing cost of $1,236 is somewhat low compared to what families might find in cities with similar household incomes, such as Kaysville and Lehi. Job prospects here appear excellent. However, 8.1% of Plain City older teens are either not enrolled or haven’t graduated from high school. That number isn’t the highest we found in Utah, but it is the highest for our 10 best places.
No. 6: Alpine
Located in northern Utah County, and roughly midway between Salt Lake City and Provo, Alpine stands out for its very high household income; at $164,861 per year, it’s the highest on our top 10 list. Housing costs here appear to be in line with household income, and almost 84% of households with children own homes. Probably because of the city’s location, commuters take an average of 26.3 minutes to get to work, the second-highest time on our list. But almost 50% of households have children, and Alpine, like fourth-rated Highland, is located in a county where job growth has been especially lit lately.
No. 7: Kaysville
North of Salt Lake Valley, Kaysville has a relatively low cost of housing — $1,294 per month — compared to a median household income of $97,589. Half of households here have children, but of those households, 91.1% own homes. The rate of unemployment here is slightly higher than it is for most Utah communities on our top 10 list.
No. 8: Lehi
Lehi is one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah and is part of the Wasatch Front, a strip of communities located next to the Wasatch Mountains that is often referred to as the “Silicon Slopes.” Unemployment here is almost negligible for 25- to 44-year-olds, and Lehi also has one of the highest percentages of households with children, 63.4%. Still, as might be expected in a popular area, housing costs more here than in a few top 10 communities where incomes are either similar or higher. Lehi has the fourth-lowest median household income for a top 10 Utah community and the fourth-highest median housing cost, $1,447 per month.
No. 9: Lindon
Just 45 minutes south of Salt Lake City, Lindon has a relatively high median income, $100,750 per year, compared to a median monthly housing cost of $1,399. Residents here can expect a better work-life balance on the travel front; the average commute time is one of the lowest on our list, just 17.6 minutes. Like every top 10 city in Utah, more than 80% of Lindon families with children own homes.
Hooper is situated on the delta of the Weber River, which is just three miles east of Great Salt Lake, the largest natural lake in the western U.S. With a median monthly housing cost of $1,525, Hooper is the third most expensive place on our top 10 list. However, the median household income here is also one of the highest, $103,164 per year, and the homeownership rate, 97.2%, is the highest for a top 10 city. Still, Hooper’s No. 10 ranking reflects a community where housing costs are generally higher, as is the average commute time. Here, it’s more than 28 minutes, the longest time for a top-ranked community in Utah.
Understanding the rankings
We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 4,058 people in Utah for how good they are for young families, which were then scored to create an overall ranking of the best places for young families. The seven indicators we used were:
- Median family income: Money isn’t everything, but a place with high family incomes suggests a place with good job opportunities and a community with more resources.
- Median monthly housing costs for all households: For families already dealing with new child care expenses, reasonably affordable housing is important.
- Homeownership rate of families with children: This indicates where homeownership is both more common and — perhaps important for a family looking to buy — more practical.
- Unemployment rate of 25- to 44-year-olds: This indicates where the job market is healthy and suggests a higher quality of life locally. We focused on 25- to 44-year-olds in particular to capture the most common ages for parents of young families.
- Percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds not enrolled or graduated from high school: To estimate high school graduation rates and, therefore, school quality, we calculated the percentage of older teenagers who were not in high school yet had no high school degree. This number is not the actual high school dropout rate, but is well-correlated.
- Average commute time: Shorter commutes mean less stressed workers who have more time to spend with their families.
- Percentage of households that have children: A community with more children means that other families have already decided it’s attractive. It also usually means more educational and recreational activities suitable for children and their parents and that residents are concerned about policies that benefit families with kids.
Analysts used data from the 2017 5-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. Each of the seven metrics was given a value according to its relative location between the highest and lowest values. The values were then summed and divided by seven for an equal weighting. The analysis was limited to Census-designated places with populations of at least 4,058.