The Best Places for Young Families in Louisiana
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For many Americans, starting a family is one of the most significant financial events in their lives. No matter where they live, parents hope to provide stability and opportunity to their children and provide the next generation with the best possible start in life.
Louisiana families might be wondering where, exactly, their state offers the best combination of economic opportunities and family-friendly living. New rankings from LendingTree compared data important to family life such as employment, housing costs, commute times and schooling in more than 100 places in the state. Read on to see our rankings of the best Louisiana cities and communities for young families.
- Prien is the best place to raise a family in Louisiana, with a final score of 71.0 out of a possible 100.
- Carlyss and Inniswold take the second and third spots, with final scores of 69.7 and 67.2, respectively.
- On the other end of the list, we found Ville Platte to be the most challenging place for young families in Louisiana, with a final score of 39.8.
- Grambling and Jeanerette finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 40.1 and 43.4, respectively.
The top 10 cities to live in Louisiana
Prien stands out as the top place in Louisiana for families to buy a home. This suburb of Lake Charles also has some of the highest-income families, with the median income for a household with children at $106,689. By comparison, local housing costs just $808 per month (median).
This means a typical Prien family has to spend just 9% of income on housing expenses, making it easier to meet 2019 mortgage lending requirements and buy a home. This is borne out by the 93% of families with children that own their homes, the highest rate of homeownership in the state.
While Prien stands out thanks to higher incomes and homeownership rates among families, one factor to watch for is its local school performance. This town has a high rate of teenagers not in school, with 8.4% of those 16 to 19 not enrolled in or graduated from high school.
Another Lake Charles suburb, Carlyss has a lower median family income than its neighbor, at $59,714. But this income is still above average for the state and is backed by a lower unemployment rate of 2.2% among workers ages 25 to 44. Working parents here also benefit from a shorter commute of just 18 minutes on average.
Carlyss also offers the lowest housing costs of any place among the 10 best for Louisiana families. The median monthly housing cost of Carlyss is $614, which makes it an affordable place for a high number of families to live — 46.8% of local households have children.
Louisiana families also thrive in Inniswold, a Baton Rouge suburb that boasts a 0% rate of students of high school age who aren’t enrolled or haven’t graduated. This is a sign of a strong local school system with positive outcomes for students.
Inniswold also has a healthy job market where parents have greater access to high-paying opportunities. This is shown by a median income of $128,136 for families, the highest among these 10 top cities. It’s also supported by a low unemployment rate among workers ages 25 to 44 of 0.7%. Commute times to work average roughly 22 minutes.
At No. 4 is another Lake Charles suburb, Sulphur. This places among the Top 10 mainly for its low housing costs relative to family income. Median housing costs are just $688 per month, while households with children have a median income of $60,536.
Sulphur also has higher rates of homeownership among families — 70.8% of households with children own their home. This city also scores favorably for shorter commute times (18.3 minutes on average) and low rate of high school–age students not in school or without a diploma (1.9%).
5. Red Chute
In northern Louisiana, families are doing well in Red Chute. This suburb of Shreveport has a 0% rate of high school–age students not in school or who have not graduated, a sign of good local schools where students succeed.
For parents, career and employment opportunities are plentiful, too. Red Chute has one of the lowest unemployment rates among the Top 10, at 2.1%. It also has a higher median household income for families, at $90,234.
Higher incomes, a stable job market and lower housing costs (median of $851 per month) can all give Red Chute families a leg up on buying a home and getting approved for a mortgage. As a result, a high 82.3% of families with children own their homes.
6. Moss Bluff
Moss Bluff, another Lake Charles suburb, comes in at No. 6 on this list. It has more families in Louisiana than anywhere else among the Top 10, as 42.4% of households have children. There’s also a 0% rate of teens not in high school but not graduated, a sign of schools that lead to positive outcomes for students.
Homeownership is accessible here, too, as shown by the 77.5% rate of families here who own their homes. Parents and guardians in Moss Bluff are also among the higher earners in Louisiana, with a median income of $75,370 for these families. Median housing costs are $819 per month. Its commuting time is higher than some other towns in the ranking, at 25.6 minutes.
Next is Broussard, a suburb of Lafayette, that stands out thanks to high incomes and rates of homeownership for families. A typical family with kids at home can comfortably make ends meet, thanks to a median income of $96,803 and a lower unemployment rate of 2.3%. This area also has a 0% rate of teens who neither are in high school nor have graduated.
Higher living expenses mean families pay a bit more to reside in Broussard, with the $1,123 median monthly housing costs on the higher end for the state. This doesn’t seem to be much of an obstacle to homeownership, however, as 88.3% of the 36% of families with children in this suburb own their own homes.
Just outside of New Orleans, Reserve is also among the best places to raise a family in Louisiana. Like other places on this list, Reserve has an impressive 0% rate of teens who neither are in high school nor have graduated. It also offers a family-centric environment, as 42.1% of households here include children.
Reserve offers fairly affordable housing, with median monthly costs of $695. For comparison, local families have an annual median income of $51,094. Commute times average 25 minutes.
9. Fort Polk South
At No. 9 is Fort Polk South, which scored very well by some measures — but had major tradeoffs for other family-friendly factors.
Home to a military base, Fort Polk South has higher living costs compared with many other areas in Louisiana. A family here will face median monthly housing costs of $1,131 — about 30% of gross monthly income for a family (based on an annual median income of $45,610).
Local military families might have a housing allowance to help pay these costs, which starts at $924 per month for service members with dependents. Military families also tend to rent because they have to relocate often, which could explain Fort Polk South’s low homeownership rates of just 1.6% among families.
This military town does have a few benefits, however: It has the highest concentration of families in the state: 71.2% of households have kids at home. With many heads of households working at the nearby base, these locals also have the shortest commute times in Louisiana (9.6 minutes on average) and one of the lowest unemployment rates (1.0%).
Just across the Red River from Alexandria, Pineville rounds out our top 10 best places for families to live in Louisiana.
Families here have a median household income of $50,685 per year, which puts them in the middle of the pack by this factor. Still, families can stretch their income further thanks to affordable housing costs, with a median monthly housing bill of $720.
A lower unemployment rate at 2.9% among adults ages 25 to 44 in Pineville also supports financial stability to local families. Plus, this locale offers some of the shortest commutes among the Top 10 at just 16.2 minutes.
Understanding the rankings
We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 5,000 people in each state 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 are:
- 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 childcare expenses, reasonably affordable housing is important.
- Homeownership rate of families with children: This indicates where homeownership is both more common and perhaps importantly 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 focus 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 5,000.