Raising kids is a tough job. No question. And raising them in a location that adds more challenges to the equation is one mistake to avoid. Easier said than done to live in an ideal location though, I know. My family knows everything about living in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In an ideal world, you'll be located in a safe and supportive environment for raising a family. Just in case you're thinking about upping sticks and moving to another country though, Norway and Finland rank at the top of the list for best places in the world to live. (Though they're also two of the most expensive, but you saw that coming). The US comes in at a somewhat depressing 36th place in the ranking.
In this article, we explore 18 of the worst places in America to raise a family. We'll look at crime rates, employment and schooling, among other important concerns. If you're worried about where you live, and have the opportunity to re-locate, do it. If you can't, ensure you're educated about the resources available to you and your family, and do what you can make where you live a better place.
18 Orlando, Florida
You are probably thinking to yourself 'Well then, I did not expect to see Orlando crop up!' And before I researched for this article, it was not one city I would have thought about featuring on this list.
I mean, the place is the home to Disney World! Kids all over the world dream about going to Orlando day in day out. We think about princesses and fireworks and dreams coming true when we think about Orlando...and the 95 million or so tourists who visit Florida each year.
But put Disney World aside and there's high crime rates in the city, as well as a considerable amount of households without health insurance. Many public schools in Florida aren't all that good either. Though this has more to do with low funding rather than bad teachers.
17 Los Angeles, California
While it might be doable for singles, families really should think twice before making LA home. For starters, air quality is a really serious problem, and crime and the cost of living is frankly, ridiculous. If you want to survive, you should be bringing in at least $3,000 a month, and even with that going into your bank account, you can forget about being near the beach or Hollywood.
Materialism is also a big issue in LA - there is a reason it's called La-La Land. Everyone wants fame and fortune and, for much of LA's population, money is the be all and end all. Materialism is one of the big warning signs for me as a mother-to-be, as it should be for any parent. Exposing your child too young to the hype around fame and money can, as well already know, have disastrous and tragic consequences.
16 Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is not the sort of place you would expect to bring your kids on holiday, let alone to live. For as long as I have been alive, it has had the reputation of being an 'adult' destination, for reasons I don't think I need to explain.
There's problems with crime both in and around the city, and getting employment outside of the hospitality sector can be really difficult. Traffic is also a massive problem in Las Vegas, and according to Social Lifestyle Mag it's home to some of the most aggressive drivers in the US. Also, you can forget about the rush hour you are used to...in Las Vegas it is rush hour ALL DAY.
The schools in Las Vegas are also struggling...in the sense that they are unable to find enough teachers for the growing population. This is predominantly due to the low salaries.
15 Memphis, Tennessee
Tennessee's capital Nashville is regularly considered one of the top places to raise a family. Memphis however, isn't so lucky. While it's the birth place of Rock 'n' Roll - families are able to have a tour of Elvis's Graceland estate - has some excellent museums and is home to the Memphis Botanic Garden, outside of these appealing sounding activities, there is a lot of room for improvement.
The crime rates in Memphis are high, without thousands of violent and property crimes reported each year. There's high level of unemployment - 4.9 % as of April 2017 - is also a depressing statistic.
Memphis also has some of the lowest performing schools in the state of Tennessee. Health insurance is also an issue in the city, with 19.8% of households without health care coverage.
14 Detroit, Michigan
I'm not gonna lie here, Detroit AKA The Motor City, was one of the first places that came to mind when I thought about bad places to raise a family.
It's been drilled into me since childhood - by films, TV and word of mouth - that Detroit has a bad reputation, and is a place you will always want to avoid if you can, even if you don't have a family.
It's not an attractive place for kids to grow up, with its sky high crime rates - predominantly because of poverty and a low tax base - and bad rankings for education and pretty terrible options for housing. Also, as of 2015 it also has the second highest murder rate in the US.
13 St Louis, Missouri
In 2016, St Louis was ranked to be the worst city in the US for young families, and sadly this remains to be the case. The crime rate is through the roof, the schools are considered - even by people who live there - to be lousy and there isn't enough work available to justify starting a new life there with a young family.
There are also reports that say it is one of the most dangerous cities to live in...in the world, with a staggering 35 murders per 1000 people, according to the New York Times. Unsurprisingly, it's also happens to be one of the unhappiest cites in the country. If you're not one for crowded places, St Louis is most definitely a choice you want to avoid, as it's regularly noted for its high population density.
12 Jackson, Mississippi
Some of the worst cities to raise children are to be found in the south of the country. One of the main contributing factors is the lagging economy and tragically high crime rates. In Jackson, the schools have a tough time too and are mostly poorly rated. I've also read about a lack of culture outside of the fundamentalist Christian church.
Many of the residents of Jackson are uneducated, illiterate and surviving on welfare. According to Janice Fulright, one former resident of Jackson, "It is certainly NOT an environment that is conducive to fostering family values, a respect for religion and hard work."
It's also down on luck when it comes to health. In 2016 CNBC reported that the state of Mississippi is one of the unhealthiest states in the US with high rates of obesity, diabetes and infant mortality.
11 Miami, Florida
Miami has never been a city that embraces family life. When you think about Miami what comes to mind? For me it's illegal substances, fake boobs and corruption galore. The cost of a house in Miami is enough to make you dizzy and the salary rate for your average family is laughable if you want to survive out there.
There can also be a problem when it comes to language. If you and your family don't speak Spanish, you would want to learn, as 58.2% of the city's population speaks it.
Materialism is also an issue in Miami. It's about what car you drive, how big your house is, what clothes you and your kids are wearing. The pressure to appear wealthy means that many people live beyond their means.
10 New Orleans, Louisiana
It cannot be looked over that the city of New Orleans has done an astonishing job of rebuilding itself following the disaster that Hurricane Katrina brought along with her.
Sadly though, it is a city that continues to be plagued with crime and high unemployment. A report from The Data Center's New Youth Index have shown that the children in New Orleans tend to be in worse shape than other children living in the state of Louisiana.
Many live in poverty - in 2015 44% of children in New Orleans lived below the poverty level - more die in infancy and a high percentage have parents who are unemployed. The murder rates for young adults is also depressingly high, not something you want to hear when you want to bring up a happy, healthy child.
9 Phoenix, Arizona
There is plenty to keep kids occupied in Phoenix, and you can be guaranteed good weather. But there is a high crime rate and a poor educational system rating. That good weather can also work against you, especially during the summer months.
The temperatures rise so high that it's almost impossible to go outside safely. And summer is LONG. It starts in April and doesn't end until October. It probably won't come as a surprise to learn that Arizona has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Remember that it does sit on the edge of the Sonoran Desert.
Bringing up your child will mostly involve making sure that they are wearing enough sun screen. As well as a killer sun, there's also scorpions. You will need to keep an eye out for those, even in your own home.
8 The Bronx, New York
The Bronx the majority of us have seen is a crime ridden, poverty stricken landscape where the majority of children have difficult, rough upbringings. One of the issues that repeatedly pops up when The Bronx is on the news is the lack of quality schooling.
According to NY Daily News, "93% of the district’s students are economically disadvantaged; the power of learning is sometimes lost in the darkness of an unpaid electrical bill." One in ten students is homeless and school attendance is among the lowest in the city. Only 10% of elementary and middle schoolers are actually considered proficient in reading.
You might be thinking 'and what about the danger?' I'll let Bronx resident Joe Finkle tell you about that: "The Bronx isn't so dangerous per se, but it can be dangerous for certain people. People who don't know which neighborhoods are safe and which aren't."
7 Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is big. A sprawling metropolitan area with more than 5 million people, which of course means the traffic is terrible. It's even won awards for how unpleasant the traffic system is. A three mile drive in Atlanta can, apparently, take up to an hour. Yes, you read that right.
I can't imagine taking the kids to school in the morning would be anything other than a horrendously stressful experience. And when they're old enough, you wouldn't want them biking to school as only 84 miles of the city's 1,584 miles of paved streets are equipped with bike paths or trails. The jobs tend to be low paying, and if you want a home in a decent area, you'll be paying through the nose for it.
It also gets really hot and drought is a major concern - not something you want when you have young children.
6 Milwaukee, Wisconsin
When you are looking for somewhere to raise your family, you want to know that it's a welcoming place that embraces all cultures. You also want to know that the local government spends their money wisely, on schools and traffic management and the like. Sadly in Milwaukee, this doesn't seem to be the case, as resident Odyssey Xiong explains:
"To be real with you, the city has issues. Especially for African Americans and minorities. Money that could be used to for education, city management, and other programs are being put into building a basketball arena for a team that people don't really follow."
In my research I read dozens of comments from Milwaukee residents who warn people thinking about moving to the city, to steer well clear of the public schools.
5 Austin, Texas
According to a recent study by Movinga, Austin is the 5th most expensive city in the US. Not good news when you're raising a family, which is a costly enough business as it is. The price of your average house is...you might want to sit down for this...$375,000 as of December 2006. Back in December 2011 it was $210,000.
Austin is also a terrible idea if you or your little ones happen to have allergies, particularly pollen allergies. From December to March you need to be prepared for 'cedar fever,' which is an allergy to the pollen of the Ashe juniper tree which is in abundance around central Texas.
Symptoms can mimic the flu and include inflammation, fatigue, headaches, clogged sinus and eye irritation. The 2017 cedar season has actually been declared the worst on record.
4 New York, New York
I have a bit of a soft spot for New York, as I'm sure many of you do to, but dreams of minimalistic loft apartments and romantic walks in Central Park with a salted pretzel aside, there's plenty of reasons why you ought to avoid the Big Apple when it comes to raising a family.
Unless you're super wealthy and are able to afford $3,500 on your rent every month, you will have to live in a shoe box. Practically. You will have heard all sorts of complaints from people around the world about the cost of living in their city, but New York takes it to another dimension.
It's also loud, crowded and stinky. Over 8 million people live in NYC and while dodging people on the sidewalk might not be a problem to begin with, that and other things will start to annoy you pretty bloody quickly.
3 Washington D.C., Virginia
You would think that the location of the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument would be a good and wholesome place to raise kids. But you'd be wrong.
The poverty rate in Washington D.C. is an astonishingly high 17.3% with an unemployment of 5.9%. Naturally both of these figures contribute to the crime that ravages the city. In 2016 alone, 134 murders were committed in Washington D.C. Robbery is also a common problem in the city and over 8,000 violent crimes were committed.
Washington DC is also a city known for its high stress level - really not something you want to hear as the mom of a young family! Residents tend to work long hours and tend to sacrifice their personal lives for the sake of their careers.
2 Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore is a city plagued with poverty. A massive 84% of children in Baltimore are eligible for free or reduced price lunches at school. And if that isn't the most depressing thing you've read in this article, well, in many instances, students depend on the school for food. If school is closed, they don't eat. To add, Baltimore is one of the top cities to receive food stamps.
As well as being a poverty stricken city, Baltimore is also considered one of the most dangerous cities in the US. Walking after dark is a big no no and you're always best off sticking to places where you know there's going to be a lot of people. Forget about carrying valuables with you, too. Walking aimlessly in Baltimore can get you hurt.
1 Frenso, California
Fresno is a city located in California's San Joaquin Valley and it's the base for the spectacular Yosemite National Park, renowned for its waterfalls and giant rock formations.
Sadly, however, in recent years the Central Valley of California has found itself fallen on hard times, and this is especially felt in Frenso. Crime and unemployment are rife, especially downtown, and the school ratings are not in the slightest bit desirable. Frenso is also reknowned for its bad air quality.
On Yelp.com many people expressed their anger about the lack of jobs available and the lack of an educated workforce. On city-data.com, commenter cleaosmom said about Frenso: "My view of the negative; high crime area, fog, smog, gangs, heck you have security guards at most grocery stores! The high schools by now I'm certain have metal detectors (not 100% on this having been out of the area for 15 years)."
Sources: TheClever.com, TravelVersed.co, Reddit.com, NeighbourhoodScout.com, WashingtonPost.com