The United States is an extremely mobile country compared to most of the world. A Gallup survey in 2013 found that 24 percent of Americans reported moving in the last five years, putting the U.S. above nearly every other country.
According to the Census Bureau, 11.7 percent of the population moved between 2012 and 2013. And 30 percent of those who moved did so for "family-related reasons," the Wall Street Journal reported.
To assist families, both young and old, who are considering moving this year, Wallet Hub released a list ranking 150 U.S. cities on their levels of family-friendliness.
The report uses several factors to determine the rankings, including family fun, safety, affordability, education and child care and the social and economic environment of the city.
The top 10 best cities for families are:
1. Plano, Texas
Plano, in northeastern Texas, ranked first for both socio-economic environment and education, and seventh for both affordability and health and safety. As of 2012, it had a population of 272,068 and a median household income of $80,184, compared to a state median income of $49,392. The city has five libraries and a genealogical center, as well as nearly 100 recreation centers, including parks, pools, golf courses and art and culture centers. The Plano Independent School District has a total of 66 campuses to support over 50,000 students, and 23 campuses have received the National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence award from the Department of Education. According to the district's website, "Ninety-four percent of Plano graduates pursue higher education."
2. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota with a population of 238,000, is ranked second for affordability and third for socio-economic environment. Unemployment fell from 4 percent to 3.1 percent in 2013, according to the city website. (The national unemployment rate sits at 6.3 percent.) Forbes ranked the city as No. 1 on its list of "Best Small Places for Business and Careers," and reported that the cost of living is 5 percent below the national average. Sioux Falls also has a developing cultural center downtown, housing several festivals and art exhibits, and is the home of South Dakota's Great Plains Zoo.
3. Overland Park, Kansas
Overland Park, population 178,941, ranked fourth for education, sixth for affordability and seventh for socio-economic environment. Residents feed into four different public school districts, and one district, Blue Valley, recently launched an initiative to compete with other schools on a global scale. The district website says, "Students' scores in math and reading place Blue Valley seventh and fourth respectively, right behind Finland. Blue Valley's long-term goal is to be the best in the world. Blue Valley's short-term goal is to beat Finland." The city has a high rate of citizens with advanced degrees and is the location of the main corporate offices for Sprint, according to City-data.com.
4. Fremont, California
Fremont ranked second for socio-economic rank and eighth for health and safety. The city, population 221,986, has a median household income of $92,655, compared to a median California income of $57,000. The city website indicates its economic strength comes in part from a wealth of "innovative firms, including over 1,200 high-tech, life science, and clean technology firms," that reside in or near the city. Fremont has lower levels of lead and ozone in the environment than the national average, and the city focuses on promoting clean business practices. According to a 2014 report, citywide greenhouse emissions decreased 11 percent between 2005 and 2010.
5. Irvine, California
Irvine, the second California city in the top five, tied with Fremont for an eighth-place ranking in health and safety and also ranked eighth for socio-economic environment. The city ranked 11th in education and boasts a 90 percent college entrance rate for graduates of the Irvine Unified School District. It is the home of the University of California, Irvine, which U.S. News & World Report ranked No. 49 on its list of best American universities. According to Business Insider, Irvine ranked as the safest city in the United States for nine years in row, with only 110 violent crimes per its 223,000 population in 2013.
6. Virginia Beach, Virginia
The coastal city and popular tourist destination, population 447,021, ranked seventh for education and 12th for socio-economic environment. All Virginia Beach public high schools were ranked among the most challenging high schools in the nation in a report by the Washington Post. The district has recently implemented a program that aims to have 95 percent of the class of 2015 graduated and college-ready. The economy is based mainly on "private enterprise, thriving tourism and a strong military presence," according to City-data.com.
7. Lincoln, Nebraska
This Midwestern city of 265,404 ranked first for affordability and fifth for socio-economic environment. According to Forbes, Lincoln has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, and the cost of living is 10.2 percent lower than the national average. It is also ranked fourth on Forbes' list of Best Places for Business and Careers, and was included on Livability.com's Top 10 list of cities with the most affordable health care. The city also has a children's zoo and children's museum, as well as many parks, gardens and other wildlife areas that will entertain young children, according to Tripbuzz.com.
8. Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is ranked first overall for family fun and activities and fourth for socio-economic environment. The city, population 298,610, offers many nature-themed activities for families, including plays and movies about Alaska, hiking trails and bear and salmon viewings. Forbes listed Anchorage at No. 5 for job growth in the country. According to City-data.com, "Anchorage is the state's primary transportation, communications, trade, service, and finance center." The oil and gas industries, miliary bases, transportation industry and tourism industry offer plenty of opportunities for employment.
9. Gilbert, Arizona
Gilbert, population 221,140, ranked third for affordability and sixth for socio-economic environment. Gilbert has "the highest percentages of 'family households' in the state," according to the city website. The median income is $71,207, which is $25,000 higher than the median income of the state.
10. Amarillo, Texas
The second Texas city to crack the top 10, Amarillo ranked ninth for education and child care and 10th for affordability. Amarillo, population 195,250, is sustained economically mainly through agribusiness and education. The cost of living is 7.6 below the national average, according to Forbes.
Emily Hales is an intern on the national team, covering issues facing families in the United States. She is a communications major at Brigham Young University.