The Best Suburbs for Your Wallet — and Peace of Mind
The best places to raise a family are often found on the edges of large metropolitan areas, where residents enjoy a better standard of living for less as well as greater access to recreational spaces. It’s easy to see why the suburban lifestyle can be appealing: Overall, suburban communities tend to be wealthier, better-educated and healthier in comparison to their inner-city and rural counterparts.
To find the best suburbs in every state, GOBankingRates conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the cost of living, quality of schools and safety in suburban areas surrounding the biggest cities across the country. Factors in this study included:
Median home list price and median monthly rent, sourced from Zillow’s May 2019 index
Annual cost of groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017-18 Consumer Expenditure Survey
Quality of school districts, sourced from Niche
Violent and property crime rates per 1,000 residents, sourced from Neighborhood Scout
If you want to live in relative peace and comfort but still maintain access to top job opportunities within commuting distance, choosing to settle down in the suburbs may be the right choice for your family — and it won’t break the bank.
Last updated: Sept. 22, 2020
Birmingham: Vestavia Hills
Millbrook, a suburb of Montgomery, offers the third-cheapest average rent out of all the places on GOBankingRates’ list, at $964 per month. If you’re particularly concerned about your child’s education, Vestavia Hills City Schools near Birmingham received an overall A-plus grade from Niche. It’s one of 16 school districts on the list to earn this top rating.
This suburban area sees relatively high violent and property crime rates, witnessing 5.32 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 45.71 property crimes per 1,000 residents. But it’s not all bad news: Niche gave Wasilla’s local school district, Yakutat School District, a respectable A-minus grade for overall quality.
The top suburbs in Arizona have strengths in different areas. Buckeye offers lower housing costs, with a median home list price of $245,000 and an average rent of $1,364 per month. In comparison, the median home list price and average monthly rent in Vail are $284,995 and $1,557, respectively. However, Vail is cheaper for nonhousing necessities such as healthcare, utilities and transportation. The Vail Unified School District also received an attractive A grade for overall quality.
Little Rock: Cabot
Out of all the suburbs that made GOBankingRates’ list, Cabot charges the fifth-lowest average rent, at $1,036 per month. Since the median home list price is comfortably below $200,000, it’s also relatively inexpensive to purchase a dwelling here. The average home in Cabot costs only $179,900.
Los Angeles: Yorba Linda
San Diego: San Marcos
San Francisco: Pleasanton
San Jose: Cupertino
Housing in California is notoriously pricey. For example, the median home list price in Cupertino is $1,988,888, and the average rent is $4,548 per month — both of which are the most expensive in their respective categories by far. However, the Golden State provides a strong foundation for your child’s education. Seven out of the eight school districts in these California suburbs were graded an A-minus or higher in terms of overall quality.
Colorado Springs: Monument
Denver: Castle Rock
There are negligible differences between Monument and Castle Rock when it comes to housing costs. But the Colorado Springs suburb might be the better choice for parents prioritizing their children’s education. The Lewis-Palmer Consolidated School District No. 38 in Monument was awarded an A for overall quality, whereas the Douglas County School District No. RE-1 in Castle Rock received a solid but lesser grade of B-plus.
This Bridgeport suburb is relatively safe, with 0.18 violent crimes per 1,000 residents — the third-lowest rate out of all the suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. The Westport School District also earned a stellar A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality, which means it’s an ideal area to raise children if you can afford the high housing costs. The median home list price in Westport is $1,299,000, and the average rent is $2,122 per month.
Homes are especially affordable in this suburb of Wilmington. Elsmere offers the second-cheapest homes out of all the places on GOBankingRates’ list, at an average price of only $129,900. It’s not too expensive to rent here, either — the median monthly rent in Elsmere is $1,248.
Jacksonville: Fleming Island
Orlando: Altamonte Springs
Tampa: Sun City Center
Out of all the top Florida suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, Altamonte Springs has the least expensive housing: The median home list price is $188,950, and the average rent is $1,344 per month. If you’re more concerned about safety, look to Sun City Center. The suburb sees 0.77 violent crimes and 6.29 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which are better than the crime rates found in Fleming Island, Sunrise and Altamonte Springs.
Atlanta: Sugar Hill
Sugar Hill, the top suburb of Atlanta, has a median list price of $329,000 and an average monthly rent of $1,543. The combined cost of nonhousing necessities — including groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation — is $17,925.84 per year for residents. Additionally, Sugar Hill’s local school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools, earned a solid B-plus grade from Niche for overall quality.
At $25,209.06, the annual combined cost of nonhousing necessities in Mililani is the priciest out of all the suburbs included on GOBankingRates’ list. Still, this Honolulu suburb might be your best option in the Aloha State. No matter where you choose to settle down in Hawaii, it’s going to be expensive.
If you’re determined to provide your child with the best education, there’s a clear winner among Meridian’s three school districts based on overall quality. The Compass Public Charter School earned a decent B-plus grade from Niche, while the West Ada School District and Idaho Virtual Academy received B and C grades, respectively.
Overall, the combined cost of groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation in Meridian is relatively low, at $17,016.63 per year.
Chicago: Buffalo Grove
Chicago might be one of the best cities to raise a family. The Windy City’s top suburb, Buffalo Grove, has the fourth-lowest violent crime rate and the fifth-lowest property crime rate out of all the suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. Buffalo Grove residents witness 0.24 violent crimes and 5.46 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Fort Wayne: New Haven
New Haven, the top suburb of Fort Wayne, offers the fifth-cheapest median home list price out of all the suburbs on this list, at $148,900. However, Indianapolis’ best suburb is decidedly safer. Lebanon witnesses 0.88 violent crimes and 6.58 property crimes per 1,000 residents, compared to 2.44 violent crimes and 21.59 property crimes per 1,000 residents in New Haven.
Des Moines: Norwalk
This Des Moines suburb ranks relatively well across most categories in the study. Norwalk experiences 0.83 violent crimes and 8.26 property crimes per 1,000 residents. The median monthly rent is $1,323, and the combined cost of nonhousing necessities is $17,555.16 per year. Norwalk Community School District also earned a praiseworthy A grade from Niche for overall quality.
Housing, groceries, healthcare and transportation are all relatively cheap in Derby compared to the rest of America. The median home list price in Wichita’s top suburb is $211,330, and the median rent is $1,222 per month. Residents can expect to spend an average of $17,564.63 per year on nonhousing necessities.
Nonhousing necessities are particularly affordable in Georgetown, costing only $16,854.86 per year. Transportation expenses fall squarely on the national average, but groceries, healthcare and utilities all come at a cheaper price. However, Shelbyville is generally safer than Georgetown, with 1.76 violent crimes and 18.71 property crimes per 1,000 residents compared to 1.9 violent crimes and 27.84 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
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Baton Rouge: Baker
New Orleans: Luling
St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling won an exemplary A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality — a drastic difference from Baker City Public Schools, which was slapped with an alarming C-minus. However, childless couples might still find Baker appealing thanks to its lower housing costs. The median home list price in Baker is $149,750, which is significantly lower than the median home list price of $232,000 in Luling.
Saco is indeed the top suburb of Portland, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stand out in any particular cost-of-living or safety category. Both local school districts in the suburb, Regional School Unit No. 23 (MSAD 23) and Saco Public Schools, also earned a B-minus or lower from Niche in terms of overall quality. As a bright spot, transportation costs in Saco are 6.6% lower compared to the national average.
Washington, D.C.: Damascus
Damascus is significantly more expensive than Aberdeen when it comes to housing costs and nonhousing necessities, but those additional expenses might be worth it for families. Washington’s top suburb offers a more highly rated school district than Baltimore’s best suburb, and it’s also safer, witnessing fewer violent and property crimes.
Reading, the top suburb of Boston, stands out in different ways. This area is especially safe, experiencing 0.31 violent crimes and 6.09 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which are low crime rates compared to the other top suburbs in the country. However, Reading is also particularly pricey in terms of housing, with a median home list price of $569,900 and an average monthly rent of $2,667.
Berkley is a good choice for families who want to live in Detroit. The Berkley School District earned an exceptional A grade from Niche for overall quality, and the suburb experiences relatively low crime rates, with 0.52 violent crimes and 6.98 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
The top suburb of Minneapolis deserves to be recognized for its safe neighborhoods: Waconia boasts the fifth-lowest violent crime rate compared to the other best suburbs in America. It witnesses 0.25 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, as well as 7.11 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Compared to the other top suburbs in the U.S., Pearl is both relatively safe and affordable in terms of housing. The median home list price in this charmingly named suburb is $155,450, and the average rent is $1,227 per month. It experiences 0.75 violent crimes and 7.88 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Kansas City: Grain Valley
St. Louis: Maryland Heights
Missouri residents concerned about neighborhood safety might prefer Grain Valley, Kansas City’s top suburb, because it’s generally safer than Maryland Heights. But budget-conscious folks would be wise to choose the top suburb of St. Louis, where costs for housing and other necessities are cheaper. Families should also keep in mind that both school districts in Maryland Heights received a superior grade of A-plus from Niche for overall quality.
Compared to the other top suburbs in the nation, Laurel offers relatively low rent costs, with a median monthly rent of $1,224. Additionally, transportation costs in this Billings suburb are 12.7% cheaper than the national average, so it’s less expensive for residents to get around town.
The three school districts in this Omaha suburb are excellent overall, but the Papillion-La Vista School District stands out for earning a distinguished A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality. Bellevue Public Schools and Omaha Public Schools aren’t too shabby either, securing A and B-plus grades, respectively.
Las Vegas: Boulder City
Despite its proximity to the debauchery happening in Sin City, Boulder City is relatively safe for residents compared to the other top suburbs across America. The best suburb in the Las Vegas area experiences 0.63 violent crimes and 9.02 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Milford is particularly safe in terms of property crime compared to the other top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, recording 6.67 property crimes per 1,000 residents, along with 0.97 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.
As a small bonus, healthcare costs are also slightly cheaper in this Manchester suburb compared to the national average.
Compared to the other top suburbs in the country, Bergenfield is remarkably safe. It boasts the second-lowest crime rates, with 0.07 violent crimes and 3.8 property crimes per 1,000 residents. Additionally, the Bergenfield Borough School District earned a standout A grade from Niche for overall quality.
Albuquerque: Rio Rancho
Witnessing 1.82 violent crimes and 21.12 property crimes per 1,000 residents, this Albuquerque suburb isn’t known for being particularly safe. However, the average rent in Rio Rancho is relatively inexpensive compared to the other top suburbs in America, coming in at $1,247 per month.
New York City: Deer Park
Despite its home in the Empire State, which is notorious for expensive housing, Lockport offers the lowest median home list price among all the top suburbs included on GOBankingRates’ list. The average home in this Buffalo suburb costs only $117,000. In comparison, the median home list price in Deer Park — New York City’s best suburb — is significantly higher, at $425,000.
Among the top suburbs in North Carolina, Clayton has the cheapest housing costs, with a median home list price of $266,660 and an average rent of $1,392 per month. However, Carrboro is home to the best school district: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools received an extraordinary A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality.
Fargo: West Fargo
Residents of West Fargo pay the lowest combined cost for groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation compared to the other top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, at $16,245.72 per year. Healthcare expenses in West Fargo are especially cheap, costing $3,781.63 annually — a whopping 23.2% below the national average.
Cleveland: Mayfield Heights
Toledo: Bowling Green
Families living in the top Ohio suburbs can save a pretty penny on groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation. Bowling Green, Mayfield Heights and Fairfield rank No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, for the cheapest nonhousing necessities among all the best suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. Residents of these three suburbs pay under $17,000 per year, on average, for those things.
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Oklahoma City: El Reno
At $139,380, El Reno has the third-lowest median home list price compared to all the other top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. This Oklahoma City suburb also offers the second-cheapest average rent, at $932 per month. Claremore residents don’t need to be too envious, though — Tulsa’s best suburb has the third-least expensive rent, at $973 per month.
Sherwood, the top suburb of Portland, witnesses 0.82 violent crimes and 11.71 property crimes per 1,000 residents. The median home list price in this area is $485,000, and the average monthly rent is $2,016. Residents can expect to pay $18,887.74 per year, on average, for nonhousing necessities such as groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation.
The top suburb of Pittsburgh experiences 4.55 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which is the third-lowest property crime rate among all the best suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list. Plum is also cheaper than Lansdale when it comes to cost-of-living expenses. However, the North Penn School District in Lansdale boasts a phenomenal A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality, standing head and shoulders above the B-plus grade earned by Plum Borough School District.
Providence: East Providence
While East Providence is the best suburb in the Providence area, it’s still relatively expensive overall. On top of that, the East Providence School District scrapes by with a C grade from Niche for overall quality. However, there’s one bright spot: Healthcare costs in East Providence are 17.4% cheaper than the national average.
Charleston: Mount Pleasant
Columbia’s top suburb offers much cheaper housing costs than the best suburb in the Charleston area. For example, the median home list price in Mount Pleasant is more than $250,000 higher than the average home price in Lexington. You can also rent a dwelling for over $1,100 less in Lexington. However, Mount Pleasant is decidedly safer, experiencing approximately half the number of property crimes that Lexington residents face.
Sioux Falls: Brandon
Brandon is the safest suburb out of all the places on GOBankingRates’ list. This Sioux Falls suburb witnesses a grand total of zero violent crimes as well as 2.61 property crimes per 1,000 residents — the lowest crime rates among the top suburbs in America. On top of that, the Brandon Valley School District received a spectacular A grade from Niche for overall quality.
Nashville: La Vergne
The top three suburbs in Tennessee are appealing in their own respective ways. Maryville offers the cheapest average rent and overall cost for nonhousing necessities — at $1,211 per month and $18,807.22 per year, respectively — as well as the only school district with an A grade for overall quality. Germantown is the safest, experiencing 0.79 violent crimes and 12.57 property crimes per 1,000 residents. La Vergne has the lowest median home list price, at $204,900.
El Paso: Socorro
San Antonio: New Braunfels
Compared to the other top suburbs in America, Socorro is extraordinarily inexpensive when it comes to housing costs, providing the cheapest average rent at $917 per month, as well as fourth-lowest median home list price at $140,950. Hutto also isn’t a bad choice for Texas residents: this top Austin suburb experiences the fourth-lowest property crime rate compared to the other places on GOBankingRates’ list, with 5.44 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Salt Lake City: Magna
Magna witnesses some of the highest crime rates among the top suburbs in America, with 3.16 violent crimes and 40.43 property crimes per 1,000 residents. Though groceries and utilities are slightly cheaper compared to the national average, this area isn’t particularly cheap when it comes to cost-of-living expenses. Still, Magna stands as the top suburb in the Salt Lake City area.
Burlington: South Burlington
Luckily for South Burlington residents, transportation costs are 15.1% cheaper than the national average, coming in at $4,097.27 per year. That means parents in this Burlington suburb can save money when they’re shuttling their children to the South Burlington School District, which earned an exceptional A-plus grade from Niche for overall quality.
Virginia Beach: Poquoson
Hanover County Public Schools in Mechanicsville and Poquoson City Public Schools in Poquoson both earned an outstanding A grade from Niche for overall quality, so parents can rest easy when it comes to their children’s education. However, to cut costs, they should head to Richmond: Mechanicsville is safer and cheaper in terms of overall living expenses.
Seattle: Lake Stevens
Spokane: Spokane Valley
Out of all the top suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, Spokane Valley charges the third-cheapest overall cost for nonhousing necessities such as groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation. However, Washington residents should keep in mind that Lake Stevens — the top suburb in the Seattle area — is much safer than Spokane Valley, which experiences over three times as many property crimes.
The average rent in Hurricane is relatively inexpensive compared to the other top suburbs in the U.S., coming in at $1,151 per month. This Huntington suburb also offers utility costs that are 13% cheaper than the national average, as well as more affordable grocery and healthcare costs.
Compared to Waunakee, Hartford offers cheaper housing costs, with a median list price of $237,400 and an average monthly rent of $1,156. In Madison’s top suburb, the average home costs $449,950, and residents typically pay $1,786 per month in rent. However, with its stellar A-plus grade for overall quality, the Waunakee Community School District is superior to the Hartford Joint 1 School District, which received a fair but lesser B grade.
Rock Springs: Green River
As the best suburb in Wyoming, the Green River community has transportation costs that are 10.7% cheaper than the national average, as well as utilities that are slightly less expensive. The median home list price in this Rock Springs suburb is a flat $200,000, and the average rent is $1,404 per month.
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Methodology: After locating the largest metropolitan statistical areas in each state, GOBankingRates evaluated cities with populations fewer than 100,000 residents (“suburbs”) along the following criteria: (1) violent crime rate per 1,000 residents and (2) property crime rate per 1,000 residents, both sourced from Neighborhood Scout; (3) median home list price, sourced from Zillow’s May 2019 index; (4) median monthly rent, sourced from Zillow’s May 2019 index; (5) annual cost-of-living expenditures, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017-18 Consumer Expenditure Survey, with local cost-of-living indices sourced from Sperling’s Best Places; (6) and school district score, based on Niche’s Best School Districts index. Each school district had an alphabetical grade, ranging from A-plus through F, that was converted to a numerical value in order to score. All these factors were scored, summed up and then ranked from best to worst for each metropolitan statistical area in all 50 states. The list of cities comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. All suburbs are within 45 miles of the principal city in terms of driving distance, per Google Maps.
Data is accurate as of Aug. 7, 2019, and is subject to change.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Best Suburbs for Your Wallet — and Peace of Mind