Austin, TX skyline during the day

9 Best Downtown Areas for Raising a Family

While the suburbs are often the perfect place for people to settle down and raise a family, there are plenty of families that prefer to raise their kids at the heart of the city. If you’re one of those families, no doubt you’ll want a city with an affordable cost of living, low crime rates, good schools, and close proximity to family-friendly attractions. And we’ve compiled a list with exactly that! Check out the nine best downtown areas for raising a family in the U.S below!

Austin, TX

  • Population: 947,890
  • Median Home Price: $286,100
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 10% of the cities in the U.S.

You might think Austin is just a hotbed for young professionals, but it’s also a great place for families! With affordable homes and top-rated schools within the Austin Independent School District, Downtown Austin is one of the best places to raise a family!

Looking for things to do with kids in Austin? Spend Saturdays in the fall watching Texas Longhorns games at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. Cool off on hot summer days at Barton Springs Pool. Get your German on at one of the many family-friendly Oktoberfest events. Head out to Austin Kiddie Limits (a festival within the Austin City Limits Music Festival) for great music, games, activities, and more! Or visit Museum of the Weird, where you can see all kinds of oddities from wax figures and shrunken heads to the Texas Bigfoot!

Boise, ID

  • Population: 223,154
  • Median Home Price: $213,700
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 38% of the cities in the U.S.

When thinking about moving to the Pacific Northwest, the word “expensive” probably comes to mind. Fortunately, Boise is one of the more affordable places to live, and you’ll still be close to the mountains! It’s easy to find spacious homes around Downtown Boise, and kids will have access to great schools within the Boise School District.

Looking for things to do with kids in Boise? Visit Zoo Boise to see snow leopards, llamas, komodo dragons, and other exotic animal species. Head over to Boise State University on Saturdays in the fall to tailgate before watching a Broncos game on the famous blue turf field. Learn more about science at the interactive Discovery Center of Idaho. Or enjoy a night out at the annual Alive After Five Summer Concert Series.

Des Moines, IA

  • Population: 215,472
  • Median Home Price: $180,700
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 10% of the cities in the U.S.

Since 2016, Des Moines has been named both the most affordable place to live in the U.S. and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country, making it an excellent place to raise a family. The steady rise in population isn’t an anomaly either. Families are relocating to Iowa’s state capital for jobs with major companies like Wells Fargo, Principal, and Kum & Go.

Looking for things to do with kids in Des Moines? Catch a baseball game at Principal Park, where the Iowa Cubs (the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate) play. Spend some time among the flowers at Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Find fresh produce and handcrafted goods at the Downtown Farmers’ Market, which was ranked as one of the best farmers’ markets in the country! Or learn more about Iowa’s historical contributions to agriculture and the arts at the State Historical Museum of Iowa.

Greenville, SC

  • Population: 67,453
  • Median Home Price: $161,500
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 13% of the cities in the U.S.

What makes Greenville such a great place to raise a family isn’t just the affordable home prices, the safe environment, or the small-town sensibilities. It’s also the continued growth of job opportunities with large companies like GE and Michelin that brings families to this South Carolina city. And with good schools in the nearby Greenville County Schools, Downtown Greenville is a great place for families to settle down.

Looking for things to do with kids in Greenville? Spend a day among the animals at Greenville Zoo. Get creative with interactive exhibits at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Enjoy a night out at NOMA Square with free, family-friendly events like Piedmont Natural Gas Downtown Alive or Greenville Heritage Main Street Fridays. Or catch a performance by your favorite country musician at Peace Center.

Knoxville, TN

  • Population: 186,239
  • Median Home Price: $154,100
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 4% of the cities in the U.S.

Knoxville is quickly making its way up the list of best cities for families with kids. Right along the Tennessee River, Downtown Knoxville offers affordable homes and plenty of activities for families. And with close proximity to University of Tennessee, it’s a good spot to settle down if you plan to attend college or graduate school while raising a family.

Looking for things to do with kids in Knoxville? Catch a basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena, home to the eight-time National Champion Lady Vols! Explore local art galleries during the monthly First Friday ArtWalk. Get some fresh air at the Market Square Farmers’ Market. Head to historic Gay Street and see a touring Broadway musical at the Tennessee Theatre. Or get a view of the whole city from the Observation Deck at the Sunsphere.

Louisville, KY

  • Population: 616,261
  • Median Home Price: $152,300
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 10% of the cities in the U.S.

A growing city with an affordable cost of living, Louisville should be at the top of your list of family-friendly downtowns with great education opportunities. In the heart of Downtown Louisville, there are excellent magnet schools like duPont Manual High SchoolLincoln Elementary Performing Arts School, and J. Graham Brown School. And if you have a kid heading off to college soon, University of Louisville is practically next door!

Looking for things to do with kids in Louisville? Get a baseball history lesson at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Take a walk down the seven-block 4th Street district to grab a bite, shop, and catch live music. Enjoy a day down at Louisville Waterfront Park, where you can find all kinds of festivals and events. Or experience some cool science at the Kentucky Science Center.

Milwaukee, WI

  • Population: 595,047
  • Median Home Price: $226,200
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of the cities in the U.S.

Downtown Milwaukee families get an experience that most Midwesterners can only dream of—living near the water! With beautiful views of Lake Michigan, affordable living, and schools in the highly rated Milwaukee Public School District, it’s no wonder why so many families move to Milwaukee!

Looking for things to do with kids in Milwaukee? Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum to see how the modern motorcycle came to be. View contemporary art at Milwaukee Art Museum. Attend one of the many family days hosted by the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Or spend the summer walking along the Milwaukee RiverWalk, where you can stop to shop, grab lunch or dinner, and even bike around town.

Minneapolis, MN

  • Population: 413,651
  • Median Home Price: $264,200
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of the cities in the U.S.

Minneapolis consistently makes the list of best cities to raise a family! Not only does living here mean employment opportunities with companies like Target, Valspar, and PepsiAmericas, but you’ll also find affordable homes, safe streets, and great schools like DeLaSalle High School and The Blake School.

Looking for things to do with kids in Minneapolis? Explore the Minneapolis Riverwalk with a walking tour and restaurant stops. Wake up early and try to get one of the 14 seats at Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown. Take the kids to get better acquainted with the city’s milling history at Mill City Museum. Or catch the light rail to take in a Minnesota Twins game or a Minnesota Vikings game.

Omaha, NE

  • Population: 446,970
  • Median Home Price: $165,400
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 16% of the cities in the U.S.

If you’re searching for a safe, affordable downtown area with good schools and fun events for the whole family, you’ll find it in Omaha! The city continues to grow thanks to job opportunities with Fortune 500 companies like Mutual of Omaha, Union Pacific Railroad, Kiewit, TD Ameritrade, and Berkshire Hathaway, and it’s one of the few U.S. cities considered to be “recession-proof.”

Looking for things to do with kids in Omaha? Check out the local arts scene at the annual Summer Arts Festival. See ballets, operas, musicals, and more at the Orpheum Theater. Take a stroll through the Old Market to find great shopping and dining. Kick off the summer at TD Ameritrade Park, home to the NCAA Men’s College World Series. Or attend the annual Taste of Omaha at the riverfront, where you can try food from restaurants throughout the city.

Not sure whether living downtown is right for your family? Check out our pros and cons guide to raising a family in the city vs. the suburbs!

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Thinking about moving to one of these family-friendly downtown areas? Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage locations across the U.S., so we can help with your transition! Find a storage near you!

Home price values from Zillow Research. Crime rates from AreaVibes.com. Population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Best Downtown Areas for Raising a Family