Best Cities for Families Report: DC doesn't fare well

Apartment List ranks the nation's best cities for families based on four factors


At Apartment List, we know that people care about a lot of factors when they’re searching for a home. Everyone wants a great apartment at a great price, but families look for different things in a city than young singles.

Last year, we released our list of the best cities for young families; this year, we refreshed our analysis with the latest and greatest data to help your homebuyers make the best decision. This report is specifically tailored for Washington, D.C.

The Apartment List methodology

Our analysis centered around the four factors that we identified as being important to families:

  • Safety (35 percent): We used FBI data to rank cities by the number of violent crimes and property crimes per 100,000 residents.
  • Housing cost (30 percent): We used census data to calculate the percentage of the median renter income required to rent a 2-bedroom apartment.
  • School quality (25 percent): Cities were ranked on high school graduation rate for public school districts based in that city. Comparing schools across different states can be challenging, but using high school graduation rate data from the Department of Education gives us a good estimate of overall school quality.
  • Child friendliness (10 percent): Communities with a greater percentage of children tend to be more child friendly, so we used census data to score cities based on the percentage of the population that’s under 18.

We weighted these factors using the percentages listed above, and used this index to assign grades and rankings to the nearly 500 cities in our study.

DC family-friendly factor

DC did not make the top 10 best cities for families in the United States, by quite a ways. However, on the bright side, it didn’t make the list of the 10 worst cities, either. DC received the following scores:

  • Crime score: 7.8
  • Child score: 4.7
  • Education score: 4.9
  • Housing score: 40.1
  • Total score: 16.5

Washington, D.C.’s lowest scores were in the children and education categories, with a graduation rate of 62 percent and only 17 percent of its population being under the age of 18.

It also received a poor score for safety, with over 6,000 crimes being committed per 100,000 people. Renting a two-bedroom apartment in Washington, D.C. requires 35 percent of the median renter income in the area, placing the average DC renter in the “moderately cost-burdened” category (spending 30-50 percent of income on rent).

Overall, Washington, D.C. is not the most ideal city for a family.

Yuki Graviet Knapp is a Content Marketing Associate with the Growth Team at Apartment List and is a resident of the Bay Area.