Communities in the Sacramento area account for 5 of the top 10 best cities for families in Northern California according to a study by NerdWallet. Folsom (#2), Rocklin (#5), El Dorado Hills (#7), Roseville (#8) and Granite Bay (#9) all made the top 10 from Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties thanks to their proximity to the American and Sacramento rivers.
NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best place in Northern California for your family when you make one of the biggest decisions of your life — where to raise your kids.
Of the top 20 cities we’ve found for young families in Northern California, nearly half are east of San Francisco, in the East Bay, which is known for sun, schools and access to San Francisco culture and jobs and also to Silicon Valley tech companies.
We isolated three factors that matter most to families no matter where they decide to live:
1. Public school excellence. For school quality, we gathered GreatSchools data, which compares students’ test scores and other statewide data and ranks schools on a 1-10 scale, with 10 as the highest rating.
2. Home affordability. Using U.S. Census Bureau data, we weighed median home values and monthly homeownership costs, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuel and other bills. Places with more affordable homes had higher scores.
3. Growth and prosperity. We assessed a place’s economy using census figures that detailed median household incomes from 2012, and long-term income growth since 1999.
Here are the entries from the Best Cities for Families in Northern California:
With places to play at Folsom Lake and the American River, Folsom boasts a great Sacramento County location with excellent public schools, many with high scores on the state’s most recent Academic Performance Index report. Housing is relatively affordable for middle- to upper middle-class families, with the 2012 median home value at $398,200. The annual American River Salmon Festival and Folsom’s trails around the lake help connect the suburban community to nature.
This quiet middle- to upper-middle-class suburb sits in rolling hills close to Folsom Lake and within an hour’s drive to downtown Sacramento. The community’s schools, in the Rocklin Unified School District, include several California Distinguished Schools — Breen Elementary, Valley View Elementary and more. Affordable housing also makes this area attractive for families, with the median home values in 2012 at $333,200, and residents have seen long-term stability in income growth, too.
7. El Dorado Hills
Nestled in the foothills northeast of Sacramento, El Dorado Hills focuses on serving families and providing a good education for students. The El Dorado Community Services District organizes holiday events throughout the year for kids, and manages the “hills” of the community, which includes over 100 acres of parks. This quiet bedroom community offers a respite from the metropolitan hustle in a place where families can relax with recreational activities from golfing to sailing on nearby Folsom Lake.
Known for its shopping malls in the Sacramento area, Roseville sports a lively downtown. In May, June and July, families have the chance to see live bands and visit farmers markets in one place at Downtown Tuesday Nights. Roads, sidewalks and parking lots in Roseville accommodate traffic and also offer plenty of parking, and the city continues to improve its streets with new sidewalks that reflect the growth in the region. In education, several high schools in Roseville’s school district have increased the number of students in AP courses in recent years.
9. Granite Bay
At once rural and upscale, this quiet residential city is close to Folsom Lake and Roseville’s Westfield mall. With the highest 2012 median household income from our list, Granite Bay is a stable community with strong schools. Within the local school district, several teachers have been honored for making a difference and the district also received recognition for having a high 2013 API score. The Granite Bay Community Association provides a range of activities for residents with events and activities ranging from farmers markets to gardening club meetings.
read the entire article and see the entire list of 138 best cities for families in Northern California here: