Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Did Your City Make OC's Family Friendly List?

Parenting OC recently published a survey of the most family-friendly cities in Orange County based on hard data and “a few subjective ideas” to decide which are the best cities to raise kids in Orange County. Broken down by city population, here’s a summary of the results – you can read more details about the cities at parentingOC.com:

Big Cities (Populations over 100,000)
Irvine, the "golden child" of Orange County cities, rates high as
 family friendly (image via PictureNinja)
1. Irvine
Irvine always seems to be the golden child of the OC family – it’s also been named as the fifth best city in the US by Newsweek and the fourth best place to live in the US by CNNMoney.com.

2. Fullerton
Fullerton is very affordable when it comes to housing but is a little high on the crime rate. Still, the schools rate above the national average in terms of performance, so if education is important to you that’s something to consider.

3. Orange
Orange has actually made the list of Tree City USA due to its extensive parks, lakes, zoo and wildlife sanctuary. Plus, over 91 percent of its residents live in married households. I didn’t think that was possible anywhere!

4. Huntington Beach
HB is a community of young families; a third of all households have kids under 18. With the surf culture and ocean so close, it’s a picturesque if pricey place to live. That view ain’t free!

5. Costa Mesa
Like most cities in Orange County, Costa Mesa has a bit of a personality disorder – there’s a good side (theaters and shopping), and a bad side (Parenting OC said it has some “sketchy” neighborhoods). There are also lots of parks and businesses.

Mid-Size Cities (Populations over 50,000)
The view from one of Lake Forest's two lakes helps make it
family friendly (image via OCBook.com)
1. Lake Forest 
If Irvine is the golden child of OC, then Lake Forest is the red headed step-child of south Orange County. While it does have a higher crime rate than the other cities, it also has two lakes, two county parks, a skate park (the largest in CA) and a view of the Saddleback mountains wherever you go.

2. Laguna Niguel
With the lowest crime rate of any mid-size city (and the 2nd lowest overall), Laguna Niguel also boasts exceptional schools, beautiful scenery and pricey housing.

 3. Mission Viejo
With national recognition for its low crime rate, Mission Viejo also boasts having two parks per square mile, three golf courses and an athletic park that contains eight baseball fields and five soccer fields.

4. Yorba Linda
According to the 2010 US Census, Yorba Linda is considered to the wealthiest city in Orange County. As reported in Parenting OC, 40 percent of its residents reported having children under the age of 18 and 70 percent of households were reported as opposite-sex married couples living together. With the majority (a whopping 85 percent) living in owner-occupied housing, people who live in Yorba Linda are there for the long haul.

5. Placentia
Known mainly as a commuter town, the city also is also recognized by Parenting OC as “one of the most ethnically diverse.” It’s also the home of Knott’s Berry farm! What kid wouldn’t want to grow near there?

Small Cities (Population up to 50,000)

RSM boasts the lowest crime rate in the county
(Image via city-data.com)
1. Rancho Santa Margarita
The little city that could, RSM is surrounded by wildlife (Cleveland National Forest and Trabuco Canyon), has recreation spots like parks, pools, a lake and a lagoon, and has an excellent school system. Not to mention it has the lowest crime rate in the county.

2. Aliso Viejo
Like RSM, Aliso Viejo is an urban/forest that’s surrounded by a regional park and the Aliso Creek and Wood Canyon Creek, with a very low crime rate and great schools. Maybe next year there will be a new number one…

3. San Juan Capistrano
Who knew SJC was considered a little city? Maybe I’m confusing “small” for “young”, San Juan Capistrano has one of the state’s oldest residential neighborhood, Los Rios. Lots of arts, history, and open space make this city appealing to families.

4. La Palma
Tiny (population 15,733) but mighty (the only OC city that made Money Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Live), La Palma is considered “a safe community, with excellent schools, quality housing, a vibrant and diverse population, and a fiscally sound city.”

5. Villa Park
Even though it has no public parks and is an expensive place to live, Villa Park it has very low crime and what is described by Parenting OC as a “rural feel” which “make(s) for a feeling of suburban isolation amidst the bustle of a major metropolis.”

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