How We Chose Our Cities
We conducted a nationwide survey of women from Parenting's MomConnection research panel to pinpoint their top criteria in choosing a place to raise their families. Their choices were (in order of priority): quality of schools; affordability and availability of quality housing; low crime rates; job availability and growth; number of registered sex offenders; recreational opportunities; quality/quantity of pediatricians/family physicians; commute time and distance; proximity to a good children's hospital; quality/quantity of childcare facilities and preschools; and air quality.
Next, we compiled a list of the top 100 cities by population, according to the U.S. Census. We removed towns that were so close to other large cities that they would have similar data. We also added in smaller cities that are widely known. Then we crunched more than 5,000 bits of info in 52 categories to devise rankings for Economy, Safety, Health, Education, and Recreation. Finally, we averaged those findings, giving the most weight to Education, Economy, and Safety, to determine the "Overall Score."