Snacks, Gas, and Insurance: Where are the Best Cities for Soccer Moms?
Think of soccer moms (or soccer dads), and what images come to mind?
Minivans? Questionable sideline manners? How about wads of cash?
Soccer is among the most ubiquitous youth sports—ESPN estimates 17% of girls and 20% of boys play the sport—and is surprisingly expensive, considering it doesn’t involve buying a pony or fronting for hours of ice time.
One writer even went so far as to calculate the true cost of being a soccer parent to be $52,064.
However, not all cities are on a level playing field for youth soccer players and their families. If your city made our top 10, there will be ample competition for your young soccer stars, but it will also be affordable. To find the best cities for soccer moms and dads, we considered two factors:
- Do kids play soccer? (30%): We found the number of youth soccer clubs within 75 miles of the 150 largest cities in the United States. We then divided it by the city’s population to find the number of soccer clubs per capita.
- Is it affordable? (70%): Soccer moms and dads spend much of their time feeding and transporting their athletes, so we compared food and car-related costs in our study. When considering food, we compared the prices of two popular soccer snacks: banana and orange juice. For transportation costs, we compared gas prices and the cost to insure a 2012 Ford Escape. To accurately compare costs across cities, we calculated each city’s weekly food and transportation costs as a percentage of a city’s median weekly income.
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10 Best Cities for Soccer Moms and Dads:
1. Tacoma, Washington
Tacoma tops our list of the best cities for soccer moms and dads. The city is a hotbed for soccer clubs. Within 75 miles of the city, there are 124 registered soccer clubs. That’s more than three times the number of soccer clubs accessible to most city residents; the national average is 40.
The city also boasts lower weekly costs for soccer-related expenses. Tacoma soccer moms and dads pay less for car insurance and gas when compared to the national average. On average, soccer moms and dads can expect to pay $1,063.72 per year to insure a Ford Escape, which is about $200 less than the national average.
2. Jersey City, New Jersey
Coming in as the second most affordable city for soccer moms and dads, Jersey City boasts access to the New York metropolitan area’s soccer clubs. There are 166 clubs within 75 miles of Jersey City.
Jersey City’s robust youth soccer environment is the main reason it ranks second on our list. The city has more soccer clubs per capita than any cities that we surveyed. It is significantly more expensive to be a soccer parent in Jersey City than in other parts of the country. Weekly gas, insurance and snacks will cost the average Jersey City soccer parent about $40.15, which is much more than the national average of $31.53.
3. Arlington, Virginia
Arlington youth soccer players have access to more than 90 soccer clubs. More than 7,000 children participate in the Arlington Soccer Association’s programs every year.
Transportation and food costs in Arlington are similar to those in Tacoma. And because Arlington has a higher median income than Tacoma, these costs represent about half as much of a family’s overall budget.
4. Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester has a robust soccer landscape; there are more than 100 clubs in the area. Futbol Club United of Massachusetts, one of the many clubs that serves Worcester, is where Diego Fagundez, a New England Revolution player, played as a youth.
The city’s food and transportation costs are comparable to the rest of the cities surveyed. Although Worcester’s gas prices are about 20 cents more per gallon than the national average, Worcester soccer parents pay less for their annual car insurance premium.
5. Irvine, California
Irvine soccer parents enjoy cheaper car insurance costs than those in the other cities on the list. The city also has one of the highest median incomes in the country, $96,278. The average weekly costs of transporting and feeding a young soccer player represent the lowest percentage of a family’s budget.
The city’s soccer families have access to more than 70 clubs. One of the most prominent clubs in Irvine is Strikers FC. It boasts many professional players as alumni such as Jonathan Bornstein and Benny Feilhaber. Other prominent clubs include the So Cal Blues, Slammers FC and Pateadores.
6. Ontario, California
Located about 40 miles north of Irvine, Ontario soccer parents also enjoy a wide variety of clubs for their children. Ontario soccer families have access to more than 60 clubs, one of which is Legends FC, a soccer club that often produces Division I soccer players. Ontario also is home to a professional team, the Ontario Fury, an indoor team.
On average Ontario soccer parents pay almost $350 less than other drivers across the United States for insurance. This helps bring the costs for being a soccer parent in Ontario about $7 below the weekly average, although gas and snacks cost more than in some other top 10 cities.
7. Aurora, Illinois
About 45 miles from Chicago, Aurora is the only Midwestern city to make the top 10. The Chicago area is home to some of the nation’s top soccer clubs; youth soccer players have access to more than 70 clubs. For boys, the Chicago Magic and Chicago Soccers routinely produce top Division I and professional soccer players. For girls, the Eclipse Select team in nearby Oak Brook is a national powerhouse.
In terms of weekly food and transportation costs, Aurora is on par with the national average. Bananas, gas and car insurance are cheaper than the national average. Orange juice, however, is more expensive.
8. Plano, Texas
Plano is one of the wealthier cities to make the list, with a household median income of $81,475. The city’s food and car-related costs are also a bit lower than the national average, and thus the bite a soccer player will take out of a Plano family’s budget is relatively low. The $29.07 a week a Plano family will spend on soccer costs make up about 1.85% of their weekly budget, similar to families in Arlington and Irvine.
9. Irving, Texas
Just a 30-minute drive from Plano, Irving’s soccer players share many of the same soccer clubs. They have relatively easy access to 71 clubs in all. Soccer parents in Irving pay slightly less for gas. On average a gallon of gas in Irving is $3.34, which is 10 cents cheaper than the national average. Because Irving’s median household income is about $30,000 less than Plano’s, below-average costs still make up a greater percentage of families’ budgets. Irving families will pay about $30.50, or about 3.1% of their income, each week if a child is in soccer.
10. Salt Lake City, Utah
Youth players in Salt Lake City have access to more than 60 soccer clubs. Besides being home to a vibrant youth soccer scene, Salt Lake City is also home to Real Salt Lake, a successful Major League Soccer team. The city’s soccer moms and dads also pay much less for food and transportation compared to the rest of the country, with a total about $5 below the average. At about $250 below average, annual car insurance costs are especially low.
The Best Cities for Soccer Moms and Dads
|Rank||City||State||Total population 2012||Median income||Number of nearby soccer clubs||Annual car insurance premium||Orange juice||Gasoline||Bananas||Composite score|
|2||Jersey City||New Jersey||248,435||$56,794||166||$1,690.00||$3.39||$3.59||$0.68||92.79|
|10||Salt Lake City||Utah||186,740||$42,827||62||$993.63||$3.49||$3.21||$0.56||79.07|
In this study, we analyzed 117 of the largest communities in the United States. To compare food and transportation costs across cities, we calculated weekly food and transportation costs as a percentage of each city’s median income. Our data comes from the following sources:
- U.S. Youth Soccer Foundation: Clubs within 75 miles of each city
- ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Prices for orange juice, bananas and gas
- NerdWallet Car Insurance Comparison tool: Average car insurance costs for 40-year-old married males and females driving a 2012 Ford Escape
- U.S. Census: Population and median income
Soccer image via Shutterstock