Families in Louisiana enjoy the state’s diversity, from its Creole dishes to Cajun music. More than its rich culture and food, adults in Louisiana seek opportunities for themselves and their kids, too. With that in mind, we asked the following as we analyzed cities and towns across the state to identify the best for young families:
- Does the town have good public schools? We measured schools’ academic performance with ratings from GreatSchools. This non-profit compares a given school’s standardized test scores to the state average to obtain a rating on a 1 to 10 scale (10 representing the highest score). Higher ratings led to a higher overall score.
- Can you afford to live there? We looked at both median home values in each town and ongoing monthly home costs, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuel and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher overall score.
- Is the town growing and prospering? We assessed a town’s economy by looking at median household income and income growth over the last decade. Higher income and greater growth led to a higher overall score.
The Best Towns for Young Families
Leesville is the seat of Vernon Parish, just eight miles up the road from Fort Polk South. It is home to the largest military base in the state, Fort Polk, where 24,000 military personnel and their families reside. Amenities include several nearby lakes – just an hour’s drive away is the Toledo Bend Reservoir, known for its bass fishing – a museum and a historic main street.
Walker is in the Baton Rouge metro area, and it is one of the fastest growing cities in the state. The community’s business parks have helped pave the way for further development. The schools, too, have done well: earlier this year, three of Livingston Parish’s high schools were recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the best in the nation.
3. Belle Chasse
Belle Chasse is part of the greater New Orleans metro area, and it is home to great schools. In 2011, Plaquemines Parish Schools was ranked fifth in the state on overall performance. The parish is also known as a “sportsman’s paradise” because of its excellent fishing spots.
4. West Monroe
West Monroe sits on the Ouachita River, across from its twin city, Monroe. Its parish is home to one of the largest companies headquartered in Louisiana – CenturyLink, a telecommunications company – as well as the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The university serves more than its full-time students; it also gives support to aspiring entrepreneurs and small-business owners with its Small Business Development Center.
Zachary is in the Baton Rouge metro area, and it supports an extremely strong school system. For eight consecutive years, the Zachary Community School District has been the top-performing district in Louisiana according to the state department of education.
Galliano is on the Bayou Lafourche in southeastern Louisiana. The larger area is known as Cajun Country because of its blend of French, Spanish, English and German heritage. With the Gulf of Mexico and its long, warm summers, Galliano residents have the opportunity to fish and boat for several months every year.
Eunice is a prairie village in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. The community has a strong tradition of Cajun and Creole culture. The Liberty Theater – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – is known for its performances of Cajun and Zydeco music and humor.
Patterson is in St. Mary Parish, near Morgan City. A port is on either end of the parish, making it a hub for business, industry and trade. Indeed, in 2010, Patterson was recognized by the state government for its commitment to economic development.
9. St. Rose
St. Rose lies on the East Bank of the Mississippi River, in St. Charles Parish. The area’s biggest industries are energy and petrochemical. The latter, especially, has seen a great deal of development. Last year, an LSU professor projected that the energy industry would add 9,000 jobs to the Baton Rouge economy by 2015, thanks in part to the expansion of a plant in St. Charles Parish.
The city of Sulphur belongs to Calcasieu Parish, in southwestern Louisiana. Like St. Rose, its economy has boomed with the petrochemical industry. The schools here are strong, too. Frasch Elementary earned an “A” rating from the state Department of Education.
|Rank||City||Nearest big city||GreatSchools rating||Median home value||Monthly owner costs||Median household income||Growth,’99-’11||Overall score for young families|
|3||Belle Chasse||New Orleans||9||$239,200||$1,863||$69,353||46.7%||64.8|
|9||St. Rose||New Orleans||8||$150,900||$1,233||$48,217||38.9%||63.4|
The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:
- GreatSchools city rating. GreatSchools city ratings are calculated by averaging the weighted overall rating for each school in the city (weighted by the number of students enrolled at the school)
- Median home value from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
- Monthly homeowner costs from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
- Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP03, half-weighted)
- Income change between 1999 and 2011 from the U.S. Census (data sets P053 and DP03, half-weighted)
108 Louisiana cities and areas designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a population greater than 5,000 were considered.