Best Cities for Young Families in Georgia

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Best Cities for Young Families in Georgia 2015

Young families seeking Southern charm, excellent schools and plenty of outdoor recreation can find it all in Georgia.

Peach State residents enjoy mild winters and hot, humid summers that are perfect for laid-back families. From small country towns to quaint coastal areas and bustling historic cities, Georgia has something for everyone. But one of the biggest attractions is the lower cost of living: the median home price in Georgia is just $128,100.

Key takeaways

NerdWallet’s second analysis of the best places for young families revealed some trends:

Small towns are big. The average population of the top cities is just over 14,100 people, and half of the places have less than 10,000 people. The top 10 on our list range from the small town of Flowery Branch with 5,800 people to the small city of Evans, home to 31,739.

Incomes are higher. Family income is higher for all of the places on our list with an average of $70,000 — well above the state average of $53,029. The highest average family income is nearly $97,500 in Evans, while the lowest is just shy of $50,000 in Cusseta.

Lots of families live here. The cities on our list have a high number of family households — married couples with children under age 18. On average, each town’s population is about 34% families, which is almost double the statewide average.

NerdWallet’s analysis

Home affordability. We looked at median home value and selected monthly homeowner costs to prioritize affordable communities.
Prosperity and growth. Looking at current and past family incomes, we calculated the income of residents, as well as the projected long-term growth of each city.
Quality of education. We looked at ratings at GreatSchools.org to find the best schools.
Family friendliness. This year, we added a new component to our methodology — the percentage of families with school-age children and the poverty rate for young children. This measure helps determine if an area is not only affordable for families, but if it is also a healthy one for children.

NerdWallet crunched the data for 156 places in Georgia— cities, towns and census-designated places. Only places with over 5,000 residents were analyzed. To see the full data set, click here.

Best places for young families in Georgia

1. Rincon

At the top of our list is Rincon, which was once a late-19th-century railroad town in the suburbs of Savannah. It’s now the biggest city in Effingham County, with a population of 9,074 — and 38% of those residents belong to a family household. Median home values are a bit pricier than the state median, but incomes are higher, too, about $71,000 for a median family. The public schools boast an overall GreatSchools score of 9 out of 10. The city caters to active families and its recreation department is planning a new gym and community center.

2. Cusseta

Cusseta, in Chattahoochee County, has the lowest median home values on our list, making it an excellent town for thrifty families. The city boasts several programs geared toward families, especially options focused on educational readiness and success with services such as child care that offer free meals and tuition grants based on need.

3. Evans

Evans, a suburb of Augusta, is the largest city on our list with a population of 31,739. Housing prices are the highest on our list by a long shot, but family incomes are also high, with a median of over $97,000. Students attend the Columbia County Public School System, which received a GreatSchools score of 9. Year-round events at Evans Town Center Park feature music and festivals in a setting that includes a playground, fountain, splash pad, picnic tables and bicycles available to rent.

4. Holly Springs

Holly Springs, originally a farming and railroad town, is about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Young families will find lots of company: nearly 40% of the 9,411 residents are part of a family. Holly Springs is in the Cherokee County School District, which has a strong GreatSchools score of 8. The city holds events throughout the year, including an annual Easter Egg Hunt, a Great American Cleanup, the Memorial Day 5K and Fun Run, Autumn Festival and a Christmas tree lighting and parade. The city is set to open its third park this summer.

5. Richmond Hill

Richmond Hill is a small coastal city south of Savannah with a population of 9,944. The median home value is high — about $172,800 — but family incomes are bigger as well. Students attend the Bryan County School District, which earned a GreatSchools rating of 9. The city hosts the annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival and other events throughout the year. Families can take a drive on the Coastal Bryan Heritage Trail or enjoy outdoor recreation at several parks and the Fort McAllister State Park, which features a Civil War fort and museum.

6. Jefferson

Jefferson, a city named for Thomas Jefferson, is about an hour outside Atlanta, in Jackson County. The population is 9,503, and about 30% of residents live in a family household. Students go to the Jefferson City School District, which has a GreatSchools score of 9 out of 10. The city is home to an outdoor agricultural museum, a community theater and several parks. The city hosts events throughout the year from the annual Freedom Festival to live music in the downtown square and the holiday market.

7. Buford

Buford is a small city that straddles Gwinnett and Hall counties. Here home values are higher than the state median, and the schools also have higher numbers with a GreatSchools score of 9 out of 10. The town hosts outdoor movies and concerts at the Main Street Park and Amphitheater. For sports and other activities, families head to the Buford Youth Sports Complex.

8. Kingsland

Kingsland, located in Camden County, is a small city with a population of about 16,000. Kingsland was featured by Oprah in “Lovetown, USA” a reality documentary on OWN that challenged a community to become more loving in a month. To keep up with the city’s growth, four new elementary schools and a new high school were built in a place that received an 8 at GreatSchools. There are plenty of outdoor activities — from Cumberland Island to the city’s diverse bodies of water, which include rivers, marshlands, tidal creeks and lakes.

9. Flowery Branch

Flowery Branch, nestled in the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountain in Hall County, is the smallest city on our list with 5,829 people. Residents here have seen their income grow over 120% from 1999 to 2013. The town is part the Georgia Main Street/Better Hometown Program, which helps communities revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts. New housing developments are popping up and median home values are on the higher end at $191,600. Flowery Branch has a historic main street, train depot and museum, but its main claim to fame since 2005 is the city’s role as the training site for the Atlanta Falcons.

10. Woodstock

Woodstock is one of the bigger small cities on our list with a population of 24,774. Home values here are high, about $180,000, but family income is also higher at a median of $84,246. Woodstock’s economic roots reach back to the days of railroads, gristmills, cotton and gold mining. Like students in Holly Springs, children here attend the exceptional and large Cherokee County School District. The city’s outdoor attractions include several parks, the 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona, mountain bike trails at Blankets Creek, stock-car racing and performances at the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village. The city is in the process of developing a 60-mile network of multiuse trails and green space.

On the map below, click on an icon to see more details about each place on the top 10 list.

Best cities for young families in Georgia

Rank Location GreatSchools rank Median home value 1999-2013 family income growth 2013 median family income Percent of families with at
least 1 child under 18
Young families score
1 Rincon 9 $164,400 73.62% $71,016 37.9 76.93
2 Cusseta 5 $97,100 94.37% $49,808 43.7 75.78
3 Evans 9 $229,300 73.18% $97,452 33.9 72.05
4 Holly Springs 8 $188,500 24.94% $71,239 39.3 71.07
5 Richmond Hill 9 $172,800 61.20% $75,862 28.0 70.90
6 Jefferson 9 $161,600 44.25% $59,352 30.3 69.16
7 Buford 9 $165,500 51.85% $58,816 31.9 68.18
8 Kingsland 8 $152,800 48.01% $61,133 32.2 68.07
9 Flowery Branch 6 $191,600 120.57% $78,255 31.9 68.07
10 Woodstock 8 $180,300 44.00% $84,246 28.4 68.04
11 Martinez 9 $147,500 25.57% $72,919 24.5 67.34
12 Alpharetta 9 $311,100 48.02% $105,401 36.4 67.09
13 Suwanee 9 $236,500 7.52% $90,357 33.2 66.15
14 Fairview 7 $88,600 31.69% $44,634 24.3 66.08
15 Sugar Hill 9 $169,100 17.12% $69,674 31.0 65.91
16 Kennesaw 8 $158,800 27.33% $76,911 23.7 65.16
17 Acworth 8 $158,300 14.99% $58,552 27.8 65.04
18 Loganville 8 $151,300 34.82% $64,567 23.6 64.83
19 Locust Grove 6 $101,300 44.22% $60,845 24.5 64.68
20 Peachtree City 10 $274,900 34.95% $103,177 28.3 64.31
21 Commerce 8 $108,500 22.56% $41,544 21.5 64.20
22 Pooler 6 $176,100 60.89% $75,941 27.9 64.09
23 Auburn 7 $111,400 14.01% $58,542 22.5 63.60
24 Austell 4 $105,300 61.22% $62,768 29.4 63.36
25 Fayetteville 9 $194,000 47.83% $81,613 20.9 63.26
26 Villa Rica 7 $132,200 90.36% $59,318 21.2 63.26
27 Powder Springs 7 $133,800 20.81% $68,241 26.0 63.04
28 Bremen 9 $146,600 88.32% $55,278 24.5 63.00
29 Tyrone 8 $233,500 59.14% $100,385 29.5 62.59
30 Dahlonega 8 $238,600 149.37% $71,410 18.4 62.37
31 Snellville 8 $156,100 -7.41% $62,699 24.0 61.93
32 Perry 7 $132,800 79.21% $56,305 19.7 61.89
33 Duluth 8 $175,900 9.59% $65,849 24.8 61.60
34 Dallas 7 $112,300 44.30% $48,700 25.0 61.58
35 St. Marys 7 $167,400 48.86% $62,649 24.1 61.32
36 Winder 6 $127,700 38.77% $49,853 27.4 61.08
37 Centerville 7 $137,100 40.29% $65,653 20.7 61.03
38 Cumming 9 $177,300 53.76% $58,795 12.4 60.81
39 Grovetown 7 $151,700 52.57% $50,930 24.8 60.73
40 Canton 8 $171,400 31.12% $52,923 22.4 60.68
41 Hinesville 6 $125,800 47.72% $51,720 23.6 60.52
42 Lakeview 6 $84,400 9.23% $38,030 18.1 60.19
43 Toccoa 8 $95,900 63.53% $41,447 13.6 59.29
44 Warner Robins 6 $111,300 42.21% $54,610 19.6 59.16
45 McDonough 7 $134,700 25.77% $52,173 21.0 58.95
46 LaFayette 6 $84,200 83.24% $42,316 14.5 58.33
47 Hampton 5 $114,900 3.16% $47,549 37.6 58.17
48 Port Wentworth 3 $152,900 55.36% $65,625 28.2 58.13
49 Mountain Park 8 $172,900 24.50% $78,299 20.9 58.08
50 Roswell 7 $290,100 43.27% $102,759 25.5 57.87
51 Lawrenceville 7 $129,900 -7.13% $40,211 23.6 57.74
52 Waycross 7 $66,100 63.53% $38,264 13.1 56.69
53 Mableton 5 $152,700 24.19% $61,380 22.6 56.16
54 Lilburn 6 $163,100 16.93% $62,802 28.8 56.07
55 Stockbridge 6 $138,500 21.64% $58,745 18.6 56.03
56 Newnan 6 $179,300 74.42% $63,038 19.0 55.90
57 Cartersville 6 $141,600 32.58% $54,572 16.0 55.56
58 Fort Oglethorpe 6 $118,200 64.41% $52,766 13.0 55.43
59 Rome 6 $118,800 35.00% $41,754 18.9 54.76
60 Douglas 6 $87,900 37.53% $38,433 11.6 54.60
61 Adel 5 $103,900 37.38% $32,845 23.3 54.09
62 Vidalia 5 $116,200 85.19% $52,530 15.7 53.88
63 Dalton 5 $125,300 19.97% $41,163 21.7 53.77
64 Jackson 5 $111,800 40.93% $40,125 17.6 53.77
65 St. Simons 8 $346,700 60.02% $93,571 13.8 53.66
66 Norcross 5 $148,800 1.41% $45,359 30.2 53.65
67 Carrollton 6 $145,300 62.99% $44,918 15.9 53.35
68 Eastman 5 $84,000 67.90% $39,631 14.3 53.20
69 Morrow 4 $101,300 10.00% $51,227 15.5 53.10
70 Dunwoody 8 $353,900 22.71% $101,648 23.1 52.94
71 Calhoun 6 $135,500 21.42% $40,819 17.6 52.93
72 Douglasville 6 $150,800 10.99% $50,265 19.2 52.91
73 Eatonton 7 $78,800 20.29% $30,543 10.7 52.87
74 Lithia Springs 4 $102,000 18.95% $42,857 20.2 52.69
75 Waynesboro 5 $78,400 71.81% $34,957 10.6 52.50
76 Marietta 8 $208,400 21.74% $49,480 16.0 52.16
77 Sylvester 4 $90,400 67.05% $40,283 13.9 52.11
78 Scottdale 8 $161,200 -3.58% $36,379 11.9 52.02
79 Conyers 6 $113,100 23.28% $44,120 15.1 51.55
80 Smyrna 5 $206,900 53.59% $73,064 16.5 51.53
81 Fitzgerald 5 $84,900 43.92% $29,943 13.7 51.29
82 Camilla 5 $76,500 38.22% $31,078 8.7 51.11
83 Fairburn 4 $130,400 27.70% $50,672 18.6 50.88
84 Covington 6 $105,900 33.78% $42,805 12.6 50.72
85 Cordele 4 $74,900 74.20% $30,685 8.8 50.71
86 Thomaston 5 $74,900 13.83% $28,110 11.8 50.70
87 Valdosta 6 $128,100 27.12% $36,922 11.5 50.61
88 LaGrange 6 $118,000 33.39% $39,641 12.3 50.56
89 Tucker 4 $223,600 22.09% $73,197 21.2 50.48
90 Jesup 4 $94,100 48.43% $42,798 14.5 50.40
91 Dublin 5 $91,900 37.04% $39,100 13.7 50.39
92 Hawkinsville 5 $102,100 62.51% $47,091 2.7 50.22
93 Lovejoy 4 $98,500 -2.54% $39,119 17.3 50.13
94 Gainesville 5 $164,500 13.30% $41,472 20.5 50.12
95 Athens 4 $156,700 79.87% $50,576 12.5 50.04
96 Fair Oaks 4 $96,100 -15.38% $26,880 19.3 50.01
97 Statesboro 5 $124,900 62.66% $30,932 8.0 49.94
98 Decatur 3 $339,100 140.65% $114,057 19.4 49.85
99 McRae 5 $63,600 35.04% $36,780 11.3 49.72
100 Columbus 3 $133,300 46.33% $50,999 16.1 49.71
101 Cedartown 4 $108,500 43.87% $35,338 17.0 49.22
102 Griffin 4 $107,800 33.44% $40,149 14.6 49.05
103 Barnesville 5 $107,400 33.34% $40,503 16.3 48.82
104 Tifton 5 $128,600 7.72% $32,569 12.5 48.76
105 Forest Park 3 $66,300 -1.11% $33,182 17.7 48.72
106 Conley 4 $68,000 11.61% $35,132 12.5 48.22
107 Brunswick 6 $94,700 48.67% $33,112 7.8 48.00
108 Garden City 3 $106,100 19.93% $35,642 10.9 47.99
109 Monroe 5 $110,300 29.27% $35,549 11.3 47.96
110 Swainsboro 3 $69,900 37.81% $27,931 11.7 47.93
111 Augusta 3 $101,200 39.91% $46,131 12.1 47.78
112 Fort Valley 2 $69,500 42.83% $28,060 9.2 47.75
113 Chamblee 6 $240,200 27.90% $58,826 15.3 47.70
114 Savannah 4 $145,900 55.19% $45,063 11.0 47.69
115 Hapeville 4 $111,700 18.57% $40,500 15.2 47.43
116 Riverdale 3 $98,100 18.03% $46,659 15.5 46.94
117 Georgetown 2 $171,700 13.25% $54,803 21.4 46.85
118 Clarkston 1 $101,100 -17.25% $30,977 30.2 46.75
119 Thomasville 5 $138,200 24.58% $37,281 10.9 46.15
120 Moultrie 4 $94,500 29.61% $28,765 13.4 45.85
121 Redan 2 $102,700 2.05% $52,619 11.9 45.37
122 Bainbridge 5 $108,700 49.55% $37,192 8.4 45.30
123 North Decatur 3 $243,900 56.15% $78,150 13.0 44.93
124 Americus 2 $92,300 41.92% $38,045 11.7 44.71
125 Albany 4 $98,200 20.23% $34,433 8.7 44.61
126 Sandy Springs 6 $424,700 57.77% $95,338 17.6 43.99
127 North Druid Hills 4 $293,100 60.35% $77,819 9.7 43.58
128 Doraville 4 $145,100 -20.20% $32,432 17.1 43.56
129 Atlanta 4 $210,000 66.91% $58,036 9.8 43.33
130 East Point 2 $105,100 33.80% $42,646 10.5 43.23
131 Union City 3 $102,800 -4.39% $33,773 12.2 43.21
132 Thomson 4 $87,600 2.24% $23,698 9.6 42.99
133 Stone Mountain 3 $105,000 23.62% $47,721 8.6 42.59
134 Cairo 4 $121,800 31.99% $30,428 10.3 42.22
135 Druid Hills 4 $475,800 106.50% $130,000 19.2 42.21
136 Sandersville 4 $95,300 18.24% $32,162 12.4 42.18
137 Macon 3 $87,400 19.47% $32,741 9.2 41.72
138 Milledgeville 4 $111,300 10.93% $33,816 6.8 40.20
139 College Park 3 $167,600 13.72% $35,078 8.6 34.97
The final list doesn’t include 17 places that were missing GreatSchools data, homeownership cost information or 1999 median income figures.

Methodology

All data are from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Our methodology focused on four factors:

Home affordability. Home affordability, 30% of the total score, was calculated by averaging index scores for median home value and median selected monthly owner costs. The lower the costs, the higher the score.

Growth and prosperity. Growth and prosperity are 20% of the total score. The two metrics involved were growth in family income from 1999 to 2013, and median family income in 2013. Both were weighted equally and positively.

Family friendliness. To measure if an area is a good place for families, which is 30% of our total score, we looked at the percentage of married couples with at least one child under age 18, and the percentage of families in poverty with at least one child under age 5. The percentage of families with at least one child was 70% of the score, while the percentage of families in poverty was 30% of the score.

Educational quality. Using data from GreatSchools, every place was assigned a ranking from 1 to 10 for the quality of schools. Education is 20% of the total score.


Savannah, Georgia, image via iStock.