Families visit Oklahoma for its natural beauty – it features the most diverse landscape of any state, with everything from swamps and prairies to sand dunes and forests. Families settle down here for more, though, including opportunities for their kids.
What that in mind, we asked the following questions as we analyzed cities and towns across the state:
- 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
Piedmont is just northwest of Oklahoma City, and it is home to excellent schools. The school district, overall, boasts a 97.3 percent graduation rate for its three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Its high school also earned an “A” from the state department of education – an honor only 9 percent of Oklahoma schools can claim.
Blanchard is a southwestern suburb of Oklahoma City and one of the quickest-growing communities in the state. A local high school, Blanchard High, earned a near-perfect rating from GreatSchools because of student achievement on standardized tests. The school also has the honor of having won a grant from the state department of education to support its AP Psychology program.
With a median home value of $51,600, Blackwell offers one of the most affordable real estate markets in Oklahoma. Schools here are excellent as well. With their success on standardized tests, students in the town earned a near-perfect rating from GreatSchools.
4. Elk City
Elk City sits on the western edge of Oklahoma, along Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. Nearby are numerous opportunities for higher education, including Southwestern Oklahoma State University and an adult-learning and workforce-training program at the Western Technology Center.
Weatherford is the western capital of Oklahoma. Top industries in the 10,000-person city include agriculture, oil and gas and wind power. Southwestern Oklahoma State University’s campus is here, and it boasts a pharmacy school that is among the best-value programs in the nation, thanks to high performance after school and low cost.
Jenks sits on the West Bank of the Arkansas River, and it is home to a growing tourist industry. Visitors come to the small city to see what some call the Antique Capital of Oklahoma. Additionally, the Oklahoma Aquarium brings 500,000 visitors to town every year.
Tecumseh is a moderately sized city 40 miles east of Oklahoma City. Tecumseh High School has a strong academic record. In its most recent report card, issued by the state government, the school earned an “A” in each major discipline: English, math, science and history.
Yukon sits on the western border of Oklahoma City. The city’s school district serves over 7,800 students, and it has earned a perfect rating from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools for its top-notch community, curriculum, facilities, staff and students.
Collinsville is an outer suburb of Tulsa with a small-town feel and historic main street. The city just received a $20,000 grant to support its work in promoting residents’ health and wellbeing. TSET, which awarded the grant, also gave Collinsville Excellence status for its work in community health so far.
Just off Route 66 is Edmond, one of the safest cities in the nation. Schools here are also among the best in the state. Each of the public high schools earned a perfect score from GreatSchools, and one of them, Santa Fe High, was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2012.
|Rank||City||Nearest big city||GreatSchools rating||Median home value||Monthly owner costs||Median household income||Growth,’99-’11||Overall score for young families|
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)
74 Oklahoma 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.