Cities of Opportunity:

Best Cities for Families 2020

As experts in helping families relocate, here at Movinga we know that parents and their children have different needs and expectations than individuals when moving to a new city. After analysing the best cities for various opportunities such as finding love, education, employment, or starting a new business, we decided to turn our attention towards the fundamental features of a city that concern parents or parents-to-be when looking to make a move. The result is a comprehensive new study across 16 factors that reveals the best cities for families around the world.

We began the study by selecting 150 international cities that have a reputation as attractive locations for raising a family. We then split the study into numerous factors across three categories which indicate how family-friendly a location is. This included essentials that affect city livability like housing, education, employment rates, and general affordability, as well as family legislation such as the amount of paid parental leave and whether a city is inclusive for same-sex parents. 

It was important to include the opinions of the families who experience these cities themselves, so we commissioned two surveys of parents in each location to gain a measurement of public sentiment towards them. The first survey asked parents to indicate how they felt about their children’s safety in the community, and the second if they believed that their city was a good place for families in general. Last but not least, we looked at the attractiveness and breadth of a city’s family-oriented leisure activities. 

The final index combines all of these factors to determine the top cities around the world that offer the best conditions to raise a family.


Each column in the table below is filterable. The data for all factors are scored out of 100 (unless stated otherwise), where the higher the score, the better. The full methodology explaining how each factor was calculated can be found at the bottom of the page.

City
Country
Housing Affordability
Living Costs by Income
Unemployment (%)
Education
Safety
Mobility
Air Quality  (µg/m3)
Healthcare
Kids’ Activities
Paid Parental Leave (Days)
Family Inclusivity
Neighbourhood Safety
Family-Friendliness
Total
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City Livability
Family Legislation
Parent Surveys

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City Livability
Family Legislation
Parent Surveys

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Top 20
Full Data
Methodology
This study reveals the best cities around the world for families, according to multiple diverse factors that make a city attractive for a family to live.

150 cities from around the world were selected for the study due to their popularity as family-friendly destinations, as well as for the availability of high-quality data sources for each location.

The study is divided into three categories: City Livability, Family Legislation, and Parent Surveys. These categories are then divided further into 13 factors that determine the suitability of a destination for families: 

City Livability: Housing Affordability, Living Costs by Income, Unemployment (%), Education, Safety, Mobility, Air Quality (µg/m3), Healthcare, Kids’ Activities.
Family Legislation: Paid Parental Leave (Days), Family Inclusivity.
Parent Surveys: Neighbourhood Safety, Family-Friendliness.

All factors were then scored using the following calculations, unless otherwise stated. 


Scoring:
The score for each factor was calculated by applying a min-max normalization to the underlying indicator. For factors where multiple underlying indicators were used, the indicators were standardized as Z-Scores and combined into a factor score as a weighted average of the Z-Scores.

The equation for Z-Score standardization is as follows:
Zscore = x - µσ

The equation for normalization is as follows:
score = (x - min(X)) / (max(X) - min(X)) * 100

The min-max normalization results in a score between 0 and 100, where 0 represents the lowest value and 100 the highest value in the dataset. For columns where a low value is better, the score was inverted such that a high score is always better. 

The equation for inverted normalization is as follows:
scoreinverted = 100 - (x - min(X)) / (max(X) - min(X)) * 100

Therefore, the higher the score, the better the city ranks for that factor in comparison to the other cities in the index. All of the information collected is based on the latest data available.

Below you can find a detailed description of each factor within the study, and the sources used.


City Livability:

Housing Affordability
Median monthly rent as a share of household income, after tax. Higher scores indicate greater affordability for the median wage-earner. Properties of 3-bedrooms (95-110 m2) were taken for a family-sized dwelling. Original data collected between October and November, 2019. The average household was estimated to receive twice the median income.

Sources (real estate): Seloger (FR), Immobilienscout24 (DE), Bostadsurf (SE), Bolig (DK), Oikotie (FI), Rightmove (UK), Trulia (US), Zillow (US), Domain (AU), Willhaben (AT), Kijiji (CA), Spitogatos (GR), Daft (IE), Idealista (IT), other local rental websites
Sources (income): Eurostat, US Census, Statistics Canada, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Stats NZ, Swiss Federal Statistics Office, other sources.

Living Costs by Income
Monthly living costs as a share of household income, after tax. Higher scores indicate greater affordability. A basket of estimated monthly costs includes: basic utilities costs, private childcare for one, groceries, internet connection, leisure activities, clothes, and eating out once a month. Childcare was specified as: Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child. All figures applicable to November 2019. 

Sources (living costs): Numbeo.
Sources (income): Eurostat, US Census, Statistics Canada, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Stats NZ, Swiss Federal Statistics Office, other sources.

Unemployment (%)
Annual 2018 unemployment (percent) at a local level. Latest available data. National figures were taken for Doha and Kuwait City.

Sources: Eurostat, OECD, Bureau of Labor Statistics (US), Insee (FR), Office of National Statistics (UK), other local statistics departments, media sources.

Education
The average educational performance of adolescents in the fields of reading, mathematics and science. Both national and sub-national OECD PISA test results were used as a basis. Sub-national results were used in the US, Germany, France, Canada, UK, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, UAE, and Turkey. Average PISA scores were taken in mathematics, reading and science. In instances where PISA results were unavailable, adjusted national examination results were applied. Latest available data.

Sources: PISA-Program for international student assessment, OECD, World Bank, Resultats Brevet 2020 (FR), UKGov, The Nation’s Report Card (US), Council of Ministers of Education Canada, Australian Council for Educational Research, Aydin Dogan Vakfi (TR), media sources.

Safety
The degree of safety experienced by residents at a city level. Score includes aspects such as personal and infrastructural security, as well as perception of safety.

Sources: EIU 2019 Safe Cities Index, 2019 Global Residence Index, Social Progress Index, FBI, Eurostat, Numbeo, other sources.

Mobility
The efficiency of a city’s public and private transport systems. Scores consider the breadth and regularity of a public transport system, as well as the share of commuters as a percentage of the population. Private transport efficiency was measured by the degree of traffic congestion in a given city. Congestion estimates based on sub-regional averages were used for Jerusalem, Karachi, Doha, Tbilisi andManama. High scores typically indicate exceptional public transport connections and low levels of congestion. Scores emphasise public transport as a means of travel. Latest available figures.

Sources (public transport): Local transport authorities, AllTransit, World Metro Database, Arcadis, Deloitte, Numbeo.
Sources (congestion): Tomtom, Inrix, Waze.

Air Quality (µg/m3)
The annual average level of  PM10 pollution (micrograms per cubic metre) at a city level. Latest available figures. Estimates based on PM2.5 levels were used for Hannover, Leipzig, Washington (DC), Atlanta, Dallas, Portland, Porto, Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Austin, Indianapolis, Sacramento, Tampa, Manama, Charlotte, Nashville, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Virginia Beach.

Sources: World Health Organisation, OECD.

Healthcare 
The measure of a city’s healthcare system based on access, quality and satisfaction. 2016 national Health Access and Quality (HAQ) data was used for access and quality indicators, while cities in the US, the UK, Mexico and China used sub-national data. Satisfaction results were taken at a city level. Latest available data.

Sources: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Numbeo.

Kids’ Activities
The attractiveness of a city’s family-oriented leisure activities. Scores combine the median ratings of all activities labelled ‘family-friendly’ on Foursquare or ‘kid-friendly’ in Google ‘Things to do’. Cities with high scores offer a large share of highly-regarded activities suitable for families.

Sources: Foursquare, Google.


Family Legislation:
Paid Parental Leave (Days)
The combined mandated duration of paid leave associated with childbirth, including maternal, paternal and parental leave. Latest available data.

Sources: OECD, International Labour Organisation, media sources.

Family Inclusivity
The comprehensiveness of equality legislation for same-sex couples and/or parents. Full points were awarded to those cities legislating for both same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. Cities with lower scores either legislate against or do not recognise marriage or adoption by same-sex couples. Distribution of points is commensurate with Equaldex rankings. Latest available data. Further data was provided by Wikipedia LGBT Portal.

Sources: Equaldex, Wikipedia.


Parent Surveys:
Neighbourhood Safety
The degree to which local parents in each city find their community to be a safe place to raise children, obtained from survey results conducted between October and November 2019. 10,000 parents (of which 4,620 responded) across all cities with children between the ages of 7-9 were asked to respond to the following statement:

“I am comfortable letting my child go to the corner shop alone.” (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being very comfortable)

This livability measure originates from the ‘The Popsicle Index’ conducted by The Solari Report, which utilises a simple quality-of-life mechanism to determine the character of  the living ecosystems that constitute a community. This mechanism is defined as the percentage of people in a community who believe that a child can safely leave their home, walk to the nearest possible location to buy a popsicle, and walk back home.

The results of the survey were then compiled and converted into a scoring system, where the higher the score, the better the city for families.

Source: Survey conducted from 23.10.2019 - 19.11.2019

Family-Friendliness
The degree to which local parents in their city find to be family-friendly, obtained from survey results conducted between October and November 2019. 20,000 parents (of which 6,280 responded) across all cities with children between the ages of 0 to 21 were asked to respond to the following statement:

“This city is a good place for families.” (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being very good)

The results of the survey were then compiled and converted into a scoring system, where the higher the score, the better the city for families.

Source: Survey conducted from 23.10.2019 - 19.11.2019.