From online consumer advocacy group Nerdwallet- a study of the Best Places for Young Families:
The Grand Canyon State boasts immense natural beauty – including Petrified Forest and Saguaro National Park – phenomenal food, and great places to live, from more high-end communities like Scottsdale to up-and-coming, affordable towns like Buckeye.
As we studied each city and town in the state looking for the best fit for young families, we asked the following questions:
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 through 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 average 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 average household income and income growth over the last decade. Higher income and greater growth led to a higher overall score.
I think some of our readers will be surprised at the results, as Oro Valley, north of Tucson scored #1:
1. Oro Valley
Oro Valley is a dynamic center of education and research. The town is home to a dozen high-tech firms, emerging as a regional center for the biotech industry and providing for lucrative employment opportunities. Oro Valley is distinguished by attractive qualities such as a median household income that is nearly 50% higher than the US median, a #1 FBI safety ranking in the state of Arizona and an excellent school district. Oro Valley’s BASIS Charter School is regularly ranked as one of the top ten high school programs in the country. Its students consistently outperform on both the statewide and national levels and go on to attend outstanding universities.
And Sahurita, south of Tucson scored #10:
Sahuarita prides itself on its natural beauty and its strong educational system, for children and adults alike. The town boasts 7,000 acres of natural spaces, including pecan groves and agricultural fields. Sahaurita High’s music department recently got a big boost: the GRAMMY Foundation awarded the program $5,500 in grant money to support fine art education at the school. Furthermore, both the University of Arizona and Pima Community College have partnered with the school district to bring more higher education opportunities to the city.
And Sierra Vista in Southern Arizona came in #6.
Check out the other best Arizona towns on their website (click here). Can you guess what the other 7 are? I figured one might be Prescott, former capital of Arizona Territory.