Rochester retains ranking as state’s ‘best place to raise a family’

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 29, 2019

ROCHESTER — With a bustling downtown, a strong school district and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation — including vibrant trail systems and a plethora of parks — it’s no surprise that many families choose to call Rochester home.

The personal finance website WalletHub recently named Rochester the best place to raise a family in Michigan, topping a list of over 100 cities across the state for the second consecutive year.

In order to help families find the best cities in the state to put down roots, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said, her team compared 102 Michigan cities in four categories: family life and fun; education, health and safety; affordability; and socioeconomics. She said the data in each category ranges from average commute times and school system quality to housing affordability, and separation and divorce rates.

When the numbers were tallied, Gonzalez said, there were several reasons why Rochester came out on top in Michigan for the second consecutive year.

“Rochester has the most playgrounds per capita, a high-quality school system and the most pediatricians per capita. In addition to that, the city has the third-lowest property crime rate and is very affordable. In terms of socioeconomics, Rochester boasts one of the highest shares of two-parent families and one of the lowest shares of families living in poverty, just 3.1 percent,” Gonzalez said in an email.

Based on a 100-point scale, Rochester received an overall score of 70.75 — the highest score in the state — to secure the title as the best place to raise a family in Michigan.

Rochester City Manager Blaine Wing said Rochester has a lot to offer families.

“We have a strong core of services — including police, fire and public works — supported by good administration and financial stability, along with long-term planning … natural beauty, the school system, the (Older Persons’ Commission), the library and (the Rochester Area Recreation Authority) … so we have all of the elements that really makes Rochester the top community in the whole state,” Wing said.

The city’s new Sustainable Rochester framework — a tool designed to ensure responsible and sustainable development decisions in the city by measuring six sustainability values: environmental health, mobility, fiscal strength, public services, strong neighborhoods and downtown viability — has also helped the city’s appeal since the program’s inception last March, according to Wing.

“I truly think that is helping us maintain our levels in certain areas and, hopefully, improve in others,” he said.

In WalletHub’s subcategories, Rochester ranked No. 2 for education, health and safety; No. 10 for family life and fun; No. 11 for affordability; and No. 13 for socioeconomics.

Rochester Community Schools Superintendent Robert Shaner said the district has the funding in place to ensure the educational future of its students.

“With a visionary Board of Education, we are proud to have adopted a balanced and equitable spending plan that is sustainable, promotes growth and ensures world-class student programming,” he said in a statement.

The district’s teachers play a vital role, according to Shaner.

“There is infinite value in having a highly skilled, caring teacher personally engaging with students in a classroom. By investing the time and building a rapport with students, our teachers and support staff inspire young learners to do more than they ever thought possible,” Shaner said in the statement.

Rounding out the state’s top 10 list, South Lyon came in second overall, followed by Beverly Hills, Troy, Novi, Berkley, Holland, East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Midland.

Rochester Hills was ranked 16th overall on the list, with subcategory rankings of No. 9 for education, health and safety; No. 80 for family life and fun; No. 15 for affordability; and No. 7 for socioeconomics. Oakland Township was not ranked.

The National Council for Home Safety and Security and Alarms.org recently recognized Rochester as one of the top five safest cities in Michigan for 2019. Grosse Ile Township ranked first, followed by Beverly Hills, Rochester, Berkley and South Lyon. To identify the safest cities in Michigan, the group reportedly reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics.

Rochester has also been ranked as the fourth-best place to retire in Michigan by SmartAsset.com. Among other factors, the study took into consideration tax burdens for retirees, access to quality health care, and the number of retiree communities and recreation centers.