People played in the ocean despite the lack of sunshine on Memorial Day in La Jolla. Photo by Chris Stone
A family plays in the ocean on Memorial Day in La Jolla. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego was ranked the sixth best city in America to raise a family in a new study by the personal finance website WalletHub intended to guide relocation choices.

The Washington, DC-based company compared more than 180 cities based on 45 metrics considered essential to raising a family, including the cost of housing, the quality of local schools and healthcare systems, and the opportunities for fun and recreation.

San Diego ranked very low on affordability, but very high on education, child care and “family fun.”

Surprisingly amid the national narrative about California’s challenges, three other cities in the Golden State– Fremont, Irvine and San Francisco — also made the top 10.

Only one city in Texas, Plano north of Dallas, was in the top 10. The highest ranking city in Florida was Pembroke Pines near Fort Lauderdale at 40.

“While obviously not perfect — given personal preferences and the limitations of publicly available data — our findings will hopefully give movers a sense of their options,” WalletHub said.

The company said it expects that during the current period of high inflation, a location’s cost of living will be the major factor affecting a decision to move.

But a number of university experts who commented on the results stressed the importance of a city’s overall quality of life in raising a family.

“Healthcare infrastructure, access to nutritious food, air quality, employment opportunities, education systems, and other things contribute to your family’s health outcomes and overall quality of life,” said Dr. Adrienne M. Duke, a professor at Auburn University in Alabama.

Dr. Cristina Santamaria Graff at Indiana University said the best places to move to are “cities that provide families with resources that enrich their everyday experiences including affordable and accessible public transportation, housing, education, and other necessary amenities that contribute to a family’s sense of belonging.”

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.