Living in the greater Sacramento area affords a high quality of life for those with young families, a distinction that’s just been recognized in a national survey by NerdWallet.com. In fact, several Northern California cities ranked in the top ten for best cities to raise a family in the state, including some of Sacramento’s closest neighbors, Davis, Roseville, and Folsom.

Additionally, nearby Walnut Creek and Yuba City Clovis, California actually ranked #1, and from there it was largely a mix of suburbs of Los Angeles and San Diego. According to NerdWallet, they ranked these cities based on three main factors:


Many young California families would love to live in San Francisco, Venice or Santa Cruz, but the cost is too prohibitive for most and the competition for decent schools is daunting. So other critical factors in determining desirability for families include:

  • median home values in each city along with average mortgage payments,
  • real estate taxes,
  • monthly home expenses,
  • utilities, fuel, insurance, and other typical costs.

In determining ranking, the more overall affordability a city was for a new family, the higher its number.

Growth and prosperity

The third piece of NerdWallet’s criteria was based on economic climate, including the average household income and income growth over the last decade. Cities that earned a ten offered the best chance for new residents to land good paying jobs, prosper financially, and provide for their families.

Quality of public education

NerdWallet rated the city’s public school systems using academic performance rankings from GreatSchools, a nonprofit that that compares a school’s standardized test scores with the state average. This system rates schools 1-10, with 10 being the best possible score for a public school system.

Based on the compilation of those rankings, here are the cities in the greater Sacramento area that ranked in the top ten:

Folsom, California, #2

For those that live here, it’s no surprise that “Wholesome Folsom” ranks so high on this list of best cities. Only 20 miles east of Sacramento, Folsom has just about everything you would want in a neighborhood for your family, from fantastic schools, vibrant economy bolstered by tech firms like Intel, Verizon and Jadoo Power, and a median household income near $100,000.

The other thing that makes Folsom a dream come true is its access to natural beauty. For nature enthusiasts and outdoor sportsman alike, Folsom has endless miles of hiking trails, cycling and running paths that extend all the way to downtown Sacramento and beyond. Lake Folsom is ideal for swimming, boating, and waterskiing, and it’s an hour drive up the mountain to Lake Tahoe. Historic Old Folsom is lively on the weekends, jumping with music, street fairs, and a great art and restaurant scene.

While it’s not cheap, Folsom is still reasonably affordable for a new family, with real estate that holds its value well and always is in demand. With all the great things going for Folsom, the only thing we wonder is why it’s not #1!?

Roseville, California, #8

The other sought-after Sacramento neighbor on the list, Roseville, has a little bit of everything for young families. Good-paying jobs are plentiful, with the economy invigorated by local employers Kaiser Permanente and Hewlett-Packard.

Roseville consistently boasts some of the best public schools in the state. It’s also one of the safest communities in California, and residents enjoy the mature trees, around 41,000 acres of beautiful parks, 31 miles of recreational trails, a revitalized downtown, and a little Gold Rush history thrown in.

Roseville is no stranger to accolades, as CNN ranked it as one of America’s Top 100 Small Cities.

Davis, California, #9

The beautiful community of Davis, California lies directly west of Sacramento. Often called “Berkeley North,” it’s a placid, earthy academic community, based around the prestigious University of California at Davis. It’s rich with arts and culture, yet still keeping its agricultural roots – one of the University’s strengths.

Just a short 15 minutes across the causeway from downtown Sacramento, Davis is also only about an hour commuting distance to San Francisco. The public schools are fantastic, it has one of the lowest crime rates in California, and Davis has healthy job market.

It’s also one of the greenest cities in the country, and between walking trails, locally owned businesses and the Robert Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, there is always something fun to do.

Surely Davis would rank higher on the list if it weren’t for the cost of living, with a median home value of $560,500 – a stretch to afford for many first time buyers. But housing prices don’t ever seem to go down in Davis, and families enjoy laid back, small-town, green living among modern culture and academia.


I have a lot of knowledge about these three communities so I’d love to help you and your family buy or sell your home there. Please contact me for more information if you’d like to live in one of these top-three areas for families.