Best Cities for Families in [State]

We don’t yet have an example of what of these will look like, but you can certainly turn to our affordable cities lists for some guidance:

The 5 Most Affordable Cities in Wyoming

The 5 Most Affordable Cities in Montana

The 5 Most Affordable Cities in Minnesota

Step 1: The Data

You’ll be shared a Google Docs spreadsheet of the data from the 5 Most Affordable cities in the state, and this is what it’ll look like:

Here’s how to read it:

The cities are already ranked from 1-5. So in the above Fort Collins is the Best Place to Raise a Family in CO, while Lafayette is No. 5.

Total; Estimate; Total population: This represents the population.

Under5: The % of residents under the age of 5.

SchoolAge: The % of residents that are of school age.

TotLibes: No, this does not represent the average # of libations a toddler enjoys each day in [city]. It's the total # of libraries.

KidsCirc: No, this does not represent the # of kids in circulation in the community, which sounds...worrisome. This represents the # of KIDS BOOKS in circulation at the local library/libraries.

Don't worry about Delta-Age and DomCounty.

Families in Poverty: This is the percent of families living beneath the poverty line in the city. (A figure you should basically ignore. #AlwaysPositiveAtJCI)

HS-better: The % of residents with High School education or better.

% LBW (county):

%Insured: % of residents with health insurance.

LongCommute: Average time, in minutes, it takes residents to commute to work.

Walk Score: This is the Walk Score for the community. Walkability is very important to livability.

GreatSchools: This is out of 10, and a rating like Walk Score.

Diversity: A measure of the community's diversity. Higher is more diverse.

Crime: This is an index, meaning that if the U.S. national average is 100, this is where the community scored in relation to it. Lower is better.

Parks: This is literally just the # of parks in the community. People love parks.

Black: The % of African Americans in the community.

Don't worry about the orange numbers. That's just the score, which adds up to the final score. And how we ranked these.

Step 2: The intro

50-100 words

The intro paragraph should do two things: It should introduce the reader to the state, highlighting the great things about living in it. Then you should transition by saying something like, “And it's also a great place to raise a family. Thus, we've sifted through the data to find the 5 Best Places to Raise a Family in [State]. We know this stage of life is a little different, and relies upon variables that you might not have been concerned about in your 20s, or your 70s. Schools, libraries, transportation, parks, etc. take on a different meaning when you've got kiddos to take care of." Yada yada. Remember: These lists are going to be trafficked by people looking to start families (older millennials) or those with families looking to move. So try to be aware of what they might be looking for.

Now we’re onto the show.

Step 3: The cities

50-100 words each

For each city, you should begin by going to its city page on Let’s go to Fort Collins, CO for example. What you’re looking for initially is whether or not this city has made another Top 10. Fort Collins has actually made several of our Top 10s and Top 100s--which you'll definitely want to mention. Why? Because it signifies this is AN AWESOME PLACE TO LIVE. It's consistent in its awesomeness.

Whether or not a city has Top 10 accolades, the next big thing is digging into the data. It will be important to note both the median home price in the city, as well as the household income. I’d also mention whether or not a city falls above or below the national average for groceries, healthcare, and utilities. Next, I’d look at Trulia for data on: Average Age of residents, percent of residents that own or rent, percent of residents that are single, percent that are college educated. This will help readers get a better idea of who’s there and what they’re doing with their lives. Here’s a link to Fort Collins’ guide on Trulia. I love this tool. Just type in a new city in the search bar on top.

Finally, let us know about interesting things to do in the city. What makes it a great place to live? Why is it not only an affordable place, but a place that someone would want to move to?

Once you’re done with that, repeat 4 more times.

Step 4: List the cities 5-1.

This way, people have to read the whole thing to get to the best city.

Step 5: Linking.

Make sure to link to each city’s page on the first time you mention the city’s name in the paragraph. DO NOT LINK in the header. So it might look like this:

4. Naperville, IL

It’s no mystery that Naperville is a great place to live, having already twice been featured on other top 10s. In 2015, it made our…yada yada yada.

DO NOT link to outside articles, especially to Forbes and other data sites like ours, unless absolutely necessary. Also no linking to something like the Naperville Public Library. All links should go to other pages on

Step 6: Feature Image

Flickr Creative Commons is your best friend. So too is Wikimedia Commons. Find something beautiful of the state. Doesn’t necessarily have to be of one of the cities.

Step 7: YouTube videos

Find a corresponding YouTube video for each city. to embed it in the article, take your normal youtube link (NOT THE EMBED CODE or IFRAME) and beneath the header, do this:

The code goes like this:

One of those per city and you’ll be good to go.

Step 8: Load into the CMS. Write a deck. Then you’re done.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Chris Pilny or Natasha Lorens.

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