South by Southwest, fun bars and nice weather are all well and good, but for many the most important factor for any city is how well it will suit their growing family. Personal finance website ValuePenguin chose Austin as its No. 1 family-friendly city out of 156 based on a combination of 16 key metrics. Austin particularly stands out amongst the competition for its high scores in terms of education and environment — kids can attend an excellent school for the day and then spend their afternoons and weekends at parks, playing sports and attending fun outdoor events in Austin’s beautiful weather, setting them up for an active and healthy lifestyle in a city that loves to keep moving. The city also has a higher than average percentage of kids in the population, meaning that kids will be part of a vibrant community of other youth and parents will always be in good company, able to meet and build relationships with other families.
Austin boasts great educational opportunities, from pre-K through university education, with neighborhoods like Olympic Heights, Walnut Creek, Brentwood and Crestview offering particularly acclaimed schools from elementary to high school. Austin Eco Bilingual School was recently featured in Newsweek as one of the best International Baccalaureate schools in the US, a rigorous and far-reaching academic program that sets up students to flourish in university academic environments, and the nearby Texas State at San Marcos is also excellent. For kids who are looking to stay close to home for college, Austin is a perfect fit — the local University of Texas at Austin is a fantastic tier-one school, and those looking for a smaller university with dynamic seminar classrooms and more one-on-one time with professors, local schools like St. Edwards and Southwestern University are a good fit. Austin is also home to the Texas School for the Deaf, an excellent option for families with deaf or hard-of-hearing children.
Families Out in the World
Outside of school and home, Austin has a lot to offer kids and young families. The Austin Children’s Museum, or Thinkery, is a beloved institution offering a wide range of workshops and classes for kids like maker labs, features on significant artists, creative construction, kitchen labs and more. The Austin Nature and Science Center has been active since 1960 and offers outdoor adventure experiences; wildlife, dinosaur, or planetarium-themed birthday parties; and summer camp opportunities for kids of a variety of age groups. The Nature and Science Center is right on Zilker Park, making it conveniently located and also brings kids into actual nature as soon as they’re out of its doors.
One of the most difficult aspects of parenting for many professionals can be work/life balance; while professionals of all kinds in Austin certainly work hard, the city’s laid-back attitude and emphasis on culture, outdoor activity and social engagement mean that it’s a great place to keep the whole family focused on the values and activities that really matter: fun, togetherness and growing up culturally and intellectually enriched, rather than just shuttling from work to home for the grownups and back and forth to school for kids.