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America’s Best Place to Raise Kids

From Bloomberg Business Week

See which town ranked highest in BusinessWeek's survey of the Best Places to Raise Your Kids. Hint: It's in Illinois

By Prashant Gopal


Affordable, safe, and family-friendly

You'd think that the character of a village that grew from 12,000 to 60,000 residents in less than 40 years might have changed with the population. But young families move into Tinley Park, Ill., a proud village 25 miles southwest of Chicago, for the same reason that Edward and Emily Zabrocki chose to raise their children there in 1970.

"We looked at the schools and the community services," said Zabrocki, a retired high school guidance counselor who has been Tinley Park's mayor since 1981. "And we found a house that was good for our pocketbook."

Tinley Park, with its top-rated schools, low crime, beautiful parks, relatively affordable houses, and easy access to jobs, is the winner of BusinessWeek's Best Places in America to Raise Kids. Working with OnBoard Informatics, we chose a winner for each state, but the Chicago suburb scored the highest.

Named after the village's first railroad master in the 1800s, Tinley Park has two train stations, which carry commuters to Chicago in 45 minutes. Single-family homes for sale in Tinley Park start at $166,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath house spread over 1,200 square feet to brand-new four-bedroom house for $630,000.

Settling Down

All three of the main high schools serving Tinley Park are ranked in the top 100 in the state. And the students are closely tied to the community and often stay there after graduating. At Andrew High School, where each student is required to complete 24 hours of community service to graduate, only about 3% of the 2,400 student body move away during high school, compared with the state average of 14%, said principal Robert Nolting.family

"There are a high number of kids in Tinley Park who have lived there their whole life," Nolting said. "Of the communities I've lived in or have been part of, it has more interconnectedness to it. It feels smaller than it is. The village is quiet and safe.

Friendly Atmosphere

Safety, along with school test scores, air quality, and affordability, were weighted especially highly in this year's calculations. But we also considered job growth, diversity, and amenities such as museums, parks, and theaters.

We teamed up with OnBoard Informatics, a New York-based provider of real estate analysis, to select one town and two runners-up for each of the 50 states. The selections were limited to towns that have at least 45,000 residents and a median income of between $40,000 and $125,000. Vermont was given a pass on the population restrictions because none of its cities would otherwise have made the cut.

We used the same criteria to rank the towns, but we shifted the weights slightly to come up with what we consider better results. The data we used included school performance, number of schools, household expenditures, crime rates, air quality, job growth, family income, museums, parks, theaters, other amenities, and diversity.

Affordability, safety*, and school test scores were given the greatest weight.

*For all slides, relative safety was measured by the "total crime risk," an index of the combined risks of rape, murder, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, and vehicle theft. Crime scores were based on demographic and geographic analyses of crime over seven years. School performance was based on state reading and math test scores and came from Great Schools. Zoo data came from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and museum, theater, park, and recreation information came from InfoUSA. Air quality information came from the Environmental Protection Agency, household expenditures and diversity data were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, and job growth data came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Source: OnBoard Informatics


TINLEY PARK – Quality of Life Statistics

BEST PLACES TO LIVE Report – CNN MONEY

Financial

City stats

Best places avg.

Median family income
(per year)


$90,663

$90,957

Family purchasing power
(annual, cost-of-living adjusted)


$93,660

$86,860

State sales tax

6.25%

5.45%

State income tax rate
(highest bracket)


N.A.

7.35%

State income tax rate
(lowest bracket)


3.00%

2.96%

Auto insurance premiums
(Average price quotes, for the state)


$1,441

$1,707

Job growth %
(2000-2009)*


9.65%

15.71%



Housing

Median home price

$193,500

$239,391

Average property taxes
(2008)


$6,978

$3,418



Education

Colleges, universities and
professional schools (within 30 miles)


47

25

Test scores reading
(% above/below state average)


25.4%

22.9%

Test scores math
(% above/below average)


21.2%

22.9%

% students attending public/private
schools (located within town limits)


82.1/17.9

87.8/12.2

Quality of life

Air quality index*
(% of days AQI ranked as good)


50.0%

77.8%

Personal crime incidents (per 1,000)

33

2

Property crime incidents (per 1,000)

243

24

Median commute time (in minutes)

29.7

21.4

% population with commute
45 mins. or longer


32.3%

13.6%

% population walk or bike to work

1.2%

3.6%

Leisure and culture

Movie theaters
(within 15 miles)


22

31

Restaurants
(within 15 miles)


3,617

2,967

Bars
(within 15 miles)


530

207

Public golf courses
(within 30 miles)


248

162

Libraries
(within 15 miles)


98

72

Museums (accredited by AAM;
within 30 miles)


14

10

Ski resorts (within 100 miles)

9

12

Arts funding (Dollars per person of state funds spent on arts)

0.7

1.5

Weather

Annual rainfall
(inches)


37.50

37.40

% clear days in the area

23

29

High temp in July ° F

83.9°

86.2°

Low temp in Jan ° F

15.3°

21.3°

Median age

37.3

35.3

Completed at least some college
(% of residents)


59.5%

71.5%

Married %

58.7%

56.6%

Divorced %

7.4%

8.4%

Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)


84.9

94.9