Is California a Good Place to Raise a Family?

If you've never lived in California, there's basically only two sides of the Golden State that you may see on TV and in movies. The posh Beverly Hills side, where everybody is rich and often stereotyped as being fake, snobby, or stuck up, or the lower class side, in which everybody lives in "the hood" and where blood and crip gangs run rampant and everybody is on welfare. It's always one extreme or the other when you turn on your TV or go to a movie theater. The entertainment industry rarely ever shows the other sides of California, but they should, because California is a very diverse state with all types of different neighborhoods and lifestyles. Whether you're originally from a small rural town in North Carolina or Alabama, or a larger city like Columbus, Ohio or West Palm Beach, Florida, there's a little something for everyone in California. What makes California so great, is that all these different types of areas are easily accessible from each other, especially in Northern California. So if you're living in a cabin in the woods, and suddenly decide you want to go visit the big city or lounge on the beach, you have the option to do this within an hour from wherever you are. But what about people who want to raise a family? Well there's plenty of good reasons why someone with kids would choose California over any other state. Let's take a look at some of the reasons why.

Living Well
While there are some areas in California that are ridden with crime, drugs, and all the negative aspects you would expect to find in places like those, there are much more upscale areas in contrast to all of that. In life, there is usually very rich areas wherever there is poor areas. For every Manhattan, there's a Queens. For every Compton, there's a Beverly Hills. Of course, living in Manhattan and Beverly Hills can cost you an arm and a leg. But there are many affordable cities in California, as long as your working a job with average pay. While it's true that California is very expensive compared to other states, the jobs usually pay more as well, so that sort of makes up for it. In life, you will usually get what you pay for. So although California may be very expensive to live, that also means that the standards are much higher in your local neighborhoods. It brings hardworking people together, and weeds out many of the bad elements you find in society. San Francisco, for example, is the second best place in the country for Quality of Life, with Honolulu, Hawaii being the first, according to a Quality of Living survey released by Mercer. This means that your odds of your family living a good life in a place like San Francisco, are much higher than the likelihood of your family living a good life in 99.9% of other places. Many other cities in California are similar and may even offer cheaper living as well. Los Angeles may be what most people see when they watch movies based in California, but it's a very large state and L.A. is not a representative to all the other areas, though there are many nice areas in L.A. as well.

Good Schools
California has lots of great High Schools, but it's Colleges are world renowned. When it comes to High Schools, US News did a report and evaluated the country's schools to pick the 25 best High Schools. Out of those 25, six of them were schools in California, the highest ranking one being Whitney High School in Cerritos, CA in the #3 position. The other five were Oxford Academy in Cypress at #4, Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz at #7, California Academy of Math and Science in Carson at #22, Animo Leadership Charter High School in Inglewood at #23, and Lennox Mathematics, Science and Technology Academy in Lennox at #25. California is the only state in the survey to have over four schools listed. When it comes to Colleges and Universities, California offers some of the most well known schools on the planet, such as UC Berkeley, Cal State, Stanford, UCLA, and the San Francisco Art Institute. There is no doubt that your children's educational futures are very promising in a state like California. The plethora of options available to them is limitless. In addition to great schools, there are lots of good influences in most communities. A nice environment with other hard-working people can definitely motivate a child growing up there and cause them to try harder to succeed in life like their neighbors. Though it's usually associated with adults, Keeping Up with the Joneses can often play a role in children's lives as well.

Family Activities
When it comes to activities, California has more than most of the other states combined. If the family wants to go camping in a redwood forest one weekend, or go skiing on top of a mountain the next, these activities are easy to engage in, thanks to California's diverse landscape. There's cities like San Francisco that can offer fun sight-seeing adventures, and beaches for those who like to have some fun in the sun. If you'd like to take your family to see live bands, there's areas like Santa Cruz where they have free concerts on the beach every Friday in summer, with live acts you probably grew up with, like Eddie Money, Blue Oyster Cult, and Flock of Seagulls. In addition to this, there is also a beach and boardwalk there, so your kids can have fun on the amusement park rides, or you can walk along the beach while listening to the music. There's garlic and jazz festivals, There seems to be something for everyone in the Golden State. In a city like San Jose, for example, there's thousands of places for you to shop, with 4 large scale shopping malls. For the kids, there's more things for them to do than probably any other place in the nation. In a 2009 US News survey for America's 10 Best Places, San Jose easily makes the list, with the report citing the Children's Discovery Museum and six public skateboard parks as reasons for including San Jose. In addition to this, San Jose continually makes the list for safest big city in America, often appearing in the #1 position.

Beautiful Scenery
Don't let movies like Boyz n Da Hood paint a picture for you as to what California's landscape is really like. The Golden State spans almost the same distance as all the states from Georgia up to Pennsylvania. So when it comes to terrain, California is like many states combined into one. You have beaches, mountains, valleys, canyons, national parks, ocean, bays, lakes, rivers, cities, forests, deserts and any other type of landscape you can imagine. If you've never seen Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast, then you've been missing out on one of the most beautiful drives in the world, with winding roads stretching along the road, with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. Yosemite National Park has some of the most scenic views in the country, that easily parallel the types of views you would expect to find in the mountain regions of Montana or Wyoming. It has hikeable trails and mountains with beautiful giant waterfalls cascading into the forests below, with other natural attractions such as wildlife and geysers. Napa and Sonoma Valley are also well known for their breathtaking scenery, as they look almost like a scene out of Italy's wine country region, with vineyards stretching across grassy plains. Other well known scenic areas include Carmel, Half Moon Bay, and Big Sur. There are so many stunning sights, you will never run out of sight-seeing activities to take the family on.

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