Monday July 22nd, 2024 1:10PM

Report: Jefferson, Buford, Flowery Branch among best cities for young families

By Ken Stanford

UNDATED - A report on the best places in Georgia for young families by NerdWallet places Jefferson, Buford and Flowery Branch in the top ten.

The study found that one of the biggest attractions for young families is the lower cost of living: the median home price in Georgia is  $128,100.

It was NerdWallet’s second analysis of the best places and among the trends it revealed are:

  • Small towns are big. The average population of the top cities is just over 14,100 people, and half of the places have less than 10,000 people. The top 10  range from Flowery Branch with 5,800 people to Evans, home to 31,739.
  • Incomes are higher. Family income is higher for all of the places on our list with an average of $70,000 — well above the state average of $53,029. The highest average family income is nearly $97,500 in Evans, while the lowest is just shy of $50,000 in Cusseta.
  • Lots of families live here. The cities on our list have a high number of family households — married couples with children under age 18. On average, each town’s population is about 34% families, which is almost double the statewide average.

In compiling the report, the authors looked at:

  • Home affordability - median home value and selected monthly homeowner costs to prioritize affordable communities.
  • Prosperity and growth - current and past family incomes, calculating the income of residents, as well as the projected long-term growth of each city.
  • Quality of education - ratings at GreatSchools.org to find the best schools.
  • Family friendliness - a new component was added to the methodology this year — the percentage of families with school-age children and the poverty rate for young children. This measure helps determine if an area is not only affordable for families, but if it is also a healthy one for children.

WHAT THE REPORT SAYS ABOUT...

JEFFERSON

Jefferson, a city named for Thomas Jefferson, is about an hour outside Atlanta, in Jackson County. The population is 9,503, and about 30% of residents live in a family household. Students go to the Jefferson City School District, which has a GreatSchools score of 9 out of 10. The city is home to an outdoor agricultural museum, a community theater and several parks. The city hosts events throughout the year from the annual Freedom Festival to live music in the downtown square and the holiday market.

BUFORD

Buford is a small city that straddles Gwinnett and Hall counties. Here home values are higher than the state median, and the schools also have higher numbers with a GreatSchools score of 9 out of 10. The town hosts outdoor movies and concerts at the Main Street Park and Amphitheater. For sports and other activities, families head to the Buford Youth Sports Complex.

FLOWERY BRANCH

Flowery Branch, nestled in the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountain in Hall County, is the smallest city on our list with 5,829 people. Residents here have seen their income grow over 120% from 1999 to 2013. The town is part the Georgia Main Street/Better Hometown Program, which helps communities revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts. New housing developments are popping up and median home values are on the higher end at $191,600. Flowery Branch has a historic main street, train depot and museum, but its main claim to fame since 2005 is the city’s role as the training site for the Atlanta Falcons.

NerdWallet crunched the data for 156 places in Georgia— cities, towns and census-designated places. Only places with over 5,000 residents were analyzed. To see the full data set, click here.

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