It seems our little town of Santa Rosa has caught the attention of the nation, ranking even higher than San Francisco on a survey about raising kids..and it’s not good news. Apparently, Santa Rosa is ranked in a list of 15 WORST cities to raise your kids, according to data collected, based on a report by the USDA.

Wait, what?

Not only were we one of the 15 worst cities, we were ranked at #7 – higher than big cities San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago.

The data collected measured the cost of raising a child in the first year in each city against the income of each household. They also figured in the number of Ob/Gyns in the area, average commute time, population of kids 5 years or younger, and number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents.

Here’s the list:

1. New York City, NY
2. Santa Cruz, CA
3. Los Angeles, CA
4. Hagerstown, MD
5. Worcester, MA
6. Miami, FL
7. Santa Rosa, CA
8. Bremerton, WA
9. San Francisco, CA
10. Riverside, CA
11. Providence, RI
12. Portland, OR
13. Modesto, CA
14. Boston, MA
15. Chicago, Il

And here’s how Santa Rosa made it onto the list, according to information posted on The Daily Beast:

Cost of baby’s first year: $32,000
Cost as percentage of household income: 52%
Ob/Gyns per 100,000 residents: 10.8
Population under 5 years old: 5.7%
Avg. commuting time: 24.9 minutes
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: n/a

While admittedly biased, I find this survey to be terribly lacking in information. How can they determine we’re one of the worst cities to raise kids in just by these statistics alone? Personally, I would judge where to raise my kid based on the education they’ll receive, the variety of fun places to take kids to or family events happening throughout the year, the quality of preschools… They didn’t even know the number of parks available, and there are quite a few in Santa Rosa.

Personally, I find our position on this survey to be insulting, and think Santa Rosa is a very family-oriented town that exists in a family-oriented county.

What do you think? Do you agree, or disagree?

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  1. Stephen Shore

    As a Professor and from “back East” I agree that Santa Rosa is a terrible place to raise children.
    Santa Rosa has pretty terrible schools, as does California in general. Add in the gang culture and it’s almost a no-brainer. Throw onto the ‘no thanks’ pile the politics of both Santa Rosa and Sonoma County and Idaho or pretty much any other state looks real good.
    Now I am an adult (empty nest and my children are back East) and love Sonoma County (except for the politics, schools, gangs, etc.) but if I had young children….Nope, I would never live here.

    August 29th, 2013 9:39 am

  2. sonomaborn

    good, the less people here the better

    paradise is paradise, ill take it forever

    August 29th, 2013 9:41 am

  3. Dave T

    I agree that this is somewhat lacking data, no information regarding parks and also no crime data as well. However; they do use a very key piece and that is the cost ratio vs. percentage of household income. Also notable is the % of population of younger children. The extrapolation in this is that you have a community that lacks higher income jobs to offset a higher cost of raising a family and it snowballs from there. We can debate all we want, but from an economic standpoint, it is a valid position to take in the study.

    I agree that we live in an amazing place, with opportunities and activities abundantly available. But also having lived elsewhere across this country I will tell you that California as a whole still lags in key educational and other areas. I would not trade to live anywhere else, but I also do not fool myself into believing that we are the pinacle of opportunity and excellence.

    August 29th, 2013 9:41 am

  4. Ultor

    Santa Rosa is not the best place to raise kids in the US, but it’s still a family-oriented town. The only thing bad about Santa Rosa for raising kids is that there are a few sketchy neighborhoods I wouldn’t want my children (if I had any) to grow up in, and there are some poor-quality public schools. It’s expensive, but for the most part SR is a decent place to raise children. There are also many parks and playgrounds all around SR.

    August 29th, 2013 9:42 am

  5. Tahryn

    While I agree that education is important, I agree with the study whole heartedly! Of the parks we do have, most are run down and unsafe! Besides the homeless that live in some of them leaving trash, and unsafe bits in the sand. More often than not I hear my kids asking “Mommy, can I take my shoes off?”. ABSOLUTELY NOT! You don’t know what you might step on! And I for one do not have any medical coverage for my 4 year old because I cannot afford it. I also make too much for her to be on healthy families. So I am not going to risk ANYTHING just so she can run without her shoes. As far as Preschool? YEAH RIGHT! If I cannot afford healthcare, how the hell am I supposed to afford Preschool?! Yes, there are great ones here in Santa Rosa, but they cost about 50% of our family income OR MORE! Sure sure 4C’s is available, IF YOUR INCOME IS LOW ENOUGH, but don’t get me started on the 4+ year waiting list that you have to sign up for when they are first born, or earlier if you really plan ahead! However if your LUCKY enough to be on welfare there is no waiting list which makes it even longer for everyone else waiting, but I make too much for that too!

    August 29th, 2013 9:42 am

  6. Misty

    I would agree to this. Unless one has money this is not a real nice place. Too Republican and gang-filled for me.

    August 29th, 2013 9:43 am

  7. James jack

    Misty, somehow you do not understand the link between democrats and gangs.


    August 29th, 2013 9:49 am

  8. Miggy

    You seem to miss the importance of gangs, illegals, and a disappearing middle class to all politicians. Keeping working people down is not a red or blue thing. It’s a career politician thing. If you think otherwise, then please step away from the kool-aid.

    August 29th, 2013 9:56 am

  9. Lloyd Christmas

    Expensive – Yes
    Some Crime – Yes (Nothing compared to other places)
    Too Republican – Are you friggin serious? That is laughable. Try living in… oh any state that doesn’t touch the pacific ocean, with the exception of maybe VT. NY, IL, MA are all far more conservative aside from their one major city.

    August 29th, 2013 9:58 am

  10. Tom

    I never thought about the $$ it costs to live here. Shame on me for not caring very much about that. I don’t have any gang issues in my neighborhood and the public schools my kids attend in RVUSD are outstanding. I guess it depends on which side of town you live in . . . and Santa Rosa is too Republican? Is there another Santa Rosa that I didn’t hear about?

    August 29th, 2013 9:59 am

  11. Keith

    So, this article is citing WetPaint.com, which is citing The Daily Beast, which is citing USDA?

    “Santa Rosa is ranked in a list of 15 WORST cities to raise your kids, according to data released by the USDA.”????

    This article makes it sound like USDA, a government entity is calling Santa Rosa a terrible place to raise children. Although, the USDA report cited by the Daily Beat is just about expenditures, not about how nice of a place it is. And the report doesn’t even mention Santa Rosa. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/crc2012.pdf

    So was this just the opinion of a Daily Beast writer?

    Also, if “Playgrounds per 10,000 residents” is a factor and they don’t have the information for Santa Rosa, which has tons of parks, then that will skew the rating.

    Something is way off. I don’t think the PD should be slamming Santa Rosa as one of the worst places to raise children when the information is so questionable.

    August 29th, 2013 10:00 am

  12. The.Village

    Good eye Keith, and duly noted. The survey was based on info from a USDA report, and not from the USDA itself. I made the change.

    August 29th, 2013 10:01 am

  13. C.M.Davis

    This is not the California of the 50′s or even 70′s any more. even friends who were born & raised in the Bay Area of the fore mentioned eras lament how much California has changed and not for the better.

    August 29th, 2013 10:04 am

  14. Al

    @Tahryn: Please look at these sites and get you and your child covered. Yes, it takes a little bit of time but this should really help you guys out. http://www.healthyfamilies.ca.gov/Home/default.aspx


    August 29th, 2013 10:06 am

  15. Laura Winkelbauer

    Just fast, cheap any easy charticle, a type of journalism that the Daily Beast and website of their ilk use to draw traffic. A picture, six or seven random fact presented as a bulleted list that has no real relevance what so ever. Each on separate page designed to be clicked through to the end. This click traffic is used to prove to the site gets traffic in order to sell advertising slots. This Pulitzer Prize winning clickfest comes from base facts the Beasts staff gleaned from the Redfin real estate blog, article “Baby, You’re Expensive,” http://blog.redfin.com/blog/2013/08/baby-youre-expensive.html#.Uh-NEdKbNA3 . They summarized it added the word “WORST” in the title and there you are traffic and sales!!

    August 29th, 2013 10:11 am

  16. Stephen

    How they gathered their data I don’t agree with. However, I can see why Santa Rosa would make a list of “bad places to raise your child”. There’s zero culture here in Santa Rosa…zero! I hear and read about this being wine county, who cares! This is a “working class” town, but the local schools, shops charge us locals as if we are tourist. Being from Fresno, the “gang issues” here are not anything too me, in fact I’ve been lucky enough to have never notice them? If you got a lot of cash and dig on zero culture, then Santa Rosa could be a nice place to raise your child. On the other side, the people of Santa Rosa are friendly and the weather is great. Oh yes, I’m aware there’s millions of artist here, but yet there very little art that you see in our town???

    August 29th, 2013 10:12 am

  17. Mike

    I agree and disagree at the same time. While I moved out of Sonoma County to raise my children in a better area (no gangs, lower crime rate etc.) it really didn’t matter as kids will be kids no matter where you live. They found the same trouble if not more in a small town then they would of found in a big town. What people don’t realize is that in a town like Santa Rosa there is always something for kids to do. In a small town not so much and with that comes boredom and trouble. While these surveys are nationally, you have to wonder how someone can look at statistics only and not visit the location to see what is actually happening there. One last comment $32,000 to raise a kid there? Someone’s making money on diapers and clothes.

    August 29th, 2013 10:17 am

  18. Rusty Shackleford

    Didn’t the PD just publish an opinion saying we were turning into Modesto? Which one is it…?

    August 29th, 2013 10:18 am

  19. John K

    California and Santa Rosa have changed and, as other have noted, not for the better but the results of this study are ridiculous. Detroit did not make the list; where would YOU rather raise your child… Santa Rosa or Detroit?

    August 29th, 2013 10:21 am

  20. Ultor

    If you think Santa Rosa is a bad place to raise kids, go to Richmond or Oakland and do it. Even though both cities may be cheaper, there’s just no way you could think those places are better to raise children. Despite that, Oakland is a pretty cultured city.

    August 29th, 2013 10:23 am

  21. Ultor

    John K: Despite the fact that Detroit has a high crime rate, it has great suburban areas as from what I heard. The schools in Detroit’s suburbs are nice. Also, Detroit’s Canadian border city, Windsor, Ontario, has a low crime-rate and is a really nice place to work and live in. (Most Canadian cities are nice to raise families).

    August 29th, 2013 10:25 am

  22. Jake

    @Tahryn: Please look at these sites and get you and your child covered. Yes, it takes a little bit of time but this should really help you guys out. http://www.healthyfamilies.ca.gov/Home/default.aspx


    August 29th, 2013 10:06 am

    Healthy familiys has raised the income levels this year and are also allowing parents health insurance thru medical.. Please check it out this time around it may work for you as it is for me. I am a single dad with full custody who could not afford health insurance in the past, But with this change to add parents is a blessing for us. I hope it helps you and your family!

    Good Luck,
    Santa Rosa

    August 29th, 2013 10:31 am

  23. Linda

    I’ve raised two children in Santa Rosa and my grandson is now in high school. While California of the ’50s and ’60s is so long gone, it ain’t even funny. Still any child with parent(s) that value education should be able to have a better than average childhood in Santa Rosa. There are plenty of ways to culturally enrich your child in Sonoma County and the whole Bay Area is within a weekend family trip! Santa Rosa is a great community.

    If you have gangbangers in your neighborhood, you should be vigilant about getting them out before they get entrenched. (For all you cholos from the Midwest, not all Mexicans are gangbangers or illegal!) Violence in public places is not a tolerable atmosphere for raising families.

    August 29th, 2013 10:33 am

  24. John K

    Ultor, I agree, Detroit has some excellent suburbs. I was just trying to point out the absurdity of the objective values used to measure this study by asking people to use their subjective reasoning with the question: Where would you want to raise your child, (the city of Santa Rosa) Santa Rosa or (the city of) Detroit?

    August 29th, 2013 10:43 am

  25. Dave T

    What one must note here is that this is a list of “cities”, meaning the area has to have the classifiaction of city to be in this. Looking at the list, it is important to note that 9 of the 15 are what we would call major cities and the other 6 are suburbs of major cities. If you want to put up educational standards and opportunities (core competentcies and art and music programs) in Santa Rosa against suburbs of other major metropolitan areas then you will quickly find that even our bet schools lag not just behind, but far behind other areas. Then add in the cost ratio presented here, and yes, there is definitively an arguement that we rank well behind. And those are facts that simply based on realities that cannot be argued.

    However, this is still a gret place to live. We can get to major multicultural meccas in San Francisco and the Bay Area. We can enjoy a slower paced lifestyle or ramp it up if we choose. We have the ocean and mountains all with a short distance. It is a give and take for sure. And there are certainly worse places to live and grow up than here.

    August 29th, 2013 10:47 am

  26. Ultor

    John K: Definitely Santa Rosa. Even as nice as Detroit’s suburbs may be, it still is extremely cold and there are months of the year where it’s just too cold to go outside to exercise. However, here in the Bay Area, we have our troubled cities too. Oakland is just a big no to raise children in, unless you raise them in a house on the Oakland Hills. It’s really bad down there.

    August 29th, 2013 10:48 am

  27. Peter E. Iodence

    Curious of why the PD is using this format, must be to keep it from people thinking to move here. Anysway here’s my take on this:

    This study hits the nail on the head and big part of this study leaves out the illegal immigration equation. All the aforementioned expenses entailed to raise a child with proper health, education and security have risen exponentially from this fact, but no mention of this in this study.

    Either they have buried they’re heads in the sand or the federal government funded this study and was edited. You can call me bigot and I will call you an ignorant coward, if we don’t face the facts we are hiding them and ignoring the true problems we face.

    How is it that an illegal alien can come here and have five kids in four yeas and an intelligent American citizen is afraid to have one due to cost. People, really, wake up?

    August 29th, 2013 10:59 am

  28. zuma

    Santa Rosa once may have been a good place to raise children, but it isn’t today so I would have to agree with the finding.
    Our schools are terrible and surely will never win any rewards for excellence! College classes at the JC are below the level of high schools classes 20 years ago in most of the nation.
    Do we even have school buses any longer?
    We have been unionized and overpay teachers, and everyone else in govt locally and statewide and yet the state and local govt don’t excel in anything. So we are going to pass the costs of what our leaders promised to workers onto the backs of our kids.
    Constitutional basics used to be taught in grammar and hs civics classes in the east, it seems law schools here and in the state don’t bother teaching any of it today. Thus a fair trial is not something obtainable here. Civics is an unknown term to most if not all students locally.
    SR is still Poduck only more expensive. Luckily home values are regaining their losses so many locals will have the opportunity to do what is best for their children and leave this area.

    August 29th, 2013 11:03 am

  29. Susan

    As a mother or two young children, I agree that it is very expensive to have young children. Daycare and preschools costs are much more than many of my friends/family that live in other CA and other states. We do make a good living so we are not eligible or applying for aid but that does not mean I still want most of my income going to that. So a parents choice is to either stay home and live on the edge of poverty, or have a job and still live on the edge of poverty. Multiple kids makes it even harder. Yes, there are plenty of great parks. Yes, it is a wonderful area to live climate wise. and Yes, I would not move provided i can keep our head above the poverty line. But that will always be a big

    I am not talking about the gangs, the republicans or even the ob/gyn ratios because those do not really affect us as a family. As always, it comes down to $$$. This is a really expensive place to live.

    August 29th, 2013 11:04 am

  30. Kenneth Briggs

    is it becuse of district 5s supervisor Efren the drunk ? Santa Rosa is better than Oakland .

    August 29th, 2013 11:07 am

  31. TP

    With the exception of 3 out-of-state stints for college in very different areas of the US, I’m a lifelong SR resident, 3rd generation. While I agree these statistics alone are “lacking information,” I completely disagree that the ranking missed the mark. I’d consider SR to be one of the three worst cities I can think of to raise kids. As my wife and I await our adoption referral we’re frantically saving as much money as we can and racking up all the degrees and professional certifications and licenses we can so we can get the hell out of here as soon as we bring our baby home.

    August 29th, 2013 11:49 am

  32. Stephen

    Reviewing the list again and thinking about the two years I lived in NYC. Maybe the public schools are not the best, but raising your child in NYC wouldn’t be a bad thing. There’s so much culture and real life there. I won’t put too much into this list. Because my number pick would be Fresno followed by the entire Central Valley!

    August 29th, 2013 11:53 am

  33. Wolfie

    We sold our house in Santa Rosa June last year before my son was to begin school in the city (Kindergarten). We loved our house that we gutted and remodeled and immediate neighbors in a nice neighborhood, loved the Kindercare he attended in RP from early age, however we could not imagine raising our son in the area as time went on. Add the FBI lists of violent crime and gang statistics to this and Santa Rosa per capita will land between 1 and 5, with LA and even Oakland per capita considered. Scary but true. We never regret one day moving to a small town just below Auburn. Although I commute to Marin 2-3 days a week, our quality of life is so much better, along with not fearing for the safety of my child or his ability to learn at a pace with children that are on a similar scale, not coming in behind.

    August 29th, 2013 12:18 pm

  34. BarbraJw

    The real culprit is the State of California. We moved our family to Santa Rosa in 2000, the year our daughter was a freshman in high school. Her father was raised in Marin and I grew up in the Midwest, we were shocked by grimy sidewalks, overgrown vacant lots and dirty school yards everywhere.
    The good people of California have been brainwashed into thinking they live in the best place in the world, California is undeniably beautiful. Any Public project managed by the state of California will take twice as long and cost three times much. Every company doing business with the State already knows there’s no oversight. Simply, there are no Adults in charge, everyone is to busy to do their job.

    August 29th, 2013 12:24 pm

  35. Steve Owen

    By coincidence, I share some attributes with Stephen Shore (first commenter) — professor from the Northeast, adult kids still there. It is no coincidence, though, that I agree with his thoughts. And with California over-represented on the list of worst cities, our new nickname might be the Golden Tarnished State.

    August 29th, 2013 12:30 pm

  36. Mojo

    What? You guys are nuts! Aside from the cost of living (a no brainer, this IS California!) Santa Rosa is a fine place to race a family compared to MOST of the United States!

    No culture? Huh? Have you been to most of the other states? I can’t even begin to believe anybody who says there is no culture here or at are doorstep. You have to make an effort people! But plenty of culture surrounds us!

    Gang problems? You think there are gang problems here? What are you comparing to? It is more of a nuisance than a real problem.

    Education lacking? Well, perhaps, but only because California’s education system is messed up. Compared to most of the state, Santa Rosa has fine schools. And, compared to much (not most) of the counrty, I think our schools hold up fairly well.

    It is too expensive here, absolutely. Anybody that does not have the financial means to survive here comfortably should consider moving somewhere else. But all other negative points are simply invalid!

    August 29th, 2013 12:30 pm

  37. Renay

    Well… let’s pack up and move to Oakland, CA. That city didn’t seem to make it the list. NO THANKS! I would take Santa Rosa all day … every day.

    August 29th, 2013 12:32 pm

  38. Jackie


    I think you should look cholo up in the dictionary. Were you trying to make a derogatory remark against mid-western America???

    August 29th, 2013 12:34 pm

  39. Ken

    Wow, this is just terrible! Santa Rosa is absolutely terrible. I think all you people should move far, far away from this terrible city. Make a run for it! (Ooh, I am SO ready to start to enjoy less crowding and being able to get to a park with a parking spot once in a while…) Go, go now! Don’t look back!

    August 29th, 2013 12:55 pm

  40. Armand Negrita

    Just a general comment: Santa Rosa reminds me of what Los Angeles was like 20-30 years ago. Everyone here is so caaaaaassssssuuuuuuaaaaal. And “laid/layed back”. It’s normal here to see adults go to restaurants (not fast food) wearing an undershirt, crappy looking shorts and flip flops. That’s what you wear at home when no one [hopefully] can see you…not out in the general population. People have no self respect any more. Of course 2/3 are fat slobs so I suppose wearing a shirt, long pants and shoes with socks would be overkill anyway. I won’t even get into the self mutilation/disfiguration with tattoos and shrapnel. Rome is burning folks.

    August 29th, 2013 1:01 pm

  41. Mo

    Soooo oakland and vallejo are some how better? This study lacks information, the people against santa rosa dont seem to have kids… There are plenty of good schools, they just might cost you!! Howarth park? Great park! Beautiful place to raise kids. So much nature available. From the ocean to the forest to lake its all withen 30 minutes from santa rosa. So much to explore and inrich, san francisco has many places to take kids and its withen driving distance. I think the amount they are saying it takes to raise a baby is insanely over estimated. The low income people dont have to spend that much because they get government help so that doesnt even apply to them. There is plenty of culture in santa rosa. We have so many local businesses compaired to other counties, we have an amazing community college that is a stepping stone for so many people in their education. If you agree with this article then move! We dont need you!

    August 29th, 2013 1:46 pm

  42. Mary M.

    When there is gang violence during the school day right outside your children’s elementary school and the parents walk their children up to the door for fear of their kids’ safety, you bet it’s a bad place to raise children. I wouldn’t even mind the expense if it were just a safe place for children to roam around.

    You may not think the gang violence is an issue, but as soon as it affects your innocent family, you will.

    August 29th, 2013 1:49 pm

  43. Cate Caldwell

    USDA needs to stick with rating my steak! That list covers about the only places one would want to live in this country.

    August 29th, 2013 2:13 pm

  44. Wayne Neel

    Get your information correct. The original article from a site that is primarily about entertainment was about “15 WORST cities to raise your kids.” It was not about “raising a child.”

    August 29th, 2013 2:15 pm

  45. Wayne Neel

    Excuse me. The article was about “having a child.”

    August 29th, 2013 2:16 pm

  46. Kento

    Apparently the proper way to raise children in Santa Rosa is to take them to R rated movies at 10:30 at night on a school night. Last night I went to see Kick-Ass 2. Now I’m 30 years old, love comic books and I work nights so I’m up that late…

    But as I was sitting down with my snacks and getting ready to enjoy this ultra violent film two families came in with children around the ages of 6 to 8. I was dumbfounded.

    This is the kind of parenting that’s done in Sonoma County/Santa Rosa. So yeah maybe it is a terrible place to raise a kid because those are the kinds of families your child will interact with…

    August 29th, 2013 2:20 pm

  47. Sonny Nacosta

    Based on the mental acuity displayed in the comments above–the population of Santa Rosa should not be breeding. Cry me fricking river people….if you can’t afford kids, you shouldn’t have them.

    August 29th, 2013 2:29 pm

  48. Chris

    Where on earth did $32,000 for one year come from. Combining our diaper and clothing costs and recognizing that in the first year our baby will predominately breast feed, the cost is no where close to that. Also, with great free child amenities like Howarth Park, the mobile children’s museum, tons of festivals and events, Santa Rosa is a great place to live. It is interesting that they didn’t even calculate all the neighborhood parks and other amenities. This seems like a bogus have witted study.

    I also would point out to the people who are saying we have no culture, that you must not be trying very hard. 6th street play house, the museum, tons of local events, the fairgrounds, WellsFargo Center, there is so much going on, that is if you get off the couch and stop watching NCIS marathons.

    August 29th, 2013 2:39 pm

  49. Dave T

    Note: I have a child here in Santa Rosa. I am active in that childs life, education and activities. I grew up far far from here, east coast and I will tell you, were it not for his mothers family in the area, I would have gotten out of dodge a long, long time ago. My comparisons to where I grew up are simple:

    Education: Second to none. There was no cutting of arts, music, science. Focused education, moving kids forward who were ready for new challenges and getting those that needed more attention the help they needed. Music was a class two days a week in elementary school. Strings started in third grade, band in 4th. GATE/GOAL started in 1st grade and was a class, not a once a month activity. And we rode the school bus to school. You were only picked up and dropped off if you were a “walker” or had activities after school.

    “Outside!” was what my siblings and I were told, constantly. We played in the neighborhood with other kids, explored and came in when the street lights went on. Parks? We had a park 2 1/2 times the size of Anadel/Howarth and Spring lake within two miles, that had picnic groves, ice rink, golf course, lakes and ponds, huge public pool, etc. Not to mention the smaller local parks as well.

    Culture? Being a suburb, we could be in the city in 30 mins. Museums, symphony, Colleges and Universities, health care were second to none.

    The bottom line is that from and educational standpoint CA and Santa Rosa lag behind, period. From a cost standpoint, in relation to that, we are even further behind. Does that mean we are a terrible place to live? Absolutely not. But be fair, objective and to look at the cost of goods and services provided we are definitively behind. Once we recognize that, accept that, then and only then can we work to change that. That is what our task at hand is and I don’t think that could be made any clearer.

    August 29th, 2013 2:57 pm

  50. Dave T

    Chris: Note, your first year child costs are most likely inclusive of the childs birth, healthcare etc., so if you have good healthcare coverage, much of that is covered, if not, it can be staggering. Take a look at those costs as a whole, then add in those other items and it grows exponentially.

    August 29th, 2013 3:02 pm

  51. John Hudson

    How did SANTA CRUZ make that list? Every kid I have ever met would love to live there.

    August 29th, 2013 3:09 pm

  52. Malikka

    I agree that Santa Rosa is not a good place to raise a family. Santa Rosa has become a city for old white retires people. Not for struggling families and children. I was raised in Santa Rosa(Bennett Valley) most of my life and have found that it use to be a city with culture but has gradually change into a retirement city. You have to have money and lots of it to take care of yourself let alone a family.

    August 29th, 2013 3:17 pm

  53. E Marie

    As a Santa Rosa teacher, PLEASE do not lump all schools as “lagging behind.” If you are going to comment about our schools not winning any awards, check your stats first. Look up the Distinguished School Award and see many of our schools listed as schools of academic excellence. Look at our growth each year in test scores. Check our our educators on the front of educator magazines (S. Gonyo). Check out the progressive programs our high schools offer to help prepare kids for college (Piner’s college magnet program, SR’s ArtQuest). We have one of the best community colleges out there, and it is affordable with many grants available to locals. Parents just need to take advantage of what Sonoma County has to offer.
    As far as gangs and crime, we have many more families that support our schools than commit crimes near them. And I have many families that are immigrants and migrant workers that are family and education oriented, have stable jobs, and truly WANT to be involved in the positive end of our community but find it difficult to find a place that welcomes them, as there are many (who have posted above) who assume they aren’t able or interested in participating in our communities.

    Shame on you Santa Rosans for creating a self-fulfilling prophecy about immigrants being no good to our community or economy. Invite them to join you, and you may be amazed at this untapped resource of many family oriented people who crave and thrive on community. I’m going back to my “overpaid” job and going to try to teach my teens to not grow up to be like you.

    August 29th, 2013 3:49 pm

  54. Marie

    Real nice that you took this article down after a few hours and the only way to find it again is through a search…

    August 29th, 2013 4:18 pm

  55. Ultor

    E Marie: They meant illegal immigrants. Many immigrants in the US are wealthy and are good for the economy. Most of the computer jobs being done in Silicon Valley are done by immigrants from Asian countries.

    August 29th, 2013 4:26 pm

  56. Dave T

    E Marie- as noted by at least one college professor above, our schools lag behind, period. California as a whole struggles from an educational standpoint and to argue that winning awards for your state makes you a top school is like saying you won the top prize in a third division, lacking the talent to compete in a top division. Look, yes, there are good schools, programs and teachers who are dedicated to education and their students, who want nothing more than to provide the best possible education to their students. Never once did I say that was not the case at all, but having attended schools in educational systems that offer more to their studentson both ends of the learning spectrum and also challenge them more points to the fact that we simply do not measure up. Facts are facts and we cannot dispute them.

    The question is where do we go from here. Do we stand pat, assume that the status quo will be acceptable, or as a community take this on as a challenge and work to get better.

    August 29th, 2013 4:28 pm

  57. Lisa

    Santa Rosa is an awful place in general and there are NO JOBS! There is no industry to speak of and it’s just ugly.

    West County only! Guerneville preferably.

    August 29th, 2013 5:35 pm

  58. Susan

    Worse than San Francisco? I don’t think so. Every large city or town could use a little overhauling. Yes it is costly to live in Sonoma County, yes the education system could use a few tweaks, but what city could’nt? It seems to me it is very subjective. If you haven’t grown up here, your opinion is skewed by what you read not by what you have experienced. California in general is quickly becoming an undesirable place to be and live granted. So lets take it back from the powers that be and make it a good place again to live and raise a family. How the hell did Jerry Brown get back into office? Not by my vote!

    August 29th, 2013 5:40 pm

  59. Bill

    Personally I am glad Santa Rosa is one of the worst places to raise kids. Santa Rosa is a lot more focused on the good things that life has to offer, not the best day cares.

    August 29th, 2013 5:54 pm

  60. Joseph Askren

    I live in Sebastopol and just wanted to say that maybe the USDA made that report about Santa Rosa because they didn’t want tons of more families moving into our already over-crowded beautiful community? I think the roads are crowded as it is;so if ranking us #7 keeps from more people moving here…I think we should be ranked #2 worst even though we know it isn’t true. I have a 4 month daughter and am blessed to raise her in such a beautiful place. Redwoods,ocean,Sf all within a hour or less drive.
    Or maybe the USDA doesn’t like us because we have farmers markets?

    August 29th, 2013 6:20 pm

  61. STP

    How is Detroit not on this list and Santa Rosa is???

    August 29th, 2013 7:05 pm

  62. Veronica

    We are raising two children in Santa Rosa and there is a ring of truth with some of the previous comments. I have to agree, there is a disappearing middle class and most of the public schools have a disproportionate number of “English as a second language” kids, and it’s extremely expensive to live here. We are blessed to be very well off financially so we can afford the prices here and can afford to put our kids in private school or live in the areas that the schools are much better. But that also being said, there ARE some really great public schools here and great activities to do with kids that are free. It’s undeniably beautiful and if you do have the financial means, a great place to raise kids. Believe me, there’s a ton of other cities that would be much worse to raise your kids. I think this article is definitely lacking in facts, but it does speak to the point that Santa Rosa isn’t the most ideal for the middle class family.

    August 29th, 2013 9:22 pm

  63. Sd

    Best places to raise kids
    1. Compton, ca
    2. Camden, nj
    3. East St. Louis, mo
    4. Myrtle beach, sc
    5. Daytona beach, fl
    6 Detroit, mi
    7. Flint, mi
    8. Dallas, tx
    9. Cleveland, Ohio
    10.stockton, ca

    August 29th, 2013 9:45 pm

  64. Doug Mann

    One thought: You don’t really need to say “Personally, I think…” because if you’re saying it, we’ll just assume that it’s your opinion. Carry on!

    August 29th, 2013 10:09 pm

  65. Susie Hahn

    OMGosh. Total lack of pertinent data. Mr Shore….please go back east! Santa Rosa has so much to offer kids…Kthru12. Between all the Park & Rec or CYO, or programs thru the City of Santa Rosa, and you can’t drive a mile without running into a great park….and all the music programs and dance not to mention the sports programs offered by all Santa Rosa schools. I’d love to see an accurate poll taken.

    August 29th, 2013 11:23 pm

  66. Marsha Stafford

    I raused my kids in Sonoma County and I am so glad I did. I now live ib Hawaii and I would never send my kids to school in Hawaii. My children are smart and really good people and care about the earth and other people I feel the PC attitude of the Northern California think was a great part of their Mine set.

    August 30th, 2013 10:31 am

  67. Daily Commuter

    This poll has nothing to do with gangs or anything else you ppl are all flaming about. This has only to do with average income and cost of living (so you can live somewhere nice even though you make minimum wage) , commute time (so you can spent time with your kids and not in traffic), & OBGYNS???? Okay if you say that impacts a child’s life that much…. leave crime and gangs out of this. The bottom line is that Santa Rosa (despite me owning a home here) really does suck.

    I grew up here and lived here most of my life and it is common knowledge, if you want to live here and make a decent wage you either get a specialized job or you need to commute to Marin, East bay or SF. I now live in Fremont and wages… even for the guys in fast food are what most of my friends at Metronics and Hewlett Packard made 16-18 hr. Even my wife with a masters could never get a job paying over 60K annually. Even making 100K+ between the two of us the cost of daycare and the commute made it so we spent very little time with our children and that’s why I left and that’s what they are talking about.

    August 30th, 2013 4:25 pm

  68. micki

    If you’re White and wealthy, it’s a GREAT place to raise a child! But if you are the majority of people: nope, it’s not. This is not a kid friendly place. Kids don’t buy wine or go out to eat at an overpriced restaurant, or attend a recital at the new venue at Sonoma State, geared for those with the bucks and able to schmooze. Change these variables and maybe things will improve. Otherwise, if you’re working class, Hispanic, and have kids, it’s an up hill climb, and your kids will probably not be able to afford to go to college near home.

    September 1st, 2013 1:52 pm

  69. Melissa

    How does the number of OB/GYNs factor into raising a family? The only time the Dr. is needed is 1 day in the life of a child. Not only that, what if you give birth through a midwife, as is done at Kaiser. That point among other aspects of this this ranking system make it incredibly short sighted.

    September 2nd, 2013 12:53 pm

  70. Christie

    Santa Rosa started believing too much of its own hype a long time ago. It used to be a great place to raise a family. When my family moved there back in the 80′s, we did so because of the sense of community we found there, the high scores Santa Rosa received on its educational system and the priority the town seemed to place on family values. Somewhere along the way, Sonoma County became the new Marin, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I lived in Marin and left it because of its lack of community and the fact that too much emphasis was placed on financial status. Now, I see the same thing in Santa Rosa. Some of the surrounding small towns are still great places to raise a family and Santa Rosa would profit from taking a lesson from a town like Windsor, that has made family values and sense of community real priorities. And where, believe it or not, you can still find a decent house in a decent neighborhood at a decent price. Free family entertainment on the town green and a community that really listens to its residents. If I had a young family, that’s the direction I’d be heading.

    September 2nd, 2013 6:29 pm

  71. Melissa Popkin

    I have lived here most of my life and I wouldn’t move anywhere else. I have my child here and my extended family with lots of small kids. It’s nice to be in the country with a small town feel. Lots of healthy fresh produce, a large number of people are able to small or large gardens. So many of my friends raise chickens for eggs and goats for cheese and milk. We have access to local goods like organic milk, organically feed meat, cage free antibiotic free eggs and chicken. The people in Santa Rosa have an understanding of limited resources and try to be ECO friendly. The crime rate is low and the town is for the most part clean and safe. I base were I’m going to raise my child on safety, health, and a common life philosiphy with myself and my husband. This survey is absurd and don’t forget the great wine tasting and wonderful local food that we offer for anybody visiting from out of town. Don’t wipe Santa Rosa off of your list for a great place to raise a family.

    September 3rd, 2013 1:04 pm

  72. susy h

    I believe that I am able to speak to the issue of Santa Rosa, CA being in the worst places to raise a family category as I have lived here for over 40 years. It has changed from a decent middle class city to a retirement community, full of upper class white folks and the class that serves them. Yes there are a few middle class left but this will not last for long as there are no jobs and little educational opportunity. The politicians seem to be clueless and have not created a city where business is welcomed so in ten years you will not see businesses only hospitals and gas stations…goodbye home, it was nice while it lasted.

    September 6th, 2013 10:03 pm

  73. Joseph

    I have lived here my whole life and have watched santa rosa get worse, gangs crime, roads, schools,the only thing keeping me here is my mother when she passes away my family and I are gone. the city council is a joke, santa rosa is not small business friendly they try to suck every last dime of of you. you can have this toilet of a city.

    September 8th, 2013 1:58 am

  74. Ken

    As someone who grew up in Santa Rosa, I do have to agree that it is not the best place to “raise a child”. The public school system lacks appropriate supervision and diversity in learning styles.
    When it comes to the OBGYN ratio, that shouldn’t be influential on the city’s ranking. This has no impact on children, teens or young adults.
    It’s fair to say there’s worse towns all across America that are barely on the cusp of being a “City”. And since Santa Rosa wasn’t labeled a city until recently, of course we won’t have the same ratios as the top/developed city’s would.

    Lastly, there are SOOOOO many playgrounds around here. More than anywhere else I’ve been. Howarth park is massive and even has a train! I think it’s more appropriate to ask how many of those parents aren’t too lazy to take their kids there.

    September 11th, 2013 10:45 am

  75. div

    Agreed. Santa Rosa is a terrible place to raise children. For one, landlords generally have carte blanche to ignore tenant rights laws. Even those in place to protect tenants cut unscrupulous landlords breaks and deals; it is a form of croneyism. This place caters to a middle class mentality and all of it’s unfortunate trappings. And actually yes, Oakland is a better place to raise a child. (In the right area.)

    September 19th, 2013 12:22 am

  76. David Childress

    In 1998, my wife and I moved to Santa Rosa as our youngest entered her freshman year of high school. We interviewed the principals of every high school and allowed her to make the decision as to where she wanted to attend. She chose Maria Carillo in the northeastern part of the City.

    She enrolled in the Sonoma State University prep classes and when she graduated with honors, she had 4 units of university credit. She went on to Sacramento State for her Bachelor Degree and returned to Sonoma County where she finished her Masters degree at Sonoma State.

    Also in 1998, our son began his education at City College, San Francisco. On weekends, his passion was to come “home” to Santa Rosa where he and I kayaked on the beautiful Russian River and hiked the many trails in Annadel State Park, Mount Hood, Jack London State Park and other parks in the near area.

    Less than a 35 minute drive from Santa Rosa is the rugged Sonoma County coastline which is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful coastal areas in the world.

    Parks are abundant with plots ranging in size from a block to several acres; there is no lack of recreational areas for local residents. The Prince Memorial Greenway was completed in the early part of 2000 which linked Santa Rosa to Sebastopol, California along a paved biking and hiking trail.

    Regarding the “gang problem,” the writer has no idea what “gang problems” entail. One of the most violent gang cultures lies 135 miles to the east in the Central Valley communities of Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto and Sacramento.

    Santa Rosa is a pricey area in which to raise a family, however, so are every other city or town in close proximity to the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

    I couldn’t disagree more with the author of this report. For us, Sonoma County and Santa Rosa in particular, was the best move we could have made as a family. The community is diverse, the political environment quirky, yet refreshing and the climate is near paradise.

    In 2011, my wife received an offer of a full-time tenured professorship, so after 35 years, we left our beloved California which will always remain in our hearts.

    October 15th, 2013 7:52 pm

  77. Anna

    I can’t say how much I am not enjoying raising our two year old in Santa Rosa. We just moved here from Washington D.C. and I have never lived in a more unattractive, unsafe, unaffordable, un-family friendly town. East Coasters, stay where you are.

    December 4th, 2013 10:44 pm

  78. lise

    I moved to Santa Rosa two years ago for a job, and relatively low home prices. I feel as though I’ve entered a town that has absolutely no dignity. I see this community as not being interested in education, cultural events or anything important. So close to SF and Berkeley, but as far apart as can be. It’s own microcosm of really ignorant people. Maybe at one time it had a small town appeal, but it’s large now, and fairly povertous. I live near the Junior College and this area has an incredible number of homeless folks, many of whom are not exactly benign. I’ll be leaving soon, and the only good thing is that my home has increased in value. Thank goodness I won’t have to disclose the fact that my garbage cans are rummaged through routinely, and that I’ve had transients ask to rent rooms from me on two occasions while outside doing yardwork.

    December 10th, 2013 6:35 pm

  79. Blue Penguin

    I have lived in Santa Rosa all of my life and this survey is completely incorrect. It really just depends on what neighborhood you live in and the parks around here are nice. Also the school districts are actually not that bad. Maria Carrillo High School is actually a 9/10 on the school rank.

    June 10th, 2015 6:03 pm

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