City ranks 16th best place for families

SIERRA VISTA — Sierra Vista and its surrounding region are the 16th best place to raise a family in Arizona, offering affordable housing, a better education and a lower cost of living, an online financial services survey shows.

WalletHub.com compared 65 cities across the state in 21 different categories, measuring factors that have the most impact on Arizona families.

“Our data set ranges from median family income to school-system quality to housing affordability,” said Diana Popa, WalletHub communications manager.

The city ranked second in housing affordability and third for its high school graduation rate. While other comparison categories were outside of the top five, Sierra Vista consistently ranks in the top one-half in all of the measures for the 65 cities.

“It’s exciting to see that a national firm is confirming with data what we have known about Sierra Vista for a long time,” said Mary Jacobs, assistant city manager. “This ranking will only help Sierra Vista continue to attract employees and entrepreneurs to our little slice of heaven.”

Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley were the top three cities in the survey, scoring high in education, family safety and entertainment, and affordability.

There were some surprises at the bottom end of the list. A neighboring community, Douglas, finished 64 and Tucson was in the 62 spot among the 65 cities. Eloy was listed at the end of the “2017 Best Places to Raise A Family in Arizona” survey.

While Douglas scored high on the affordability scale with a low housing cost, the city also has among the highest percentage of families earning less than the federal poverty limit.

WalletHub reports that Sierra Vista has the 24th lowest divorce rate among Arizona cities, affecting about 25 percent of the city’s families. A high school graduation rate above 83 percent ranked third on the list of comparisons among the 65 cities.

Douglas reported the highest divorce rate and among the lowest median family income on the list of 65 cities.

Tucson’s ranking in violent crime contributed to its overall ranking on the 65-city list, Popa said. The city recorded low scores in education and family safety compared to other cities.

WalletHub put together a panel of experts to determine which categories to include in the overall measure, Popa said.

“We asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight regarding the process of evaluating prospective Arizona cities on a family’s shortlist,” Popa said.

The survey also compared Arizona to other states in several categories. The Grand Canyon State is the 11th most racially diverse. It also holds the record for having the largest share of its land designated for Indian reservations — about a quarter of the state — occupied by 22 federally recognized Native American nations.

If better earning, employment or entrepreneurial opportunities are your priority, Arizona’s economy beats out those of 34 states and earns high marks in categories measuring, among others, GDP growth, share of fast-growing firms and share of high-tech jobs.

By Eric Peterman
Sierra Vista Herald