List tabs Gilbert as No. 1; Chandler, Mesa in top 10 for working parents - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

List tabs Gilbert as No. 1; Chandler, Mesa in top 10 for working parents

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Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 11:00 am

A list compiled by a financial website and a business publication has listed three East Valley cities as among the nation’s best places for working families.

Nerdwallet — a site that analyzes areas like banking, real estate and other fiscal topics — and Business Insider compiled a list of the best cities in the United States for working parents to live.

The publications formed the list by ranking cities by four metrics weighted evenly, starting with the affordability to live there. The affordability is based on median income and other costs like real estate taxes, utilities and fuel costs.

Also evaluated were child care costs based on state averages, and the final two areas were the quality of a city’s schools based on metrics by the website GreatSchools.org and the number of households with children in the municipality.

The resulting list of 25 top cities featured five cities in Arizona, with Chandler and Mesa finishing in the top 10 and Gilbert placing first by a sizable margin.

“It’s another great feather in the cap of Gilbert,” said Gilbert Councilmember Jordan Ray.

Ray attributed the ranking to several factors, among them the town’s strong public safety reputation, the quality of the school districts that educate the town’s students, and jobs not too far from home. Mayor John Lewis, who said 70 percent of households in Gilbert have children, also mentioned the safety factor and added amenities like the parks and businesses like AZ Ice Gilbert that offer youth options.

“We have more to offer for quality of life,” Lewis said.

Chandler Councilmember Jack Sellers had a similar reaction to his city’s third-place listing, and said Chandler earned its rating due in part to relationships forged with local school districts and organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley. He added the rating also indicates city leadership is listening to requests made by residents to improve Chandler.

“It means a lot for the city; it’s nice to have something that tells you that we’re working and it’s right,” he said.

Interim Mesa Mayor Alex Finter, whose city rounded out Nerdwallet’s and Business Insider’s top 10, said the city’s placement on the list is due to factors like safety, the area school districts and things Mesa has done to make it more amenable to families. He mentioned a project that involved paving canal roads to make them more biker friendly and the addition of shade structures and lights to parks as examples.

The city also completed a revamp of Riverview Park earlier this year, all of which combined to improve Mesa’s quality of life.

“That’s what puts Mesa on this wonderful list,” he said.

The elected officials for the three municipalities said the benefits of making lists like this is the incentive it gives for residents and even businesses to add those cities as possible places to relocate.

Families doing research on where to move, for example, might find the list and consider it as a factor in their decision to make Mesa, Chandler or Gilbert their home.

“It will just add another look at Gilbert,” Lewis said.

The other two Arizona cities to make the list were Glendale and Scottsdale, which placed at 14 and 11, respectively.

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