After the financial crisis, New Yorker Mike Eklund decided it was time to change careers, from banking to financial planning, and hometowns. He and his wife, Kerri, scoped out midsize cities around the country for their growing family. Their search ended in Raleigh, North Carolina’s state capital and a top-ranked town for everything from launching a career to enjoying one’s golden years.
“It has everything we wanted: good schools, a reasonable cost of living, and it’s a great place to raise a family,” says Eklund, who has four daughters ages 2 to 10. Indeed, Raleigh has become a magnet for young families: The number of children between the ages of 5 and 14 grew more than 55% from 2000 to 2013, roughly 10 times the national average.
Meanwhile, the local economy is booming. Between 2010 and 2015, job growth in Wake County was a whopping 20%. Raleigh has a strong employment base of its own, anchored by government jobs, and many residents commute to nearby Research Triangle Park, home to more than 200 companies, including Cisco, IBM, and Fidelity.