Forbes Lists Top Cities for Working Moms

A couple weeks ago, Forbes came out with their 2012 list of the best cities for working moms to live in. And apparently I’m living in the wrong state as Ohio has three cities in the top 10 with Cleveland at no. 7, Cincinnati at no. 4, and Columbus making the number one spot for working moms. And really, I wonder if I’m living on the wrong coast because the top 20 list is dominated by the Midwest, South, and East coast with San Jose, California the only West Coast city to make the list at no. 15.

The criteria for coming up with this top 20 list was centered around several factors. They knew that cost of living, healthcare, education, safety and childcare costs were at the forefront of moms abound. First they looked at the 50 biggest cities in the US, compared women’s incomes to the cost of living, looked at how many practicing doctors there were per 100,000 residents, how much government funding is used per student, crime rates, the average commute time and of course the average cost of childcare a year.

Childcare rates are always at the forefront of my mind as a working parent, so it wasn’t a surprise to me that this statistic was factored in. The majority of the metropolitan cities on this list are under $10,000 a year for childcare costs, while nine of them come in under $8,000 a year. This cost may seem like a lot to you, but to me, I’m green with jealousy.

You see, currently, my family is lucky because as I’m a teacher, we don’t have to pay for childcare year round, but if we did, we’d be spending about $11,000 a year in the city we live in Washington state and it would have nearly been $13,000 when Abby was an infant.  {It makes my heart flutter to actually see these numbers and think about how this amount could pay for a year of instate public college.}

My husband and I chose Abby’s new preschool without making the dollar amount an issue. Is there cheaper daycare/preschool options in our city? Yep. However, we sacrifice in other places of our lives because we don’t want to sacrifice on her education in these early learning years.  In thinking about how many families DON’T have the choice my husband and I are fortunate enough to have on childcare based on cost, I wonder how many of them in big cities settle on a less than stellar childcare situation because of how high quality childcare runs these days comparable to the cost of living. All these numbers just have me thinking about the pressures placed on working parents when it comes to monetary issues and choosing childcare.

NOTE: Click here to check out an interactive map CNN Money put together that shows the percentage of two-parent incomes being spent on childcare cost these days.

But for me, the most interesting factor that they surveyed was the average commute. It didn’t don on me that commute time would be judged, but then it made perfect sense to me.  It’s all about the time.

Forbes realized how precious time is for us as working moms. I mean, I’m no stranger to the complaints of my commute. And I’ve learned to deal with my one-way 45 minute average commute time because I love where I work, and the husband and I are taking steps to get out of our house and a bit closer to work for both of us. Still, though, every city in the top 20 has an average commute time of 25-30 minutes each way. I can’t help but be jealous of that thinking of all the things I’d do with 30 more minutes a day during the work week to use to get all the things done.

What are the most important aspects for you as a working mom? Are childcare costs and time spent away from your family at the top of your list in determining if you are living the best life you can in the city you reside? Do these things even matter to you?

Check out a more detailed breakdown of this list here to see all the other aspects that were measured, and scroll through to see if your city made the top 20 list.

Photo Credit: Flickr by rmolnar7


  • Observacious says:

    Ah, yes. Yet another list trying to convince me to move back to Pittsburgh.

    Commute time has always been important to me even when I didn’t have kids (or a husband). Part of why I live in the city rather than the suburbs is commuting time, which is funny since I technically work in a suburb but one just over the city border.

    Cost is of course another issue, but I’m willing to pay a premium to live where I want to live.

    That brings my last point: where I want to live. Wherever I live I am likely to work at a similar job. I’ll be in an office all day while my kids are in daycare and eventually school. During the weekdays it hardly matters where I live, so it comes down to evenings and weekends. It’s important to me to live in a vibrant neighborhood close to a variety of food and the arts. I like tree-lined streets. I like good public transportation. So even though it’s not on that list I like being a working mom in Chicago (even if the pressure of Pittsburgh repatriation keeps calling).
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    • Tracy says:

      I too agree that it’s important for me to be close to fun things that can be done on the weekends…That being said….I’m still kinda far from the big cities. Hence, why we are hoping to move closer to the hot spots within a year.
      Twitter: wa_tracy

    • Allison says:

      Ah, Pittsburgh – gotta love my adopted home town and not surprised to find it in the top 20. Flexible job options that are family-friendly and make accommodations for breastfeeding and understand that kids get sick … a lot … are all important to me. A wealth of employers who serve as trend-setters with job shares, flex time, good maternity leave policies, quality on-site childcare are very important to me. That and equal pay and good paternity leave policies that can give dad some time off as mom returns to work to ease the transition. And I think that city and state governments can and should reward these types of forward-thinking employers. After all, it makes their city more attractive to the stable, family-driven, home-buying wage-earners who make up a solid tax-base.

      • Tracy says:

        I dig your idea about state governments showing support somehow. I mean, happy workers equals more productivity and quality work…right? It’s a win win win situation if everyone where on board and looked at the bigger picture of supporting families. It really does come down to more of a systematic way people view family values.
        Twitter: wa_tracy

  • Mary Beth says:

    Certainly those things are important. Also – opportunities for a job with flex hours, family-friendly policies on things like leave, breastfeeding-friendly workplaces/communities, child-friendly community [i.e. lots of fun stuff to do!] are important to me as well.
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    • Tracy says:

      Agreed. Even working at a school, figuring out logistics for pumping while at work, was a bit difficult. My plan period aligned well with it, but now that I’m at a different, bigger school, where my choice in a plan period doesn’t come into play, I’m already thinking about how I need to communicate to my male dominated administration about such things, if and when we have another child. That should be a fun conversation :/
      Twitter: wa_tracy

  • Mary Beth says:

    Also I’d like to point out that if you’re spending ~10% of your household income on daycare, the fact that the mom may be earning as much as 9% less than an equally-qualified male counterpart becomes that much more striking. The personal is political, people!!!
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