In our yearly roundup of perfect places to raise kids, we salute these communities for their affordable homes, green spaces, blue-ribbon schools, and giving spirit.
By Seema Nayyar
Median Income: $69,759
Median Home Price: $177,000
Households with Children: 38%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 18:1
Great Schools Rating: 9
When Kristy Payne moved here from Southern California 16 years ago, it was mainly to be close to her older sister. "But once I arrived, it was love at first sight," she says. With abundant parks, miles of walking and jogging trails, and a lake teeming with bass and bluegill, this Oklahoma City suburb has plenty of scenic charm. That's no accident: Edmond offers free programs on preserving the environment, and sponsors an annual Arbor Day fair with seedling giveaways as well as arts and crafts for the kids. "Even Aaron, our 4-year-old, knows what it means to be green," says Kristy, 37, a real estate agent.
But what she and husband Randy, 41, a police officer and SWAT team member, appreciate most is Edmond's volunteer spirit. Their son Austin, 16, and daughter, Madison, 14, both pitch in at a nonprofit group that provides clothes and furniture to the needy. Kristy helps throw birthday parties for children living in shelters, and Randy takes part in the Shop with a Cop program, helping to solicit donations and then escorting underprivileged kids to Walmart so they can buy Christmas presents for themselves and their families. "There's a real need to give back among all the people here," says Kristy, who's also a foster mom to a 6-month-old girl. "Small-town life doesn't get any better than this."
Good Deeds: The three local high schools have raised nearly a million dollars for charity so far this year. Students at Edmond Memorial brought in $528,000 to help kids with cancer by selling brownies and bracelets.