The best cities for raising a family

By Robert Karl Skoglund | Jan 02, 2013

"The Best Cities For Raising A Family” is what the headline said. Below that we read that Grand Rapids doesn’t boast a lot of affluence with an average household income of $47,040. Here we have to define “affluence” because $47,000 is about twice the income that has maintained my high and handsome lifestyle in recent years. And without a mortgage payment we could even get by on about half of the pittance we now have.

“Quality of life” also seems to be a relative term. Some of the “incredible opportunities” one finds in Grand Rapids include excellent parks, golf courses, bike paths, skiing, clean lakes and rivers, a new YMCA and a Kroc Community Center. We learn that they also boast of excellent restaurants, breweries, travelling Broadway shows, smaller theaters, a popular arena and ballpark.

I don’t see anything in that list that would excite me unless someone were handing out free tickets to Shakespeare.

What does quality of life mean to you? Would you agree that being healthy in a place where you want to live is the most important thing of all? If you were pressed to define the ideal environment in which to raise a family wouldn’t you have to start with a comfortable old house with fields and woods out back where kids could climb trees and scar their shins on rusty machinery? Wouldn’t you want an old barn and a collection of out buildings that contain unidentifiable items that haven’t been used for 80 years? Some folks wouldn’t know what to do without a few dozen acres of standing timber out back and a portable mill because there’s always a roof to be repaired or someone is whining for new shelves or a bookcase. You’re really going to need that $47,000 if you buy planed pine boards at a store.

There can be no quality of life without cows. If you’ve ever lived with cow friends you would quickly find you can’t live without them. Without cows grazing in the assigned areas, your fields are soon overtaken by

Robert Karl Skoglund is a longtime local writer, speaker and radio personality in Knox County. He lives in St. George. His commentary will appear in The Courier-Gazette from time to time. Email him at He is online at

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