Number 8 Aliso Viejo is the only Orange County city to crack the top 10 in rankings of the best places in California for families, although Rancho Santa Margarita does finish in 11th place.
The "in-depth analysis" of 2015's Best & Worst Cities for California Families comes from the personal finance website WalletHub.com, whose crack staff compared 240 Golden State cities across 22 key metrics ranging from number of attractions to number of pediatricians per capita to the unemployment rate.
Aliso Viejo finished with a score of 71.96, compared to 77.91 by the best California city for families, Folsom. (Despite the blues at the prison Johnny Cash sang about, it is a pretty cool town these days.)
To arrive at the total score that has Aliso Viejo sandwiched between No. 7 Danville and No. 9 Palo Alto, the Orange County city was 60th in "life and fun rank," 25th in "health and safety rank," fifth in "affordability" and 29th in "socioeconomic environment rank."
In related but separate rankings that have San Ramon at No. 1, Aliso Viejo is fourth in highest median family income (adjusted for cost of living). Family income in San Ramon is three times higher than it is in Huntington Park, which occupies the 240th and last (meaning worst) spot on the overall best cities for families list.
Other Orange County cities (and their rankings) are: Yorba Linda (22), Lake Forest (29), Laguna Niguel (32), Mission Viejo (38), Irvine (41), Brea (53, in a tie with Rancho Cucamonga), San Clemente (55), Cypress (59), Newport Beach (66), Fountain Valley (71), Dana Point (94), Orange (98), Placentia (99), Huntington Beach (100), Buena Park (118), Tustin (126), Fullerton (129), San Juan Capistrano (138), Anaheim (142), La Habra (156), Garden Grove (158), Costa Mesa (162*), Santa Ana (186, in a tie with Rialto**), Westminster (195) and, where these rankings would lead one to believe is the worst place in OC for families, Stanton (199).
At least Stantonites have bragging rights over those folks down the road in No. 209 Long Beach.
Irvine makes the separate but related rankings for lowest violent-crime rate per capita, although it is surprising the city finished fifth considering it is always named America's safest city. By the way, the WalletHubbers claim it's 55 times more safe in No. 1 San Ramon than it is in the least-safe city, Oakland.
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Yorba Linda scores near the top in two other separate but related rankings by having the second lowest divorce rate in the state and finishing fifth in lowest percentage of families living below the poverty line.
*Having raised children in both cities, I find it hard to believe Costa Mesa finishes lower than No. 121 Fontana, although it was more than a quarter of a century ago the brood was in the I.E.