Zachary ranks 16th in best cities for families _lowres

Photo provided by Sharon Phillips -- Train depot in center of Zachary.

Zachary has been top-ranked once again in Nerdwallet’s “Best Louisiana Cities for Young Families in 2014” list.

San Francisco-based Nerdwallet, founded in 2009 by Tim Chen, is a personal finance website that helps consumers make money decisions regarding credit cards, banking, health insurance, investing, loans, mortgages, small business and more by crunching numbers, according to

For the “Best Louisiana Cities” list, data was crunched for 104 cities, towns and unincorporated communities, which the website calls census-designated places, in Louisiana, and only places with populations of 5,000 or more were analyzed, according to Nerdwallet.

The list ranks Zachary as 16th, down from its 2013 ranking of fifth.

Nerdwallet’s methodology considered home affordability, quality of education, prosperity and growth and family friendliness, according to a news release.

Data was taken from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey and took into account home affordability, which included 30 percent of the final score, and was calculated by averaging index scores for median home value and median selected monthly owner costs. The lower the costs, the higher the score.

Growth and prosperity make up 20 percent of the final score, and the two metrics involved were growth in family income and median family income, Nerdwallet said.

When measuring family friendliness, 30 percent of the final score, and to see if an area is a good one for families, Nerdwallet said it looked at the percentage of married couples with at least one child younger than 18 and the percentage of families in poverty with at least one child younger than 5.

The percentage of families with at least one child was 70 percent of the score, while the percentage of families in poverty was 30 percent of the score, according to Nerdwallet.

Zachary earned a Great Schools rank of nine out of 10, with a median home value of $188,200.

Only two other top 20 cities on the list were higher than Zachary’s median home value: the first-place city of Youngsville at $223,900 and 18th-ranked Belle Chasse, an unincorporated community, at $242,400.

Zachary’s median family income in 2013 was $72,914, and the list shows the city’s family income growth from 1999 to 2013 as 27.05 percent.

Nerdwallet reveals the percentage of Zachary families with children at only 26.50 percent, while Meraux, a CDP, ranked 11th with only 12.82 percent of its families having children. The village of St. George, ranked as a census-designated community, is ranked 14th and indicates that 19.20 percent of its families have children. Zachary earned an overall score of 59.49, while the No. 1-ranked Youngsville earned a score of 74.47.

Several unincorporated communities making the Nerdwallet list in 2014 were Gardere, 49; Brownsfield, 50; Old Jefferson, 28; and Shenandoah, 51.

Other notable cities making the list, some near Zachary, include Denham Springs, 43; Gonzales, 45; Baker, 82; Baton Rouge, 87; New Orleans, 103; and Marksville, 104.

Nerdwallet also revealed some trends of the Louisiana cities:

Top places are spread out. Nerdwallet said it usually finds the top cities are clustered around one or two metro areas, but its analysis of Louisiana found the 10 best cities located near bigger cities like Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles.

Small cities score big. All but two of the top 10 cities have populations over Louisiana’s median of 10,200.

Income is on the rise. Louisiana’s family income growth has passed many other states with an average increase of 37.3 percent since 1999.