I will plug the city I live in.
Eugene Oregon. Big enough to have a university, and a great CC. There are a couple of Xian colleges here too. There is a GREAT public transportation system, a fantastic bike path system and a great running trail. There are TWO club soccer orgs, tennis courts that are owned by the city, and are lit up at night. (free) There is "Birth to Three", the relief nursery, and the U of O's phd students that give no/low cost counseling. There is a GREAT parks and Rec dept. A fabulous outdoor pool for summer, complete with slides, and water park, AND an indoor one in the winter with slide and wave pool. The new library is beautiful beyond belief, and a joy to get to on public transportation.
Then the schools are not as great as they once were, BUT, still some of the best in the country. We have school options, language immersion (Spanish, french and Japanese) art immersion (magnet arts) we have a Waldorf based PUBLIC school, (family school) and across the river in Springfield there is a new arts and performances high school. The Eugene high schools have a international option, and the sports teams are well backed, but not the only thing that has money.
There is a Jr symphony, Jr orchestra, several performing arts groups, and a nice performance hall (Hult center)
To top it all off,
You are an hour away from the ski slopes, an hour away from the ocean, and surrounded by five lakes, all very good for waterskiing/wake boarding. There is even a natural water slide that is made of super smooth rocks, and moss.
There are two major malls, at least four REALLY good crunchy markets, the most crunchy being Sundance, we are getting a whole foods soon. And there is a Saturday market, with local artisans, and a Tuesday and Saturday farmers market. (quite large, about two full blocks worth of vender's) We are surrounded by farm land, and have MANY options for "local foods."
The bad part, the median home price in 230K, the rain, not so much the rain, but the gloomy days. Here, you go out and buy outdoor gear to stay outside. REI is the main fashion statement.
We make it comfortably on 55K a year. with a 1300sft home, a hybrid, a new truck, and an a new competition ski boat. When I was a single mom, I made it with an income of 14K a year,(no new cars or a boat) ALL of the parks and req, soccer clubs, sports, community things have sliding scale fees, scholarships. This is a REALLY nice place to raise kids, I went to school in LA. (CSLB) and lived in Orange county, so I understand the draw of warmth. For me, EUGENE is the ONLY place to raise a family. A healthy, active, in tune with the planet around you, family.