In addition to a great answer by jcmack, here is my very subjective list of things to consider when choosing where to live:
Avoid busy streets. To walk anywhere, you often have to cross the busy street, which is a risk factor for everyone, especially kids. Noise and air pollution are also important factors.
Close to work and school/preschool/daycare. Long everyday commute steals the time your family can spend together. Plus, the probability of the accident is proportional to the commute time in a car. Walking distance to school is great.
Avoid high violence areas. Most neighborhoods in the US are safe (low violence) by world standards. Just visit the area of interest during the day and night, and your instincts will tell you. When in doubt, check the official crime statistics (not the news, since the news sources tend to prefer frightening the readers).
Close to your family and friends. This is similar to what you mentioned in the question.
Close to good schools. But take the school rating systems with a large grain of salt. The ratings show a lot of variation (noise). Very large difference in ratings that are stable across time are more reliable, while the small ones are less reliable due to noise.
Close to public transportation. This is a safer travel choice for everyone, especially kids (compared to a car).
Close to where you like to spend time, especially the kids, or you and the kids together as a family. An excellent choice is within walking distance to nature, such as a park. Health benefits of spending time in nature are well-documented.