The 10 Best And Worst Cities For Work-Life Balance
A report compiled by personal finance site NerdWallet took a look at the weekly hours worked by full-time, year-round workers in the 536 largest cities across the country, along with commute time, income, and cost of living to determine the cities that offer employees the best and worst chance at healthy work-life balance. To determine each city’s score, NerdWallet used data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.
Last month Forbes took a look at the jobs and companies that are providing employees great work-life balance, exploring jobs as varied as SEO Specialist and lifeguard, at companies ranging from Wegmans to Google GOOGL -0.47%. But where should workers considering a relocation seek career opportunities and the chance at a thriving personal life?
A report released today by personal finance site NerdWallet took a look at the weekly hours worked by full-time, year-round workers in the 536 largest cities across the country, along with commute time, income, and cost of living to determine the cities that offer employees the best and worst chances at healthy work-life balance. To determine each city’s score, NerdWallet used data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.
NerdWallet analyst Divya Raghavan says the list favors cities with low costs of living, low competition for housing, and grounded economies.
“A lot of these places ended up being places with a low cost of living where there isn’t a huge demand for housing–places where you don’t have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet,” said Raghavan, adding that “they’re definitely places with more diverse economies. A lot of these cities have research companies, universities, and the health care industry.”
College town Bloomington, Indiana, tops the list. Home to Indiana University Bloomington, the city’s population has grown 33% since 1990. IU Bloomington is both the largest university in the state and the region’s top employer.
Next on the list is Provo, Utah, the city with the lowest mean weekly hours worked–30.9–of any city reviewed for the study. Brigham Young University, located in Provo, is one of the city’s largest employers. Number 3 on the list, Gainesville, Florida, is another city with a manageable workweek of 32.5 hours and a state university, the University of Florida, anchoring the economy.
At the other end of the spectrum, Dale CDP, Virginia, leads a California-dominated list of cities providing poor work-life balance. Six of the 10 cities at the bottom of this list hail from the Golden State, where long commutes and an elevated cost of living combine to create an environment less than conducive to negotiating between personal and professional.
New York, placing fifth from the bottom, is the one major metropolis to crack the list, a situation mostly due, according to Raghavan, to the lengths to which workers must go to afford life in the nation’s biggest cities.
“It’s the cost of living–big cities are places where it’s pretty normal for someone to work two jobs, especially if you make minimum wage,” said Raghavan. “And lower income workers tend to live outside the city.”
Ultimately, she says, the list provides a snapshot of the many places across the country where workers are finding successful balance among the competing factors of career, home life, and personal finance.
“You don’t necessarily have to be hustling in New York working 70 hours a week,” said Raghavan. “There are plenty of places to live where you can have a better work-life balance and still make enough to make ends meet.”
No. 1 Bloomington, Indiana
Mean weekly hours worked: 31.9
Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 15.2
Median earnings: $35,908
Median gross rent: $788
Source: Forbes magazine (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2014/08/05/the-best-and-worst-cities-for-work-life-balance/)