Dec 01, 2014

A Look at Some of the Best Cities for Work-Life Balance

Recent research indicates that a positive work-life balance is not solely dependent on the job title or job function. It turns out that where an individual lives can have an impact on work-life balance.

Finance site NerdWallet ranked 536 cities based on four main factors – the mean hours worked per week by an average worker, daily commute time, median earnings for full-time year-round workers, and median rent. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, people in the U.S. work an average of 1,790 hours per year.

A common theme emerged among the highest-ranked cities – a majority of the top ten are home to major colleges or universities. Typically, the cities with the best work-life balance have relatively low average incomes. The top ten cities on the list have an average income of $37,105, while the average income in the U.S. is $51,371. However, monthly rent in these cities is typically lower, averaging $776 per month.

10 Best Cities for Work-Life Balance by Score

10 Best Cities for Work-Life Balance by Score

Source: NerdWallet

Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington tops the ranking of the best cities for work-life balance. It has the lowest number of average weekly hours worked at 31.9 hours and a short average commute time.

The median earnings in Bloomington are $35,908 and median gross rent is $788. According to Lynn Coyne, president of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, being the home of Indiana University (also the top employer in the region), is a big reason that Bloomington is first on the list.

The campus community offers residents a variety of theater experiences, athletic events, and other community outreach programs.

“Our feedback from employers who have come and grown in this area emphasize that the ambiance and the quality of the work environment and living environment in Bloomington is a major force in keeping and attracting talented workers.” ~Lynn Coyne, President of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation.

Provo, Utah

Workers in Provo average 30.9 hour workweeks, the lowest among all 536 cities in the study.

The average commute time is 18 minutes, median earnings are $32,418, and median gross rent is $744. Brigham Young University, the third-largest private college by enrollment in the U.S., is the largest employer in the area. As of August 2014, total nonfarm employment in Provo has grown 2.8 percent year-over-year.

Gainesville, Florida

The average Gainesville worker works 32.5 hours a week. Major employers include University of Florida Health and the University of Florida, the eight-largest university in the United States.

The mean travel time to work is 16.5 minutes, median earnings are $35,099 and median gross rent is $851. The Gainesville Chamber of Commerce says that software and IT companies plan to create over 1,100 jobs in the area over the next three years.

The Worst Cities for Work-Life Balance

According to the list, the ten cities with the worst work-life balance have higher incomes for full-time workers, but higher monthly rents, lengthier commutes, and longer work hours.

Dale City CDP, Virginia was ranked the worst city for work-life balance with mean weekly hours worked of 39.1 and an average commute time of 40.5 minutes. Other cities with low rankings include Waldorf CDP, Maryland; Menifee, California; Tracy, California; Germantown CDP, Maryland; and New York City.

Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance

A survey by online career site Glassdoor revealed some of the best jobs for a positive work-life balance. Workers in the top five jobs said that their positions gave them the opportunity to have fun, work with co-workers they liked, and easily take time off when needed.

The best jobs included data scientists, SEO specialists, tour guides, lifeguards, social media managers, group fitness instructors, user experience designers, firefighters, equity traders, law clerks, investment analysts, game designers, real estate brokers, substitute teachers, and carpenters.

“Professionals with a healthy work-life balance tend to report higher satisfaction in their jobs. By maintaining a quality work-life balance, professionals are often motivated to work hard and be productive, helping to avoid burnout.” ~Scott Dobroski, Career Trends Analyst at Glassdoor

“A lot of these places ended up being places with 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. They’re definitely places with more diverse economies. A lot of these cities have research companies, universities, and the health care industry.” ~Divya Raghavan, Analyst at NerdWallet