Cities with the Best Work-Life Balance

Last updated: April 17th, 2024

With so many Americans seeking a work-life balance, which cities offer the most ideal environments for flexible work and leisure time?

To find out, we conducted a comprehensive study to determine the best cities in America for work-life balance by analyzing a number of factors related to work intensity, health and wellness, income growth, and overall economic stability.

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Work-life balance is highly sought after but often elusive to achieve. Between tight deadlines, after-hours meetings, and the need to be “always on” the clock, technology and the demands of the modern workplace have made it increasingly difficult for workers to avoid feeling overworked and overwhelmed. By analyzing data from 170 of the most populated cities across the country, we identified the top 50 cities in America that provide the best opportunities for work-life balance.

Which cities have the best work-life balance?

From quiet quitting to “bare minimum Mondays,” workers across the country have been devising clever ways to reclaim their personal lives from being consumed by work. These trends are a result of many employees feeling overworked and undervalued in the workplace. While it’s impossible to pinpoint the cause of toxic or unhealthy work environments for all workers, we included broader factors related to work-life balance within this study. These factors include work intensity (commute, hours worked per week, and flexible work environments), health and wellness (reported poor mental health days among adults, access to mental health providers, health insurance, and physical inactivity outside of work) as well as income and economic stability (household income growth, poverty, and unemployment rates). If you’re looking for a city that provides a bit of everything in terms of work-life balance, look no further than Madison, Wisconsin. Madison is home to one of the shortest commutes in the nation (19.3 minutes) and ranks 7th for shortest average working hours per week (36.5 hours). In terms of health and wellness, 95.5% of workers in Madison have health insurance and the area maintains a ratio of 220:1 population to mental health providers. Right behind Madison at No. 2, Fort Collins, Colorado has a slightly shorter average commute at 19.1 minutes, which is considerably less than the national average of 26.4 minutes. According to the Census Bureau, two in ten workers who live in Fort Collins work remotely, offering flexibility and the freedom to enjoy the city’s 300 days of sunshine per year. No other state on our list has more cities ranked within the top 50 than California. Overall, the Golden State is home to 11 cities that rank high for work-life balance. Specifically, the San Diego area appears to be an ideal spot to find work-life balance, with San Diego (No. 16), Oceanside (No. 22) and Chula Vista (No. 36), and Escondido (No. 44) all making it to the top 50.

Top five cities with the best work-life balance

Work Intensity
    • Average commute time (minutes): 19.3
    • Percent with commutes longer than 60 minutes: 2.5%
    • Average hours worked per week: 36.5
    • Percent working 50 or more weeks per year: 62.0%
    • Percent of remote workers: 20.3%
Economic Stability
    • Unemployment rate: 3%
    • Poverty rate: 2.8%
    • Year-over-year household income growth: 9.48%
Health and Wellness
    • Percent of workers with health insurance: 95.5%
    • Number of poor mental health days per month: 4.4
    • Percent of adults who reported no physical activity outside of work: 16%
    • Ratio of population to mental health providers: 220:1
Work Intensity
    • Average commute time (minutes): 19.1
    • Percent with commutes longer than 60 minutes: 3.9%
    • Average hours worked per week: 35.9
    • Percent working 50 or more weeks per year: 57.5%
    • Percent of remote workers: 20.2%
Economic Stability
    • Unemployment rate: 3.2%
    • Poverty rate: 4.8%
    • Year-over-year household income growth: 8.50
Health and Wellness
    • Percent of workers with health insurance: 94.1%
    • Number of poor mental health days per month: 4.8
    • Percent of adults who reported no physical activity outside of work: 14%
    • Ratio of population to mental health providers: 230:1
Work Intensity
    • Average commute time (minutes): 22.1
    • Percent with commutes longer than 60 minutes: 4.7%
    • Average hours worked per week: 37.4
    • Percent working 50 or more weeks per year: 61.7%
    • Percent of remote workers: 24.4%
Economic Stability
    • Unemployment rate: 3.2%
    • Poverty rate: 4.3%
    • Year-over-year household income growth: 7.31
Health and Wellness
    • Percent of workers with health insurance: 93.7%
    • Number of poor mental health days per month: 4.3
    • Percent of adults who reported no physical activity outside of work: 16%
    • Ratio of population to mental health providers: 200:1
Work Intensity
    • Average commute time (minutes): 22.1
    • Percent with commutes longer than 60 minutes: 4.3%
    • Average hours worked per week: 38.6
    • Percent working 50 or more weeks per year: 67.0%
    • Percent of remote workers: 29.7%
Economic Stability
    • Unemployment rate: 4%
    • Poverty rate: 19%
    • Year-over-year household income growth: 8.79
Health and Wellness
    • Percent of workers with health insurance: 96.6%
    • Number of poor mental health days per month: 4.0
    • Percent of adults who reported no physical activity outside of work: 19%
    • Ratio of population to mental health providers: 240:1
Work Intensity
    • Average commute time (minutes): 19.4
    • Percent with commutes longer than 60 minutes: 3.7%
    • Average hours worked per week: 38.0
    • Percent working 50 or more weeks per year: 65.9%
    • Percent of remote workers: 17.2%
Economic Stability
    • Unemployment rate: 3.2%
    • Poverty rate: 4.3%
    • Year-over-year household income growth: 15.96
Health and Wellness
    • Percent of workers with health insurance: 92.4%
    • Number of poor mental health days per month: 4.3
    • Percent of adults who reported no physical activity outside of work: 17%
    • Ratio of population to mental health providers: 300:1
Elsewhere on our list, the Raleigh-Durham area has several cities that all rank within the top 15, including Raleigh (No. 6), Cary (No. 8), and Durham (No. 13). Known as a hub for startups, science, and technology firms, the area offers ideal conditions for achieving work-life balance. Only 2.9% of commuters in Raleigh have commutes lasting longer than 60 minutes, which is below the national average of 8.5%, according to the Census Bureau. In nearby Cary, 41.4% of workers conduct their work remotely, which is considerably higher than the national average of 15.2%. All three cities have also experienced strong year-over-year household income growth. Whether you’re already running a business or thinking about starting a business, it’s incredibly important for small business owners to maintain a healthy work-life balance for their employees. Creating a work environment that gives employees flexibility such as hybrid or remote work options, as well as offering PTO, health insurance plans, and mental health days, can not only boost morale but also enhance productivity and build a stronger workplace.

Methodology

To determine our ranking, we analyzed key factors related to work-life balance in the most populated 170 cities across the country. The study focuses on three broad categories including work intensity, health and wellness, as well as income and economic stability. This data was then analyzed for each factor and a weighted average was calculated to generate a final score for each category. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2022, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) 2023, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Fair Use: Feel free to use this data and research with proper attribution linking to this study. Media Inquiries: For media inquiries, contact [email protected]

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