13 US cities where people have the most free time, the best health, and well-paying jobs

Mikhail Mokrushin/Strelka Institute/FlickrFinding a good work-life balance is easier is some places.
  • Having a balanced lifestyle with equal parts work and leisure has a lot to do with where you live.
  • Factors like the cost of housing, commute time, quality of health, and income vary from place to place.
  • New research from MagnifyMoney suggests the best cities for a balanced lifestyle have shorter average commutes and high marks for income equality, among other things.

While living in one of America’s major cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Miami may sound glamorous, it’s no secret the lifestyle can be difficult. Long work hours, tedious commutes, and a high cost of living can take a toll on residents.

The best places to live in the US are actually places you might not expect, according to new data from personal finance website MagnifyMoney.

The site compared the US’s top 50 metro areas, using a variety of indicators including average commute times, the cost of housing relative to income, the number of hours residents work in relation to how much they earn, the percentage of people in good health, and the cost of living compared to the national average.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top cities tended to have shorter average commutes and high marks for income equality. New York, which was dead-last in the rankings, scored abysmally on both those measures.

Here are the cities in the US where Americans live the most balanced lives:

13. Oklahoma City has the fourth-shortest average commute and the cost of housing is 21% lower than the national average.

Source: 2014 Oklahoma Cost of Living Report

12. St. Louis, Missouri, is ranked 3rd in terms of cost of goods and services. A cocktail at a club costs around $US8 and dinner out for two averages $US42.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Source: Expatistan

11. Austin, Texas, ranks 2nd for residents who get enough sleep. That’s a bit unsurprising since the city ranks highly in income relative to hours worked.

Source: MagnifyMoney

10. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is ranked No. 1 for income equality with a gini coefficient (a common measure of income inequality) of 41.6.

Source: MagnifyMoney

9. Cincinnati, Ohio, is ranked 2nd for the cost of goods and services, which is 8% lower in Cincinnati than the national average.

Source: MagnifyMoney

8. Virginia Beach, Virginia, ranks 4th for income equality and has an average commute time of 24 minutes.

Source: MagnifyMoney

7. Portland, Oregon, often referred to as the place “where young people go to retire,” ranks 3rd for residents getting enough sleep.

Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

Source: MagnifyMoney

6. Columbus, Ohio, ranks highly in a number of categories, including the 9th shortest commute time, the 6th cheapest goods and services, and the 10th healthiest citizens.

Source: MagnifyMoney

5. Kansas City, Missouri, has the 5th shortest commute time at 22.8 minutes and ranks highly for income equality as well.


Source: MagnifyMoney

4. Raleigh, North Carolina, has been drawing residents to the Research Triangle for years with its concentration of high-tech jobs, but that doesn’t mean residents are overworked. Raleigh ranks 3rd for healthiest citizens and 6th for best rested.

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Source: MagnifyMoney

3. Minneapolis, Minnesota, seems like a good place to live a long, healthy life. 58.6% of residents are in very good or excellent health and the city is ranked 5th for residents who get enough sleep.

James Kirkikis/Shutterstock

Source: MagnifyMoney

2. Salt Lake City, Utah, hits the mark in a number of areas, including commute time (3rd), income equality (2nd), income relative to hours worked (7th), and percentage of residents in very good or excellent health (5th).


Source: MagnifyMoney

1. Grand Rapids, Michigan, seems like a great place to settle down. Short commutes (21.8 minutes), cheap consumer goods (4.8% lower than national average), and cheap housing (18% of income) all add up to a high standard of living for residents.

Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock

Source: MagnifyMoney

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