If you crave work-life balance, then we’ve got important news for New Yorkers: Move to Grand Rapids, MI, and you’ll be a whole lot happier.
Those are the findings of new research by Magnify Money, a personal finance website, which compared the top 50 metros in the U.S. based on the length of residents’ commutes, how much sleep they get, the percentage of income spent on housing, and other factors that affect work-life balance.
It’s no big surprise, of course, that New York City came in dead last, with the longest average commute time (over 35 minutes) and 41% confessing to not getting enough shut-eye. They don’t call it the “city that never sleeps” for nothing!
The Big Apple is followed by Miami (which ranks at the top of the list for percentage of income spent on housing), Philadelphia, and Los Angeles (which ranks as having the fifth-worse commute, at over 30 minutes, which is actually not as bad as most Californians would guess).
The city with the best work-life balance, Grand Rapids, earned this honor by boasting a commute of under 22 minutes, housing costs that eat up only 18% of residents’ incomes, and 56% of its denizens reporting to be in “very good health.”
The second-best city for work-life balance was deemed to be Salt Lake City followed by another Michigan city, Minneapolis.
How Grand Rapids achieved work-life balance
Granted, anyone who’s ever set foot in New York, much less lived there, knows that “balance” isn’t what The City So Nice They Named It Twice is all about.
“Most people move to New York for the intensity or opportunities, not for the balance,” points out Kali McFadden, a senior research analyst at LendingTree. And that’s why many New Yorkers flock here but eventually flee.
“I’m actually a native New Yorker, and many, if not most, of the people I grew up with don’t live in the city anymore,” McFadden says.
So what does the modest, Midwestern city of Grand Rapids have going for it?
“Grand Rapids seems to be one of those medium or smaller cities that are really making quiet comebacks,” says McFadden. “If the economy flourishes—and it seems to be—plenty of people will go for the calm lifestyle and easy access to the American dream.”
“Perhaps Grand Rapids is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered,” adds real estate agent Cara Ameer. “The health care industry there is booming with an abundance of health care professionals—perhaps this also explains the healthy population—and it’s also a hotbed for craft breweries known as ‘The Beer City Ale Trail,’ which has more than 40 breweries that offer tastings and tours.”
And sure, the weather in Grand Rapids might not be all that great, but the upside is.
“This may have helped to keep property values in check versus warmer-weather states that continue to boom with housing prices that have really risen over the last few years, pushing affordability further away for a lot of people,” Ameer says. “Grand Rapids may be somewhat insulated from that, as it is a place people likely wouldn’t go out of their way to seek out, although people from Michigan looking for a more moderately priced and hip city may find themselves gravitating there.”
So, perhaps it’s time to pack your bags, New Yorkers. Here’s a full rundown of the best and worst places for work-life balance:
Best places for work-life balance
- Grand Rapids, MI
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Minneapolis, MN
- Raleigh, NC
- Kansas City, MO
- Columbus, OH
- Portland, OR
- Virginia Beach, VA
- Cincinnati, OH
- Harrisburg, PA
Worst places for work-life balance
- New York, NY
- Miami, FL
- Philadelphia, PA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Tampa, FL
- Detroit, MI
- New Orleans, LA
- Houston, TX
- Memphis, TN
- Chicago, IL
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