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The Best (and Worst) US Cities for Work-Life Balance

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The boundary between work and home life had already become hazy in the 21st century due to technological advances, particularly in the field of communications. Email, messaging apps, video calling and other platforms have provided access to most workers at all times. More people than ever saw these lines increasingly blurred over the last year as droves of workers moved their work communications online from their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even without these tools, long commutes and the pressure to work extended hours can have negative effects on your personal life.

Find Out: How Work-Life Balance Can Make You a Better Employee
More: 15 High-Paying Careers That Won’t Kill You

Among the physical and emotional costs of being married to work are fatigue, poor health and lost time with loved ones, according to the Mayo Clinic. In a 2018 work-life survey report, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management also determined that employees who enjoy workplace flexibility and participate in health and wellness programs are more likely to exceed performance standards. Thus, an environment that’s more conducive to work-life balance might result in healthier, more effective workers.

Reviewing this list might just help you take another step toward achieving work-life balance.

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Best US Cities for Work-Life Balance

If a low cost of living, short commute time and great amenities form your idea of the perfect place to live, the U.S. cities at the top of this list might be your cup of tea. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the places that made the cut have smaller populations compared to the worst cities for work-life balance. However, you’ll still see some big cities where you can make the most of your career and enjoy your personal life at the same time.

See: Best (and Worst) States for Work-Life Balance

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25. Greensboro, North Carolina

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 64.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.1%
  • Livability score: 66
  • Cost-of-living index: 83.8
  • Median household income: $48,964

Learn More: These Are the 50 Best Cities for Gen Z To Live Well on a Budget

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24. Portland, Oregon

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.8
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 26.5
  • Labor force participation rate: 70.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.8%
  • Livability score: 65
  • Cost-of-living index: 130.8
  • Median household income: $71,005

Check Out: 50 Cities With the Most Overpriced Homes

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23. Reno, Nevada

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.2
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 20.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 68.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Livability score: 69
  • Cost-of-living index: 116
  • Median household income: $58,790

Time To Move? How Far a $100,000 Salary Goes in America’s 50 Largest Cities

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22. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 22.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 64.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.8%
  • Livability score: 62
  • Cost-of-living index: 84.9
  • Median household income: $41,838
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21. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.7
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 24.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.8%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.6%
  • Livability score: 74
  • Cost-of-living index: 87.5
  • Median household income: $48,711
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20. Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 23.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 8%
  • Livability score: 68
  • Cost-of-living index: 84.6
  • Median household income: $40,640
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19. Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 19.5
  • Labor force participation rate: 71.8%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • Livability score: 63
  • Cost-of-living index: 118.9
  • Median household income: $60,676

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18. Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.3
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.5%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.5%
  • Livability score: 81
  • Cost-of-living index: 78.9
  • Median household income: $49,411
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17. Overland Park, Kansas

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 39.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 20.1
  • Labor force participation rate: 71.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 3%
  • Livability score: 85
  • Cost-of-living index: 111.2
  • Median household income: $86,487
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16. Richmond, Virginia

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.7
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21.8
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.9%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%
  • Livability score: 73
  • Cost-of-living index: 95.1
  • Median household income: $47,250
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15. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.1
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 64.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 8.4%
  • Livability score: 63
  • Cost-of-living index: 90.4
  • Median household income: $44,470
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14. Columbus, Ohio

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.2
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 22
  • Labor force participation rate: 70.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.5%
  • Livability score: 76
  • Cost-of-living index: 85.5
  • Median household income: $53,745
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13. Tucson, Arizona

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 36.8
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 22.5
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 7.8%
  • Livability score: 64
  • Cost-of-living index: 91.6
  • Median household income: $43,425

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12. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.6
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 19.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 70.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.3%
  • Livability score: 77
  • Cost-of-living index: 89.8
  • Median household income: $60,092
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11. Des Moines, Iowa

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 18.9
  • Labor force participation rate: 70.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.8%
  • Livability score: 77
  • Cost-of-living index: 81.2
  • Median household income: $53,525
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10. Lexington, Kentucky

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.8%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.1%
  • Livability score: 77
  • Cost-of-living index: 89.1
  • Median household income: $57,291
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9. Buffalo, New York

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 36.6
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21
  • Labor force participation rate: 59.9%
  • Unemployment rate: 7.1%
  • Livability score: 62
  • Cost-of-living index: 79.5
  • Median household income: $37,354
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8. Lubbock, Texas

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.2
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 16.6
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.7%
  • Livability score: 74
  • Cost-of-living index: 79.9
  • Median household income: $50,453
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7. Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.5
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 23.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 74.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.1%
  • Livability score: 65
  • Cost-of-living index: 106.5
  • Median household income: $62,583

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6. Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.2
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 19.1
  • Labor force participation rate: 68.8%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.3%
  • Livability score: 67
  • Cost-of-living index: 87.8
  • Median household income: $50,103
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5. St. Paul, Minnesota

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 36.9
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 24.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 70.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 5%
  • Livability score: 68
  • Cost-of-living index: 99.7
  • Median household income: $57,876
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4. Boise, Idaho

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.9
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 18.5
  • Labor force participation rate: 68.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.5%
  • Livability score: 82
  • Cost-of-living index: 103.6
  • Median household income: $60,035
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3. Tempe, Arizona

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 36.8
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21
  • Labor force participation rate: 69.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.1%
  • Livability score: 71
  • Cost-of-living index: 108.1
  • Median household income: $57,994
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2. Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 37.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 18.7
  • Labor force participation rate: 71.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Livability score: 81
  • Cost-of-living index: 89.8
  • Median household income: $57,746
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1. Madison, Wisconsin

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 36.7
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 19.6
  • Labor force participation rate: 72.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Livability score: 75
  • Cost-of-living index: 100.6
  • Median household income: $65,332

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Worst US Cities for Work-Life Balance

Places like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles may have reputations for being glitzy and glamorous, but when it comes to work-life balance, they all come up short. Horrific commute times and extraordinarily high living costs are common among the worst cities for work-life balance, and many also rank poorly in terms of livability. If you’re seeking a clear divide between work and your personal life, you’re better off avoiding these 25 cities.

Related: 11 Best Lucrative Side Hustles

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25. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 39.5
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 25.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.9%
  • Livability score: 67
  • Cost-of-living index: 93.5
  • Median household income: $54,701
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24. Fort Worth, Texas

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 27.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.5%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4%
  • Livability score: 81
  • Cost-of-living index: 99.8
  • Median household income: $62,187
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23. Anchorage, Alaska

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.5
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 18.9
  • Labor force participation rate: 72.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.7%
  • Livability score: 56
  • Cost-of-living index: 123.5
  • Median household income: $84,928
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22. Aurora, Colorado

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 39.5
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 29.5
  • Labor force participation rate: 71.9%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.6%
  • Livability score: 65
  • Cost-of-living index: 117.2
  • Median household income: $65,100
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21. Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 19.4
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.5%
  • Livability score: 74
  • Cost-of-living index: 83.1
  • Median household income: $56,333
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20. Scottsdale, Arizona

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.5
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 22.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 62.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.3%
  • Livability score: 77
  • Cost-of-living index: 133.2
  • Median household income: $88,213
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19. Los Angeles, California

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 32
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.3%
  • Livability score: 53
  • Cost-of-living index: 173.3
  • Median household income: $62,142
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18. Newark, New Jersey

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 36.8
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 35.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 11.3%
  • Livability score: 49
  • Cost-of-living index: 119.5
  • Median household income: $35,199
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17. Denver, Colorado

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 25.9
  • Labor force participation rate: 72.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.8%
  • Livability score: 59
  • Cost-of-living index: 128.7
  • Median household income: $68,592
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16. Stockton, California

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 31.1
  • Labor force participation rate: 59.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 8.8%
  • Livability score: 51
  • Cost-of-living index: 113.9
  • Median household income: $54,614
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15. Oakland, California

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 33.4
  • Labor force participation rate: 68.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.1%
  • Livability score: 51
  • Cost-of-living index: 174.4
  • Median household income: $73,692
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14. Houston, Texas

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.1
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 27.7
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.9%
  • Livability score: 73
  • Cost-of-living index: 96.5
  • Median household income: $52,338
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13. Atlanta, Georgia

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 27.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.4%
  • Livability score: 70
  • Cost-of-living index: 107.5
  • Median household income: $59,948
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12. Dallas, Texas

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 27.1
  • Labor force participation rate: 68.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.7%
  • Livability score: 73
  • Cost-of-living index: 101.6
  • Median household income: $52,580
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11. Norfolk, Virginia

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.7
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 21.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 69.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 7.6%
  • Livability score: 68
  • Cost-of-living index: 91.8
  • Median household income: $51,590
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10. Arlington, Virginia

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 41.9
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 29.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 78.9%
  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Livability score: 83
  • Cost-of-living index: 168.7
  • Median household income: $120,071
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9. Baltimore, Maryland

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.9
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 31.4
  • Labor force participation rate: 62%
  • Unemployment rate: 8.3%
  • Livability score: 57
  • Cost-of-living index: 88.2
  • Median household income: $50,379
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8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 38.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 33.6
  • Labor force participation rate: 61%
  • Unemployment rate: 9.2%
  • Livability score: 58
  • Cost-of-living index: 101.2
  • Median household income: $45,927
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7. Chicago, Illinois

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 39
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 35.1
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.9%
  • Unemployment rate: 8.1%
  • Livability score: 60
  • Cost-of-living index: 106.9
  • Median household income: $58,247
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6. Miami, Florida

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 39.3
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 29.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 62.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 6%
  • Livability score: 62
  • Cost-of-living index: 123.1
  • Median household income: $39,049
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5. Fayetteville, North Carolina

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.7
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 19.3
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.3%
  • Unemployment rate: 9.1%
  • Livability score: 59
  • Cost-of-living index: 80.9
  • Median household income: $45,024
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4. Jersey City, New Jersey

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 39.7
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 37.2
  • Labor force participation rate: 68.5%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.7%
  • Livability score: 64
  • Cost-of-living index: 146.8
  • Median household income: $70,752
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3. Washington, D.C.

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.3
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 30.8
  • Labor force participation rate: 70.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.9%
  • Livability score: 55
  • Cost-of-living index: 152.1
  • Median household income: $86,420
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2. San Francisco, California

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 40.4
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 33.8
  • Labor force participation rate: 71.1%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.2%
  • Livability score: 64
  • Cost-of-living index: 269.3
  • Median household income: $112,449
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1. New York City, New York

  • Average number of hours worked per week: 39
  • Mean travel time to work (in minutes): 41.5
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.3%
  • Livability score: 65
  • Cost-of-living index: 187.2
  • Median household income: $63,998

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John Csiszar contributed to the reporting for this article. 

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best and worst cities for work-life balance by analyzing the 111 U.S. cities with at least 100,000 workers 16 years and older along the following criteria: (1) average hours worked per week for workers 16 to 64, (2) mean travel time to work for workers 16 and over who did not work from home, (3) labor force participation rate, (4) unemployment rate and (5) median household income, all sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Suvey, as well as (6) livability score, sourced from AreaVibes and (7) cost of living index score, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places. Cities were then scored against each other on each factor and ranked based on their cumulative score. For the final ranking, average hours worked per week and mean travel time to work carried more weight than the other factors. All data was collected on and up to date as of May 20, 2021.