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

·13 min read
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

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.

MariuszBlach / Getty Images
MariuszBlach / Getty Images

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

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

RyanJLane / Getty Images
RyanJLane / Getty Images

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

MichaelSvoboda / Getty Images
MichaelSvoboda / Getty Images

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

Kris Wiktor / Shutterstock.com
Kris Wiktor / Shutterstock.com

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

JackieNix / Getty Images
JackieNix / Getty Images

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

aceshot / Getty Images/iStockphoto
aceshot / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

ferrantraite / Getty Images
ferrantraite / Getty Images

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

RogersE / Getty Images/iStockphoto
RogersE / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

APN Photography / Shutterstock.com
APN Photography / Shutterstock.com

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

garytog / Getty Images/iStockphoto
garytog / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

zrfphoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto
zrfphoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Davel5957 / Getty Images
Davel5957 / Getty Images

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

Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

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

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

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

Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com
Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com

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

aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com
aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com

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

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

dszc / Getty Images
dszc / Getty Images

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

jimkruger / Getty Images
jimkruger / Getty Images

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

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

dreamyguy1 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
dreamyguy1 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

txking / Shutterstock.com
txking / Shutterstock.com

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

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

benkrut / Getty Images/iStockphoto
benkrut / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

csfotoimages / Getty Images
csfotoimages / Getty Images

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

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

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

SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto
SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Arpad Benedek / iStock.com
Arpad Benedek / iStock.com

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

Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock.com
Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock.com

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

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

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

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

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

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

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

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

AlbertPego / Getty Images
AlbertPego / Getty Images

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

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

EddieHernandezPhotography / Shutterstock.com
EddieHernandezPhotography / Shutterstock.com

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

CrackerClips / Getty Images/iStockphoto
CrackerClips / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

SeanPavonePhoto  / iStock.com
SeanPavonePhoto / iStock.com

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

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

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

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

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

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

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

Checubus / Shutterstock.com
Checubus / Shutterstock.com

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

Pgiam / Getty Images
Pgiam / Getty Images

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

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

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

ChrisBoswell / Getty Images/iStockphoto
ChrisBoswell / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Sergnt / Shutterstock.com
Sergnt / Shutterstock.com

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

Bill Chizek / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Bill Chizek / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

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

Tzido / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Tzido / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

More From GOBankingRates

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.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Best (and Worst) US Cities for Work-Life Balance

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