Location. Location. Location. House hunting requires a significant amount of business sense and self-reflection since our places of residence often help shape our professional and personal life experiences. We consider everything: our career opportunities, costs of living, expenses and cultural support for making a home in an area where we can also live out our personal interests. Some places in America are actually better than others in finding a balance between career, social and familial commitments. Check out some of our top picks for best work life balance cities.
San Francisco, California
Northern California has been iconic for its picturesque coastline and big city landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge. The two juxtaposed embody the spirit of work life balance, with natural parks and plenty of nightlife built into a bustling city bursting with job opportunities. Sunset magazine rated the city in the top spot for Best Place to Launch a Career with the tech industry shifting its way. Giants such as Salesforce, Twitter, Pinterest, Zynga, Dropbox and Yelp have all established headquarters in the city, with Google and Facebook expanding it branch offices nearby. Many of these companies also land in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list for 2014 which implies that employees are generally happier where they work and live.
San Francisco is also ranked among the top 5 vacation spots in America according to U.S. News & World Report so its recreational department must be doing something right. Its charm as the bohemian capital gives it an identity unmatched by almost any city. Of course as with any big city the argument of high costs of living is there but there are also ways to battle that. Easy public transportation allows residents and visitors alike to cut down on gas expenses and apply it to resources for family, friends or other recreational activities. With many free public areas to play residents can enjoy natural attractions on a budget. Its neighboring communities of San Jose, Palo Alto and Berkeley also rank consistently among the best places to live in the country.
Within the last five years there has been a lot of talk about California residents heading out to Colorado to start new lives because of the high costs of living. It’s almost obvious why the city is on our list of work life balance cities when you see skylines of Denver against snowcapped mountains. With more people moving to the Rocky Mountain region, local companies are able to expand and prosper and new cultural dynamics are influencing them. Employees are demanding a balance, companies are encouraging it and the economy is supporting it.
Ground Floor Media, a Denver-based PR agency is a perfect example of this movement in action. They use the term “work-life blend” and embrace the sometimes controversial flextime policies. Momentum is also in Denver’s favor with the forecast for 2014 showing continued economic expansion in Metro Denver. Best of all, the cost of living is incredibly reasonable compared to other cities and providing recreational activities is the state’s specialty. With traditional seasons and natural wonders all around there are plenty play-time opportunities nearby, plus some iconic sports teams boot.
Shifting to the East Coast, TIME recently honored this New England town as the best place to live in America in its Money section. It is perfectly situated on the map, surrounded by a wealth of good jobs in nearby Boston, Providence and Route 128 tech corridor. In fact, Boston is only a half hour away by train and is home to the best place to work in the country according to Glassdoor – Bain & Company. Sharon’s local is often credited for insulating residents from the worst recession and ignited quick recovery. That says a lot considering many cities are still struggling to get back near they were prior to the economic downturn.
In addition to job security the town’s schools attract families from all around which creates a healthy level of diversity. Sharon used to be considered a summertime resort and its history has been preserved well considering modern city sprawls. Nearly 40 percent of the area remains open space and nearby Lake Massapoag offers residents a local area to enjoy time with family and community members.
Durham, North Carolina
Livability released its official rankings of the best places to live for 2014 and Durham made it into the top five. The criteria of their study focused on small to mid-sized cities rather than the larger more recognized skylines and included consideration for where residents are able to take full advantage of a wide variety of amenities – from social wellness outlets such as parks and museums to different commuting options and health care.
According to its mayor, William Bell, the city has embraced its past and has remade itself as a research and technology hub in the last half century with more than 1 million square feet of adaptive reuse space.
The town has taken its old tobacco mills and transformed them into residential loft and office space – the American Tobacco Historic District – to maintain the character of the 19th- and 20th-century downtown while moving into a 21st-century economy.
Billed as "the medical city," Durham lives up to the reputation, scoring highly for health care based on its low spending and high number of hospitals. Not surprisingly, it also scores well in education, but it's not all serious in Durham. The town also gets high marks for its amenities like the Museum of Life and Science. Residents take advantage of the town's attractions, such as the Durham Performing Arts Center, one of the most-attended theaters in the United States.
Finding Your Balance
According to the experts these places are prime role models of the top work life balance cities, but we know there are many others out there that provide just as much for their residents. If it is difficult for you to find your city anywhere on the top lists, you may want to be the force that creates the equilibrium. Take control and crack the myths of work life balance: curb your long hours at work, find ways to incorporate fitness into your daily routine, and actively practice stress management tactics. Whatever works for you, make sure you commit to it and you’ll be happier in your career and personal life in the long run.