NerdWallet, a consumer advocacy website, ranked Bellingham ninth in the nation for best work-life balance. Their criteria? Average hours worked per week and average commute time were the biggest factors -at one-third each of the overall work-life balance score. Average earnings and average rent were each one-sixth of the score.
The study looked at 356 cities across the U.S. using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.
By weighing time spent working and commuting against average income and rent, the study produced a list of cities where people are not overworked but live comfortably, NerdWallet strategy associate Divya Rahhavan said.
“We didn’t want to get cities where people aren’t working that many hours but are struggling to make ends meet,” Raghavan said. “The cities have a low cost of living and can still offer a good quality of life.”
NerdWallet’s city with the best work-life balance score is Bloomington, Ind with a score of 79.40. Bellingham scored 73.82, slightly more than Kalamazoo, Mich., and the same as Eugene, Ore., and College Station, Texas.
Most cities in NerdWallet’s top ten have universities and ample healthcare workers.
“We have found university towns and towns with strong health care industries come up a lot on our lists,” Raghavan said. “Universities employ a ton of people and contribute to the quality of life by turning out an educated workforce.”
NerdWallet also ranked U.S. cities with the worst work-life balance, which is topped by the metro area of Dale, Va.
On average, the top 10 worst cities for work-life balance have higher average incomes than the top 10 best cities. But that difference is negated by higher cost of living, Raghavan said.
Bellingham’s work-life balance ranking may be good relative to other U.S. Cities, but the U.S. on the whole isn’t doing too well.
U.S. workers spend more time at work than their counterparts in most other countries. U.S. workers put it an average of 1,790 hours a year, which is almost 20 percent more than in France, where the average worker spends about 1,479 hours on the job, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
NerdWallet’s top ten cities for work-life balance:
Eau Claire, Wisc.
Iowa City, Iowa
Colege Station, Texas