25 US cities where housing is affordable, people work less, and there’s plenty to do

Where you live can affect your work-life balance.

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Where you live can affect your work-life balance.
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Smith Collection/Getty Images

  • Work-life balance can be hard to achieve, but it partly depends on where you live.
  • SmartAsset recently released a report ranking the 25 American cities with the best work-life balance.
  • Midwestern cities took the top three spots in the ranking.

Work-life balance is an equilibrium many chase forever, but it can be easier to achieve in some places than others.

SmartAsset recently released a report on the US cities with the best work-life balance. It looked at 10 metrics across the 100 biggest cities in the country using data from the US Census Bureau. This included concentrations of entertainment establishments, restaurants, and bars; the average weeks and hours worked per year; the unemployment and labor force participation rates; housing as a percentage of income; average commute time; and percentage of workers with a commute longer than one hour.

To determine the final list, SmartAsset then ranked each city in each metric and found each city’s average ranking. The unemployment ranking was given a double weight, while the average weeks worked and average hours worked were given a half weight.

According to its findings, Midwestern states have the best cities for work-life balance – they took the top three spots in the ranking. Only three coastal states, plus Hawaii, had cities that made the top 25.

See the top 25 cities for work-life balance below, ranked from worst to best.

We included housing affordability, shown as the median housing costs as a percent of income for the median full-time worker; average weeks worked per year; and entertainment density, which is the percent of all establishments dedicated to arts, entertainment, or recreation.


25. Seattle, Washington

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Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 28.4%

Average weeks worked per year: 39

Entertainment density: 1.8%


23 (TIE). Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Nick Lundgren/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 26.7%

Average weeks worked per year: 38.6

Entertainment density: 1.8%


23 (TIE). Austin, Texas

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 31.5%

Average weeks worked per year: 38.4

Entertainment density: 2%


21 (TIE). Raleigh, North Carolina

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 29.5%

Average weeks worked per year: 37.8

Entertainment density: 1.6%


21 (TIE). Louisville, Kentucky

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Leigh Trail/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 24.2%

Average weeks worked per year: 36.2

Entertainment density: 1.7%


20. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 22.9%

Average weeks worked per year: 35

Entertainment density: 1.7%


19. Scottsdale, Arizona

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Tim Roberts Photography/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 25.6%

Average weeks worked per year: 37.6

Entertainment density: 1.3%


18. Richmond, Virginia

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 27.8%

Average weeks worked per year: 33.4

Entertainment density: 1.8%


17. Durham, North Carolina

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 25.9%

Average weeks worked per year: 36.1

Entertainment density: 1.7%


16. St. Paul, Minnesota

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Tim Roberts Photography/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 29.3%

Average weeks worked per year: 36.5

Entertainment density: 1.8%


15. Honolulu, Hawaii

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Yoshinori Kumagai/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 37.4%

Average weeks worked per year: 37.5

Entertainment density: 1.2%


14. Wichita, Kansas

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 24.6%

Average weeks worked per year: 35.5

Entertainment density: 1.4%


13. Corpus Christi, Texas

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 27.9%

Average weeks worked per year: 34.7

Entertainment density: 1.3%


12. Cincinnati, Ohio

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 22.4%

Average weeks worked per year: 36

Entertainment density: 1.5%


11. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 24.4%

Average weeks worked per year: 32.3

Entertainment density: 1.6%


10. Nashville, Tennessee

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 31.1%

Average weeks worked per year: 38

Entertainment density: 4.4%


9. Reno, Nevada

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Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 27.9%

Average weeks worked per year: 37.8

Entertainment density: 2%


8. Columbus, Ohio

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Checubus/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 27.6%

Average weeks worked per year: 36.6

Entertainment density: 1.3%


7. Lubbock, Texas

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Redraiderengineer/Wikimedia Commons

Percent of income spent on housing: 30.3%

Average weeks worked per year: 34.3

Entertainment density: 1.2%


6. Lexington, Kentucky

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View_Point/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 25.8%

Average weeks worked per year: 36.4

Entertainment density: 1.9%


5. Boise, Idaho

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Charles Knowles/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 26.6%

Average weeks worked per year: 37.6

Entertainment density: 1.5%


4. Henderson, Nevada

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James Mattil/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 29.1%

Average weeks worked per year: 35.4

Entertainment density: 2.4%


3. Omaha, Nebraska

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Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 26.6%

Average weeks worked per year: 38.1

Entertainment density: 1.7%


2. Lincoln, Nebraska

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Steven Frame/Shutterstock

Percent of income spent on housing: 25.1%

Average weeks worked per year: 39.5

Entertainment density: 1.5%


1. Madison, Wisconsin

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Sean Pavone/Business Insider

Percent of income spent on housing: 27.7%

Average weeks worked per year: 37.1

Entertainment density: 2.2%