What does a good life look like? Overworking most likely isn't part of the equation.

Researchers have figured out that feelings of emotional well-being rise with income, but only to the point of $75,000. After that point, happiness doesn't rise with more money. They've also determined that when people look back on their lives, the biggest regrets they have tend to involve their relationships. Specifically, people most regret not having, losing or having low quality social connections.

And after following 268 males from the Harvard classes of 1938 to 1940 for decades, psychiatrist George Vaillant concluded that love is the key to happiness. He found that even if a man had a successful career, made a lot of money, and had good health, without loving relationships he wouldn't be happy.

It follows then, that having the time to enjoy family and friends--living a balanced life--is a big part of living a good life. But some places tend to foster more work-life balance than others. That's according to research conducted by the consumer-facing personal finance website MagnifyMoney, which looked at several factors to determine where people are most likely to find balance. It compared seven measures in the 50 largest metropolitan areas of the U.S., looking at:

  • Average commute times
  • How much of their incomes residents spend on housing
  • How many hours people work compared to how much they earn
  • Local income inequality
  • How many people are in very good or excellent health
  • Whether they get enough sleep at night
  • How local prices for typical consumer goods and services (excluding housing) compare with the national average

When the numbers were crunched, these cities were the places where people enjoyed the most balanced lifestyles:

1. Grand Rapids, Mich.

2. Salt Lake City

3. Minneapolis

4. Raleigh, N.C.

5. Kansas City, Mo.

6. Columbus, Ohio

7. Portland, Ore.

8. Virginia Beach, Va.

9. Cincinnati

10. Harrisburg, Pa.

Conversely, people in these cities have the least balanced lifestyles:

50. New York

49. Miami

48. Philadelphia

47. Los Angeles

46. Tampa, Fla.

45. Detroit

44. New Orleans

43. Houston

42. Memphis, Tenn.

41. Chicago

Located in one of the top-ten cities, Portland-based online coding school Treehouse was recently featured by The Atlantic for its unorthodox focus on balance. It competes for talent with companies like Google and Facebook by having a four-day workweek, while providing full benefits and salaries to its employees. In the video, a treehouse employee talks about how he's able to participate more in childrearing because of having an extra day away from the office every week. And CEO Ryan Carson says the 18-year window parents have with their kids is a lot to do with his company's 32-hour work week. "No matter how much money I make or how powerful I get, I can't buy time," he says. "I don't have that long to spend with people and I'm not going to be at my [expletive] keyboard at 9 p.m. on a Friday night."

Published on: Mar 26, 2018