Rounding out the top five were Ithaca, N.Y., with an overall score of 75.8; Bloomington-Normal, Ill., 74.5; and Champaign-Urbana, Ill., 72.4. Ithaca is home to Cornell University. Illinois State University is in Bloomington-Normal. And the University of Illinois is in Champaign-Urbana.
Are you seeing a trend here?
Almost every one of the cities on the top 20 list is home to a major university, including the Provo-Orem area, with tens of thousands of students at both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University, and Logan, which features Utah State University.
Clearly, the presence of a university as a major employer in a town bumped up cities in NerdWallet's rankings, based on the measures it chose to use. Some people would rather not live in such a city, because they don't like the "down side" of life in a college town. But I don't think that means the list should be ignored.
I went to college and lived for several years afterward in the small town of Brookings, S.D. South Dakota State University (home of the mighty Jackrabbits!) is one of the dominant employers in town, as well a major cultural force and both an attractor and generator of businesses. SDSU's presence makes Brookings a better place for families.
Thanks to SDSU, Brookings residents enjoy musical and theater events, athletic competitions and other activities that you wouldn't expect in a town of about 22,000 people. On the other hand, it gets really cold there in the wintertime. Really, really, really cold. I'm shivering just thinking about it.
But my point isn't that the only way to have good work-life balance is to live in one of the cities identified in the NerdWallet study, or to find a nice little college town in which to settle.
Rather, I think the lesson of the study is to consider how we choose where we're going to live, and to recognize that those decisions have consequences.
When you look at purchasing a home that's far from your office, don't forget the impact your commute time will have on your family life. Likewise, if you're considering a home that's closer to work but costs a lot more, think about the impact making that purchase will have on your family's lifestyle.
What's more important in your life is up to you and your family to decide. But it makes sense to approach such decisions with your eyes open, realizing that where you live — and how much time you have to spend getting back there at the end of each workday — can and will have an impact on your efforts to achieve work-life balance.
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