As the past year has changed how we work, it has also changed where we work. This new era of productivity makes the case for healthier work-life balance and prioritizing quality of life along with career growth. Additionally, this fits in with the rise of skills-based hiring and productivity-based promoting which requires a degree of personal care and focus on healthier living.
In considering your next move, cities that encourage healthy and holistic living may be the best investment in your future. It’s important to evaluate the aspects of wellbeing that contribute to maximizing your next phase of life.
Using the One America Works City Selector Tool to look at happy, healthy, low-stress communities, the following cities scored highly in overall quality of life:
San Francisco, California
Salt Lake City, Utah
What Makes a Healthy City?
Although access to healthcare facilities is important, there is more to healthy living than this. Health researchers and experts have been increasingly paying attention to urban environments that encourage healthier lifestyles beyond the presence of hospitals and clinics. For example, WalletHub’s report on the healthiest cities in the US examined 174 communities and compared them using 43 metrics across four dimensions:
The World Health Organization defines a healthy city as “one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.”
Emma Boswell Dean, assistant professor at the University of Miami, said that, while a city's health care system is important, "there is growing evidence that other factors may be equally or even more important when choosing a city that will be good for your health.”
These might include walkability, access to public parks, good transportation options, and more. Even a strong sense of community can be good for your health, something that many folks have learned over the last year as the COVID-19 pandemic tried to weaken social ties and community connection.
Image Source: Downtown Detroit Partnership
Gallup’s Community Well-Being Index ranks cities based on their access to healthcare and basic human resources as well as indicators like economic stability, the built environment, and the social and community context of the area. Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index, notes, "You don't need a beach to have someone who encourages you to be healthy; you don't need a beach to learn new and interesting things; you don't need a beach to get to the dentist.”
Cultures of Wellness
The things that create the best cities for a quality of life are ones that prioritize ways to live a healthy lifestyle from a systemic, city-wide level. They create an environment that encourages a culture of wellness and self care so that, just by living there, you are likely to have healthier habits every day and be surrounded by others that are doing so, as well.
The list of top 10 cities for high quality of life generated by OAW’s City Selector Tool included communities scoring highly for “happiness” from a variety of sources. WalletHub’s Happiness Index is based on 31 key indicators of happiness, ranging from the depression rate to the income-growth rate to average leisure time spent per day. The MindBody Wellness index offers insight into US cities and their culture of wellness across multiple dimensions, going far beyond just being physically fit. “It’s about expressing one’s feelings, learning new things, seeking purpose and meaning in life, and feeling a sense of belonging in the community,”.
Growing Opportunities in Healthy Tech Hubs
Considering a growing body of research on human productivity, it is no coincidence that some of the healthiest cities in the US are also some of the most up-and-coming economic centers and tech hubs in the country. Healthy people are happy people and happy people are productive employees.
The American Fitness Index, which compares US cities based on holistic metrics of fitness, has consistently found that urban centers and metro areas with healthier people correlate with a high-skilled workforce and high wages.
Cities that are growing as hubs of innovation and tech industry growth recognize that personal and professional growth go hand in hand. Their local governments and institutions create the infrastructures and systems that allow for their residents to lead a healthy way of life. Consider some of the growing tech hubs below and how they are promoting health and wellness:
Denver: Denver’s green initiatives include everything from hybrid taxis and a “Green Fleet” program to fill the city with environmentally cleaner vehicles.
Atlanta: The Atlanta Healthy Start Initiative prioritizes funding of maternal and newborn health while United Way Atlanta’s School Based Mental Health Initiative promotes accessible mental health support in schools. The city’s focus on encouraging healthy behaviors from the very beginning of life helps create the foundation for a future of healthy living habits.
Raleigh: In Raleigh, considered the HIIT capital of the US, 76% of residents exercise at least once a week and 58% get beauty and grooming services four times a year or more, creating a culture of self care.
Are you looking for the best place to move for the next phase of your life? Do you want to optimize your career and your personal growth?
The good news is, there are cities across America to which smart companies are expanding with people just like you investing their talent while they enjoy the vibrancy, space, and affordability that these cities can offer. You just need to know where to look — and One America Works can help.
One America Works is a vision of the future where high-growth technology companies find the talent they need to grow and succeed in cities across America. Rather than bottlenecking the tech boom’s economic opportunity in just a few markets and imbalancing the nationwide talent pool, we believe the key to America’s economic future lies in diversifying its opportunities. By bringing investment and innovation to these communities, more people in more places will have access to the careers of the future and help contribute to the shared success of our economy.