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Mpls, St. Paul two of best four cities for quality of life, study says

You're looking at two of America's top four quality of life cities, at least according to NerdWallet.
You're looking at two of America's top four quality of life cities, at least according to NerdWallet.

NerdWallet ranks Minneapolis and St. Paul as the third and fourth best cities in America, respectively, in terms of quality of life.

The cities ahead of us? Madison and Lincoln. Talk about a Midwestern bias!

See also:
Do Dayton, DFL deserve credit for MN's high rank in CNBC's Top States For Business?

NerdWallet's methodology is focused on income, affordability, health benefits, the strength of the local economy, and work-life balance. Here's how they quantified those areas for each of the country's 100 largest cities:

1. Mean weekly hours worked from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

2. Mean travel time to work from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

3. Median annual rent as percentage of median income from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

4. Percentage of population with health insurance coverage from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

5. Percentage of people with income below the poverty level from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

6. Unemployment rate of the metropolitan area from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And here's an interactive graph showing how Minneapolis and stacked up relative to the other top 10 cities overall:

We touched based with study author Sreekar Jasthi to get his perspective on why coastal cities were nowhere to be seen in NerdWallet's top 10 (in fairness, there were a handful in the 10-20 range).

"One of the factors that resulted in that particular trend is the cost of living," Sreekar told us, adding that this is the first time he's put together this particular study. "I think that factor really hurt some of the [coastal cities]."

"Another reason is the unemployment rate tends to be a little bit higher [on the coasts] compared to cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.," Sreekar continued. "Another factor is some of the much bigger cities -- New York City or San Francisco -- I think the commute time, the hours worked, those numbers tend to be higher in those cities as well."

We asked Sreekar if any of the data for Minneapolis or St. Paul jumped off the page at him.

"One thing in particular is the relatively low cost of living compared to some of the other cities on the list," he replied. "The annual rent as a percentage of income in Minneapolis was 21.6 percent, in St. Paul it was 22.9 percent, and that's lower than when we were looking at all these 100 biggest cities as a composite. The average was about 27 percent, so that's about 5 or 6 percent lower in St. Paul and Minneapolis, respectively."

"In addition to income and affordability, I think rates of health insurance coverage are much higher in Minneapolis and St. Paul than in the rest of the country on average, and also, the weekly hours worked is lower than the nationwide average in the Twin Cities," Sreekar continued. "I think all those factors really combined with the low unemployment rate."

To read what NerdWallet wrote about Minneapolis and St. Paul, click to page two.

 

3. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Workers in Minneapolis enjoy a healthy work-life balance, a relatively low cost of living and high rates of health coverage. The city also boasts a vibrant culture with a strong arts scene: Minneapolis is home to the second-highest number of live theaters per capita in the U.S. after New York City. The University of Minnesota, one of the largest public universities in the nation, is located in Minneapolis, which helps boost the local economy.

4. St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul offers the same attractive qualities to workers as Minneapolis, its twin city, scoring especially highly in the income, affordability and health insurance coverage factors. Outside of the office, people here can enjoy many cultural and outdoor amenities, including performing arts centers, parks and more. The city also boasts 26 miles of Mississippi riverfront, the most of any city on the river.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.




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