Balance is something everyone craves, and some cities make that balance easier to achieve than others. While big cities may be exciting, they may be better left as vacation destinations. High living expenses and long commutes can wear on residents. On the other hand, cities that strike a balance of easy access to the great outdoors and the culture of city living could bring harmony to your life.
Here are five cities to live in or visit if balance is a top priority.
1. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis, known as one of the Twin Cities with Saint Paul, is a hidden gem. Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for healthcare, Minneapolis has a high number of primary care providers and hospitals in relation to the population. Additionally, prices for goods and services within the city are 4% lower than the national average, helping reduce financial stress.
And while Minneapolis may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of outdoor recreation and culture, the city has many unique attractions. The nearby Chain of Lakes is a series of lakes surrounded by pedestrian paths—an ideal place for tranquility, running and biking, and activities with friends and family. The Guthrie Theater, located in downtown Minneapolis along the Mississippi River, is another landmark location if you’re interested in the performing arts.
And don’t worry about the Minnesota winters; the state has great resources for keeping its residents safe in the colder months.
2. Raleigh, NC
Whether you’re looking for good food, family-friendly activities, or outdoor recreation, Raleigh may be the place for you. Raleigh, along with nearby Durham and Chapel Hill, is part of the “Research Triangle,” named for the many universities located within the three cities. Likewise, numerous tech companies, including IBM, Lenovo, and Cisco, have offices in what is known as Research Triangle Park. This makes Raleigh a popular place for those seeking higher education or economic opportunities. And while the Triangle has had complaints about transportation and infrastructure in the past, municipal leaders are making strides to proactively address these issues going forward.
Raleigh is also home to many museums, including the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of History, and Marbles Kids Museum. Similarly, PNC Arena—a nearly 20,000-seat venue—hosts many sporting events, concert tours, and family shows. Raleigh is also surrounded by many charming towns with southern hospitality, Carolina barbeque, historic downtown areas, and parks galore. As an added bonus, the beach and mountains are both within a few hours’ drive.
3. Salt Lake City, UT
If you’re looking for balance, consider Salt Lake City. The job outlook is prosperous, commute times are less than the national average, and five national parks are within a three-hour drive. Likewise, nearby Park City is a great place for both winter and summer activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and biking, and is home to the Sundance Film Festival. Don’t let concerns about Utah’s homogenous culture dissuade you—Salt Lake is a remarkably diverse and inclusive city.
Salt Lake City is also well known for having “the greatest snow on earth” and hosting the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. However, you may not be aware that Salt Lake City is also one of the healthiest cities in the nation, with a growing number of farmers markets and increased access to recreational facilities. The job market in Utah is also booming, especially within the tech industry. The metropolitan area just south of Salt Lake City is known as “Silicon Slopes,” and it boasts some of the top cloud computing companies, along with numerous other tech startup companies.
4. Las Vegas, NV
When you think of Las Vegas, flashy shows and bright lights may be what first comes to mind. However, aside from the downtown attractions, Las Vegas may offer more than you realize. Just outside this bustling city lies the Red Rock Canyon, featuring many scenic hiking trails. Similarly, Lake Mead, one of the largest manmade lakes in the world, is just a short drive from Las Vegas with recreational activities, such as boating, paddle boarding, swimming, and camping. Many people who live around the city enjoy the warm climate and scenic desert landscape.
Nevada also has one of the lowest tax rates in the country, which could be another reason Las Vegas residents enjoy a balanced lifestyle. Any concerns about property security are easy to assuage, too, as home security can lower that risk significantly. So give this fourth-fittest US city a try.
5. San Antonio, TX
San Antonio is another great city when it comes to costs and work-life balance. Compared to other metro cities, San Antonio has a lower median home price than the national average, in addition to having slightly lower everyday expenses, such as food and healthcare.
The rich colonial heritage is felt through sites like the Alamo and other historic missions. The San Antonio River Walk is a popular walkway along the San Antonio River. Mexican food and Texas barbeque fill the food scene. The higher temperatures shouldn’t make you sweat, either—San Antonio has lower power rates than the state average, making it cheap and easy to stay safe and comfortable despite the desert heat.
Whether you’re looking for a place to visit or a place to live, consider these five cities to achieve greater balance and overall wellness.