- The best overall city for psychologists' work-life balance is McAllen, Texas.
- California has 13 cities in the top 100, the highest for any state. Texas is second with 8.
- The cities with the top 10 annual salaries for psychologists have an average livability rank of 122, indicating that picking a city soley based on income is not likely to lead to work-life balance.
The 5 Best Cities for Psychologist Work-Life Balance
1. McAllen, Texas
According to publicly available data, McAllen, Texas is the best city for psychologists seeking to build a career and enjoy a great quality of life.
McAllen ranked second in both of our quality of life categories. The average employee in McAllen works roughly 30 hours per week. In terms of livability, McAllen's cost of living is 23% less expensive than the US average with a median home value of $117,500. The city offers lots of amenities and has school test scores that are 49% higher than the US average.
On the professional side, McAllen's psychologists earn a median annual salary of $72,500, which is almost three times the city's $25,700 median salary. Finally, psychologist job growth in McAllen has been consistent, increasing from 100 to 160 jobs between May 2015 and 2018. This is a good signal of continued demand for this occupation in McAllen.
|Psychologist Relative Earning Power||8th|
2. El Paso, Texas
El Paso came is the second ranked city for psychologist work-life balance. It is also the largest city by population in the top 5. For psychologists, El Paso has a great balance of earning power, livability and market demand.
Psychologists earn a median annual salary of $73,820 in El Paso, which is 2.6 times the city's overall median salary of $28,270. El Paso ranks 11th overall in terms of livability, with high scores in amenities, cost of living, schools, and weather. El Paso's school test scores are 54% higher than the US average, and its residents enjoy sunny weather year-round. Finally, the number of employed psychologists in El Paso has grown from 70 to 110 from 2015 to 2018, indicating a healthy level of demand for psychologists.
|Psychologist Relative Earning Power||11th|
3. Eau Claire, Wisconson
The number three overall city for psychologist work-life balance is Eau Claire, Wisconson. Eu Claire scored highest for work culture (4th) and market demand (10th).
The average person who lives in Eau Claire works roughly 30 hours per week, which leaves plenty of time for enjoying the city's amenities. In terms of market demand, the city's number of employed psychologists has grown by an average of 29% each year from 2015 to 2018. This is a great indicator of opportunity for psychologists considering relocating to Eau Claire. In terms of livability, Eau Claire is strongest in the amenities category with many convenient restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and pharmacies; as well as unique attractions like Chaos Water Park, Action City, and Carson Park.
|Psychologist Relative Earning Power||50th|
4. Mankato, Minnesota
Mankato, Minnesota owns the fourth spot in our top 100 cities for psychologist work-life balance. Mankato is the smallest city in our top 5 with a population of 42,610; however, it also has the highest number of psychologists per capita at 33 per 10,000.
Mankato earned the top ranking in work culture, and ranked consistently across the other categories. In terms of relative earnings power, the median psychologist made $81,550 in 2018, 2.2 times the median salary for the city overall. The median annual wage for psychologists in Mankato grew an average of 14% from 2015 to 2018, which is a great indicator of growing demand for local psychologists. Overall, Mankato offers a healthy work-life balance with a dense psychology population and strong earnings potential.
|Psychologist Relative Earning Power||49th|
5. Fort Collins, Colorado
Number five on our list of best cities for psychologist work-life balance is Fort Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins scored very evenly across all work and life categories.
The median psychologist in Fort Collins earned $87,110 in 2018, the highest annual salary of all cities in the top five and number 27 overall. This annual salary is 2.2 times the median annual income across all jobs in Fort Collins. Market demand is Fort Collins strongest individual category – the city's number of employed psychologists has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 16% from 2015 to 2018. Psychologists benefit from higher absolute salaries in Fort Collins, but the cost of living in Fort Collins is 10% above the US average. For example, the median home value in Fort Collins is $285,400 (55% higher than the US average).
|Psychologist Relative Earning Power||42nd|
How We Calculated Work-Life Balance by City
When evaluating the best cities for psychologists, we intentionally included data correlated with both professional opportunity and quality of life.
We categorized this data into four categories: a psychologist's relative earning power, the market's demand for psychologists, the city's livability, and the city's work culture. The first two categories represent the professional opportunity for psychologists; the third and fourth quantify the quality of life for the city's residents.
To keep the balance even, the weighting between the first pair and second pair of metrics was 50/50. The exact weightings are: relative earnings power (30%), market demand (20%), city livability (30%), and work culture (20%).
Psychologist Relative Earning Power
Earning potential is a key factor for anyone deciding where to live. As a result, we analyzed data on the average annual salary for psychologists in each of our cities. However, not all cities have the same cost of living. To more accurately measure the earning power of psychologists in a city relative to that city's cost of living, we also included data on the city's overall annual salary. We believe that the ideal city for a psychologist is one where they earn a premium for their employment.
Market Demand for Psychologists
It is difficult to measure market demand in a city for a given service. To accomplish this, other analyses often rely on location quotients, which is calculated by comparing the proportion of a given occupation in a specific area to the national average. While this could signal market demand, it could also signal an overabundance of supply. To measure market demand in this study, we chose to include longitudinal data on psychologist employment count. If a city had consistent, strong growth in the number of psychologists employed, we interpreted this as strong market demand. We believe this is a critical factor for psychologists deciding whether or not to move to a new city, and a signal of job security for those already in the market.
When determining the best city to live, it is important to consider factors outside of professional opportunity. To ensure that our best cities for psychologists had plenty to offer for their personal lives and families, we included city livability as a major category. Our city livablity scores were provided by AreaVibes, which analyzes each city's amenities, cost of living, crime, education system, employment, housing, and weather.
Even if you have a solid income and reside in a city with high livability, you still need time away from work to enjoy it. Therefore, we've included data on the work culture of each city. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes data on the number of average hours worked per person per month for all major cities. Cities with a lower number of average hours worked ranked higher in our study.
The Best Cities for Psychologist Work-Life Balance: Ranked from 1 to 100
Below you will find the top 100 cities for psychologist work-life balance ranked from 1 to 100.
|Overall Rank||City||Relative Earnings Power||Market Demand||City Livability||Work Culture|
|2||El Paso, TX||11||11||33||48|
|3||Eau Claire, WI||50||38||10||4|
|5||Fort Collins, CO||42||60||37||40|
|10||Des Moines, IA||32||32||52||118|
|18||San Luis Obispo, CA||4||105||135||4|
|19||Ann Arbor, MI||111||11||14||106|
|22||North Port, FL||106||1||1||146|
|26||Jefferson City, MO||63||41||20||152|
|29||State College, PA||153||41||4||34|
|33||Virginia Beach, VA||82||19||84||109|
|34||Santa Cruz, CA||26||136||69||34|
|35||Iowa City, IA||112||19||147||9|
|41||Palm Bay, FL||190||26||26||20|
|42||Boise City, ID||75||6||162||87|
|43||San Diego, CA||45||50||112||118|
|48||Terre Haute, IN||52||105||74||68|
|52||Corpus Christi, TX||132||6||47||140|
|54||Santa Rosa, CA||7||115||204||20|
|56||Watertown-Fort Drum, NY||30||178||79||18|
|58||Yuba City, CA||16||86||59||202|
|59||Myrtle Beach, SC||9||127||196||15|
|61||Grand Junction, CO||15||155||113||53|
|72||Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY||40||136||152||20|
|75||Las Vegas, NV||79||60||149||87|
|80||Colorado Springs, CO||72||71||176||68|
|81||San Antonio, TX||121||6||105||164|
|84||Green Bay, WI||173||86||33||44|
|93||Barnstable Town, MA||184||115||30||11|
|95||Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI||129||155||67||3|
|96||Glens Falls, NY||36||71||151||185|
|97||Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||13||163||133||101|
|98||Niles-Benton Harbor, MI||161||127||59||10|
|100||College Station, TX||204||3||2||191|
Methodology & Study Limitations
In order to conduct our analysis, we gathered publicly available data from sources such as the The Bureau of Labor Statistics and AreaVibes. To calculate psychologist relative earnings power, we compared the median annual salary of psychologists with the median overall salary for employees in each city. Psychologist market demand rank was calculated using job growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We analyzed their Occupational Employment Statistics data set for each year from 2015 to 2018 for each city, and calculated each city's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in psychologists employed over those four years. To calculate the work culture of each city, we analyzed Current Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Livability data was sourced from AreaVibes, which itself analyzes 7 categories of data and dozens of data sets for each city. The categories AreaVibes considers are:
- Cost of Living
The specific data sets used in this study are below.
|Data Sets Used in this Study|
|Bureau of Labor Statistics||Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018|
|Bureau of Labor Statistics||Current Employment Statistics|
|C2ER||Cost of Living Index|
|FBI||FBI Uniform Crime Report|
|US Census Bureau||2016 Census|
|US Census Bureau||2016 Census|
|National Centers for Environmental Information||Climate Data Online|
We would like to clearly state that there are many caveats to be aware of in our analysis.
First, due to varying preferences, these findings are not applicable for all psychologists; for example, the location of relatives or climate preference could be critical factors for many. Complete data was available for 206 U.S. cities. Also, livability and market demand are difficult to calculate at a city level with publicly available data. In many cases, we had to rely on small sample sizes subject to high variance. While we did use spot-checks to confirm the accuracy of its data, we also do not have complete transparency into how AreaVibes calculates its livability score. Finally, the work hour data provided by the BLS is aggregated across all non-farm payroll and for a limited time range.