Best Mental Health Software 2021

The Best Cities for Psychologist Work-Life Balance: Ranked from 1 to 100

The ability to find a healthy work-life balance is difficult for psychologists. In fact, the APA has found that this is the number one issue stressing practicing psychologists. To help inform this problem, we ranked the best cities for psychologists according to work-life balance.

Study Highlights:

  • 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 Power8th
Market Demand43rd
City Livability2nd
Work Culture2nd

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 Power11th
Market Demand33rd
City Livability11th
Work Culture48th

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 Power50th
Market Demand10th
City Livability38th
Work Culture4th

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 Power49th
Market Demand50th
City Livability49th
Work Culture1st

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 Power42nd
Market Demand37th
City Livability60th
Work Culture40th

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.

City Livability

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.

Work Culture

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 RankCityRelative Earnings PowerMarket DemandCity LivabilityWork Culture
1McAllen, TX82432
2El Paso, TX11113348
3Eau Claire, WI5038104
4Mankato, MN4950491
5Fort Collins, CO42603740
6Pensacola, FL65504023
7Kingston, NY291052618
8Janesville, WI10141537
9Visalia, CA27111334
10Des Moines, IA323252118
11Jacksonville, FL38329174
12Hanford, CA37159106
13Canton, OH21965448
14Clarksville, TN146526140
15Oshkosh, WI641959101
16Appleton, WI103192687
17Longview, TX551179118
18San Luis Obispo, CA41051354
19Ann Arbor, MI1111114106
20Evansville, IN477117109
21Lakeland, FL23585179
22North Port, FL10611146
23Tampa, FL1071924101
24Chambersburg, PA127159135
25Ogden, UT41863994
26Jefferson City, MO634120152
27Eugene, OR448610528
28Salem, OR435015831
29State College, PA15341434
30Killeen, TX110117152
31Lynchburg, VA130322078
32Lawrence, KS717111315
33Virginia Beach, VA821984109
34Santa Cruz, CA261366934
35Iowa City, IA112191479
36Bakersfield, CA61058179
37Columbus, OH872651135
38Columbia, SC811361223
39Lincoln, NE18864328
40Charlottesville, VA14041904
41Palm Bay, FL190262620
42Boise City, ID75616287
43San Diego, CA4550112118
44Akron, OH89714687
45Kalamazoo, MI661155944
46Leominster, MA356517748
47Columbia, MO91967423
48Terre Haute, IN521057468
49Duluth, MN561059640
50Winchester, VA774117737
51Kingsport, TN378611394
52Corpus Christi, TX132647140
53Scranton, PA739640109
54Santa Rosa, CA711520420
55Asheville, NC115657960
56Watertown-Fort Drum, NY301787918
57Parkersburg, WV241555983
58Yuba City, CA168659202
59Myrtle Beach, SC912719615
60Lawton, OK137601138
61Grand Junction, CO1515511353
62Reno, NV178667200
63Provo, UT7419181101
64Prescott, AZ16650594
65Milwaukee, WI511841556
66Omaha, NE1263210978
67Riverside, CA2213670118
68Stockton, CA1017148109
69Providence-Warwick, RI-MA541843143
70Augusta, GA2812754146
71Lubbock, TX1191614587
72Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY4013615220
73Sacramento, CA2013616340
74Fargo, ND-MN8832113146
75Las Vegas, NV796014987
76Dover, NH1161618960
77Cheyenne, WY536019687
78Yuma, AZ399616983
79Orlando, FL785098168
80Colorado Springs, CO727117668
81San Antonio, TX1216105164
82Flagstaff, AZ86163797
83Vallejo-Fairfield, CA519310064
84Green Bay, WI173863344
85Lafayette, LA964159203
86Boulder, CO194507431
87Charleston, SC187197294
88Raleigh, NC1341617378
89Staunton, VA1026205109
90Spokane, WA907191146
91Utica-Rome, NY2517811364
92Lexington, KY2023213124
93Barnstable Town, MA1841153011
94Missoula, MT1491273344
95Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI129155673
96Glens Falls, NY3671151185
97Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA13163133101
98Niles-Benton Harbor, MI1611275910
99Fresno, CA3413617474
100College Station, TX20432191

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:

  • Amenities
  • Cost of Living
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Weather

The specific data sets used in this study are below.


Data Sets Used in this Study
Bureau of Labor StatisticsOccupational Employment Statistics, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Bureau of Labor StatisticsCurrent Employment Statistics
AreaVibesLivability Score
GoogleGoogle Places
C2ERCost of Living Index
FBIFBI Uniform Crime Report
US Census Bureau2016 Census
US Census Bureau2016 Census
National Centers for Environmental InformationClimate 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.

Bruce Hogan

Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit. He leads the team's research and publishes content about software products and trends. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed technology companies, and launching new businesses. You can connect with Bruce on LinkedIn.

Bruce is an expert in several software categories including:

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