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Best Cities for Quality of Life: Go (Mid)West, Young Man (or Woman)

Midwestern cities dominate a new ranking of the country's best cities for quality of life.

| BY Donald Liebenson

Jack Benny, Warren Buffett, Johnny Carson Walt Disney Ernest Hemingway, Quincy Jones, Abraham Lincoln, Ray Kroc, David Letterman, Bob Newhart, Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, Mark Twain, and Oprah Winfrey.  What do these towering, iconic personalities have in common (and this is just a very small sampling)? They are all from the Midwest.

Between the extremes of both coasts, Midwesterners speak of a more grounded approach to life that enhances their quality of existence. Tracy Letts, the award-winning Chicago-based playwright of “August: Osage County,” remarked to an interviewer: “After the success of 'August,' there were people saying I should change my life. And maybe I should have bought a yacht and traveled the world instead of returning to Steppenwolf to act in and write plays. But I'm from the Midwest, and that's what we do: We go back to work."

Little wonder that Midwestern cities dominate NerdWallet’s recently released rankings of the top cities for quality of life. Six of the top 10 cities on the list are located in this region:

Madison, WI

Lincoln, NE

Minneapolis, MN

Omaha, NE

Buffalo, NY

Lexington-Fayette, KY

Lubbock, TX

Fort Wayne, IN

Fremont, CA

The NerdWallet study went looking for the cities that offered a better overall lifestyle than other places and that offered a safer, less-stressful haven. Hey examined income, affordability and health benefits, the local economy and the work-life balance.

What distinguishes the designated top five cities for quality of life? At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focusing on “improving the quality of life for all” is actually in its mission statement.

Lincoln, besides being home to the largest university in the state, boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates of any U.S. metropolitan city.

Minneapolis boasts a vibrant culture and is second only to New York City for the number of live theatres per capita in the U.S. St. Paul, its twin city can boast 26 miles of Mississippi riverfront, the most of any city on the river as well as hank scores for income, affordability and health insurance coverage.

Omaha workers, the report finds, “enjoy a work-life balance with a relatively low number of average weekly hours worked and short commutes.”

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.