BOSTON, MA -- Which city in Massachusetts has the highest quality of life?
While that cliam may be open to debate, Newton, MA earned the top spot as the “least-stressed” city in the Commonwealth as the only MA city positioned in the Top 25 nationally in the 2016 Edition of “The Least-Stressed Cities in America” published by the financial advisory website SmartAsset (17th nationally).
How are the rankings compiled? SmartAsset considered a combination of both positive and negative factors and ranked them equally relative to each other. Positive factors included a high rate of physical activity, a high number of entertainment establishments per 1,000 businesses, and a high average number of hours of sleep per night. Negative factors included hours of work per week, length of commute to work in minutes, the unemployment rate, the bankruptcy rate, the ratio of housing costs to median income, and the divorce rate.
Which factors contributed most to Newton’s high score? On the positive side, the city scored well with a 57.5% physical activity rate (tied for 20th among the top 25); 20.4 entertainment establishments per 1,000 businesses (7th); and 6.95 hours of sleep per night (tied for 23rd). On the negative side (where a low score is best), Newton had a divorce rate of only 6.3% (3rd); an average work week of 38.2 hours (21st); and an average commute time of only 23.9 mins (25th).
“Great to see hard data underscoring what we already know: Newton is s a great place to live,” notes Jonathan Slater, President of Newton, MA-based Castles Luxury Properties. “Mix in the quality of the schools, the beauty of the homes and neighborhoods, and the city’s overall proximity to Boston, and it’s easy to see how real estate in Newton is so popular and housing values are so strong,” he adds.
The SmartAsset study reviewed 500 of the largest cities in America. The city with the best average ranking scored 100 (Boulder, CO), while the city with the worst average ranking scored zero, with the scores distributed evenly in between. Newton scored 87.62.
Rounding out the Top 5 after Boulder, CO were: Iowa City, IA (99.52); Deluth, MN (98.92); Madison, WI (98.6): and Eau Claire, WI (97.8).
Common among high scoring cities was that they are home to a major public university; Newton scores well in this department with Chestnut Hill-based Boston College.
Generally, SmartAsset found that Midwest cities tendered to be low-stress while Florida had many of the highest-stressed cities.