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Bellingham ranks high when it comes to balancing work and life

BELLINGHAM - A new study suggests Bellingham residents have it good when it comes to balancing work and play.

This area was ranked ninth highest in the nation in terms of maintaining a work-life balance, according to a study put together by NerdWallet. The finance website relied on 2012 U.S. Census data, focusing on four categories to create the ranking. According to the data, Bellingham residents worked an average of 33.4 hours a week, had an average work commute time of 17.5 minutes, paid $866 a month in rent and had average annual full-time earnings of $41,117.

That data gave Bellingham a score of 73.82, putting this area in the top 10 out of 536 cities studied. Topping the list was Bloomington, Ind. (79.40), followed by Provo, Utah (78.03), and Gainesville, Fla. (75.81). Bellingham was less than a point behind several cities, including Eugene, Ore., and College Station, Texas.

At the bottom of the list was the metro area of Dale, Va., along with six cities in California in the bottom 10. Those at the bottom of the list tend to have average commute times of around 40 minutes and residents that pay around $1,500 a month in rent.

Communities that have a university tend to do well in this and other economic studies, said Divya Raghavan, an analyst for NerdWallet. Those places that tend to have a lower cost of living did well, because it also meant that people didn't have to work extra hours to make ends meet, she said.

Among the top 10 cities, Bellingham did well in terms of commute time and average number of hours worked a week but had the highest monthly housing rental rate.

For this study, NerdWallet used data for the city of Bellingham rather than the Bellingham metro area, which is Whatcom County.

The website does a variety of studies and also has a cost of living comparison for different cities. For details, go to A link to the study itself can be found by clicking this link.