A new study from WalletHub ranks San Diego as the 8th best big city in the country in terms of quality of life. Los Angeles, by contrast, ranked 38th. But it’s not all sunshine and roses. In terms of local economy and taxes, San Diego ranks 30th out of 62 metro areas. The local economy and taxes category includes job prospects and average income levels, and the city’s high cost of living damaged the overall score despite scoring 3rd place in the country in terms of quality of life.
WalletHub based its rankings on four categories, each of which contributed 25 points for a maximum total score of 100. The categories are overall livability, quality of education, quality of healthcare services and general health, and finally taxes and the local economy. The No. 1 spot went to San Francisco with 71.56 points while San Diego racked up 65.48. The only other California to make the top 10, San Jose, scored slightly more than San Diego with 66.59 points. Detroit ranked the lowest at 62nd place with a mere 31.32 points.
Across the four categories, San Diego scored highest in overall livability with 3rd place nationally. In terms of health and healthcare, San Diego was ranked 6th in the nation, followed by 11th place in quality of education and 30th place in terms of economy and taxes.
WalletHub analyst and director of the study, Jill Gonzalez, said that San Diego scored low in the economy and taxes category because average incomes were not high enough to account for a relatively high cost of living. San Francisco ranked 17th in economy and taxes even though the cost of living there is higher thanks to higher average incomes. Most people who live in San Francisco can afford to do so, while that’s not so much the case in San Diego.
The rankings have irked some analysts, such as putting Bakersfield in the No. 1 spot for family activities and fun. Gonzalez said that Bakersfield scored the No. 1 spot thanks to the quality of its playgrounds, skate parks, parkland acreage and other recreational amenities compared to other cities in the county. But San Diego residents report that its beaches and many outdoor recreational activities should have put it on the top spot. Adding to the confusion, Oakland nearly made the top 10 with 60.24 points despite scoring 47th place in the overall livability index. Oakland scored 3rd place in the health and education indices, which helped put it in 11th place nationally.
The study was timed for release during the time of the year when many families and individuals are deciding whether to move to pursue a better job and a better quality of life. The best way for a city to improve its overall score is to improve mass transit systems and build more middle-income housing, according to Gonzalez.
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(all data current as of 5/27/2017)
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