By Kevin O’Rourke
Many residents say that Germantown is a great place to live, but one website, Nerdwallet.com, recently ranked Germantown 531 out of 536 American cities in its ranking of the best cities for work-life balance.
Is that low ranking justified?
To compile the list Nerdwallet, looked at average weekly hours worked combined with mean commute time relative to income and cost of living. Nerdwallet factored in median earnings for full-time, year-round workers as well as median rent in each city to gauge how much people are earning on average.
When all the number crunching was done, Germantown ranked in the bottom five at 531, one below New York City. Two local towns that ranked lower were Dale City, Va., which was dead last at 536 and Waldorf, Md., which came in at 535. The California cities of Menifee and Tracy rounded out the bottom five.
According to the Nerdwallet report, the mean weekly hours-worked by Germantown residents is 40.2 hours per week, with a 36 minute and 30 second commute to work. Those numbers indicate that residents spend 41.3 hours per-week working or commuting to work, to earn median yearly earnings of $61,229 and pay $1,640 in median gross rent.
“I was surprised to learn that Germantown made the bottom five,” said Germantown resident Lesli Brown, “I have lived in a number of suburban or metropolitan areas that offer a far cry from the amenities that Germantown offers.” Brown said she has an eight mile commute to her office in Gaithersburg.
“Germantown is actually quite large, and because of its size it offers an array of shopping and dining options, entertainment and cultural events. If you are looking for a nightlife, you may need to go in to D.C., this is still the ‘burbs, but certainly less of the ‘burbs that it was 15 or 20 years ago,” she said.
Even residents with a longer commute find living in Germantown to be worth the extra time in traffic.
“Crunched numbers don't tell the whole story,” said Courtney Davenport, whose commute from her Germantown home to her office near the Verizon Center in downtown D.C. means two hours in the car each day. “My commute is about an hour, which is unpleasant, but that's the choice I made so my family can live in a good neighborhood with a smaller-town feel and still be near enough to work in the city. Living in an area that offers so many activities - state parks, walking trails, shopping, movies, and trips to the Smithsonian - is worth the extra commute time to me.”
Interestingly enough, last week the real estate blog MOVOTO.com ranked Montgomery County as one of the top 10 most desirable to live in in the country, saying, “The poverty here was low, most students graduate high school, and over 25 percent of those students go on to postgraduate degrees. So it’s expensive, yes, but you’re getting a lot of great perks and a great place to live for that price tag.” The county ranked eighth on the list, ahead of Frederick County, Md. which ranked ninth.
“If you live in Montgomery County anywhere you are going to have to deal with traffic,” said Shannon Flannery, with RE/MAX Realty Group, a real estate professional with experience selling homes in Germantown. “I think Germantown is a great city to commute from because there are so many arteries leading to Interstate 270, and Route 355, as well as back roads to River Road. Every community within Germantown has reasonably quick access to I270. Other cities further north or west don't have easy, quick access to I270. In many cases the infrastructure isn't really there to truly accommodate the amount of people who need to access I270 which causes back-ups and daily headaches.”
According to Flannery, potential home buyers are not going to put too much weight into this report. “The beauty is we have a metro system or the MARC train as alternatives. Plus, companies are becoming green and are allowing employees to work a few days a week from home, which means less time on the road and less cars on the road to add to the traffic.”
Come on Germantown, what are your thoughts? Is this report dead on or does the good in our surrounding community mitigate the hours spent on the roads? Is the work-life balance in Germantown among the worst in the country? Respond in the comments section below.