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Portland, Oregon VS. Seattle, Washington: What Makes Them Different?

Portland, Oregon VS. Seattle, Washington: What Makes Them Different?

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

Although 174 miles and a state line technically separate them, many people lump Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, together as Northwestern cities with similar traits and qualities. Many people who are drawn to one are also drawn to the other. However, while both cities have that unique Pacific Northwest vibe going on, they are headed in directions in terms of their economic, cultural and social development. Let’s take a closer look at how, and how people considering moving to one of these cities can decide between the two.

Livability Factors

Demographically, both cities are similar. With a population of about 725,000, Seattle has a 10 percent edge over Portland’s population of around 647,000. The average age, ethnic origins and other census statistics for these two cities don’t present any major differences either. However, while both cities have suburbs and are close to other major cities, Seattle has a large metropolitan area thanks to nearby cities such as Bellevue and Tacoma. By contrast, Portland feels much more suburban around its edges.

Both cities enjoy mostly moderate summer and winter temperatures. However, Seattle has better air quality and fewer toxic clean-up sites, while Portland enjoys better water quality.

Major Attractions

Seattle and Portland both have a lot to offer in terms of natural attractions, museums and other places to go. The downtown shopping scenes in both cities have plenty of local color, including Powell’s Books in Portland, and Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. Unsurprisingly, you can get great coffee in both cities, though Seattle is better known for it, and the beer, bar and restaurant scenes are vibrant and unique in both cities.

Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square is a great place to catch performances by Tibetan and Persian artists, for example, or even learn how to make your own terrarium. Seattle’s Pioneer Square bills itself as the city’s original neighborhood and is the starting point for many city tours, as well as the location of many festivals and concerts.

Although both cities are near the water, Seattle is located on Puget Sound’s Elliott Bay, and also touches Lake Union, Lake Washington and Green Lake. This gives locals and tourists an impressive array of water-related opportunities, from whale-watching cruises to leisurely afternoons on the nearest lake. In Portland, the Willamette River and Columbia River provide scenic views and a chance to live on or near the water.

For hikers and nature enthusiasts, Mt. Rainier, visible on clear days, is just 54 miles away outside Seattle. Meanwhile, Mt. Hood, 50 miles from Portland, is a great place to camp and enjoy the area’s woodlands. Mt. Rainier towers at 14,411 feet, rising above Mt. Hood’s 11,249 feet. However, Mt. Hood has many more ski resorts.

Economic Considerations

Seattle and Portland both serve as the hub for major companies and corporations. For instance, Seattle is home to Boeing, Amazon and Microsoft. Meanwhile, Portland is Nike’s hometown and welcomes start-ups and indie businesses, which have created a dynamic vibe in the city’s downtown area.

While both cities are growing, the concentration of higher-paying tech companies in Seattle — which recently became a major Amazon location — is reflected in the higher household median income of nearly $100,000 compared to Portland’s more modest $69,000. Both cities are attractive to millennials in tech, since many neighborhoods are walkable and have great public transportation systems. In fact, up to 45 percent of Seattle’s workers get to work by mass transit, biking or walking, or work from home. In Portland, that number is closer to 34 percent, but that is still more than twice the U.S. average of 15% (85 percent of Americans drive alone or carpool to work). This lifestyle tends to attract many younger workers to both cities.

Real Estate and Cost of Living

The cost of utilities and healthcare are relatively inexpensive in both cities, while transportation costs are among the highest in the nation. However, it’s the housing costs that drive Seattle’s high overall cost of living. The median home price in Portland is about $440,000 compared to $804,000 ins Seattle, with a greater availability of homes in Portland. Many predict that Seattle’s overall cost of living will increase dramatically as the area continues to attract new companies.

Social Considerations

Both cities have great qualities that continue to attract new residents and corporations. However, the choice between these two cities comes down to the type of lifestyle you’re looking for.

Neither of these cities is very formal, but Portland, famously proud to be “weird”, has a more laid-back vibe. Many online reviews state that Portland feels like the friendlier city of the two. Those who would rather be in the center of two other major cities would pick Seattle over Portland. Vancouver is just a three-hour drive away to the north, in British Columbia, Canada, and has the added glamor of being in another country; to the south, Portland’s laid-back vibe is another three-hour drive. Seattle has been associated with more of an East Coast pace, so transplants from large cities looking for a similar lifestyle may be happier here.

For up-and-coming millennials who prefer a professional environment, Seattle’s role as a major port and tech hub may be appealing. Although, predictions are that Generation Z, just now finishing high school and college, may prefer informal business styles. Portland has a more quirky, small-town feel, which natives and transplants to the city seem to enjoy, and which may appeal to this demographic more than others.

Nearly 62 percent of Seattle residents have a 4-year degree compared to 48 percent in Portland and 30 percent in the nation as a whole. Seattle also outperforms Portland in K-12 retention, test scores and other factors. On the other hand, Portland is known as a mecca for alternative lifestyles, so vegans, families who prefer organic produce or want to grow their own vegetable gardens might find kindred spirits in this large city with a hometown feel.

Portland has a more ingrained foodie culture, down-to-earth residents with a wide age spread, quality produce to feed its demanding consumers and easy commuting — if you are so inclined, you can bike everywhere and Portland has a reputedly more reliable public transit system. Long-time residents stay involved in the community, which is viewed as more accepting and gracious by visitors and residents alike. If you want access to modern metropolitan amenities and value a career-driven, sophisticated culture, Seattle might be the place to call home, with its greater diversity, burgeoning job market, and plenty of options for happy hours and weekend activities, especially for the city’s up and coming younger crowd. With its influx of transplants from all over the country, it may offer a wider social commentary than the somewhat insulated culture of Portland.

Ultimately, residents who’ve lived in both cities tend to agree that the choice of living in either city comes down to an individual definition of good living.

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Don’t Want To Leave Your Dog Behind On Your Next Trip? These 10 American Cities Are The Most Pet-Friendly In The United States, According To Yelp

Don’t Want To Leave Your Dog Behind On Your Next Trip? These 10 American Cities Are The Most Pet-Friendly In The United States, According To Yelp

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

There is no denying that traveling alongside a best friend can make the journey considerably more enjoyable. For some people, that choice companion may be a close buddy, sibling, or roommate. For others, there is no better travel pal than their lovable dog.

The issue you may face when traveling with a dog, however, is that not all destinations are particularly welcoming to four-legged friends. That’s not to say that such friendly destinations cannot be found. In fact, there are 10 especially dog-friendly U.S. cities that could provide the perfect adventure for you and your loved ones, including your canine companion.

In 2018, Yelp, a crowd-sourced review forum featuring a plethora of establishments across the U.S, compiled a nifty list of the top 10 most dog-friendly cities in America to help you pick the right destination for your next trip. These cities were evaluated based on a number of factors, including the number of dog-friendly hotels, beaches and restaurants, dog parks, and dog walkers within their city limits. Although located in 10 states that each possess a distinct culture, climate, and tourism scene, they share one trait in common: dogs are not only permitted, but also welcomed.

Trying to find a new city to explore with your furry best friend? Here are 10 ideal locations to consider, in no particular order:

1. Portland, Oregon

Yes, the City of Roses is known for being an eclectic hotbed of art, music, and outdoor recreation, but this green city is also happy to host dogs and their owners. Not only can you take your dog along when you enjoy food from one of the city’s dozens of food cars, but you can also bring your furry pal along for a drink — dogs are also permitted in bars. From there, you and your pet can hit the iconic Washington Park, which includes the Oregon Zoo, or shop around downtown.

2. Seattle, Washington

Like Portland in some ways, but also distinct, Seattle features 14 off-leash areas where dogs are free to roam. One of these areas is the beautiful 350-acre Magnuson Park, located on Sand Point along Lake Washington. Leashed pets are also welcome aboard Seattle Ferry Service’s Sunday Ice Cream Cruise, at the University Village Shopping Center, and at many other locations around the city.

3. West Hollywood, California

Further down along the West Coast, you will find your dog is also quite welcome in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Four-legged patrons are welcome at numerous hotels, such as the London West Hollywood and Le Parc Suite Hotel. You can also take them along when you hit up the neighborhood’s hot dining scene, including Otus Thai Kitchen & Coffee, Smith & Tait, and Le Petit Four.

4. Phoenix, Arizona

If you and your canine compatriot are hoping to get a tan, head to the sprawling, sun-soaked metropolis of Phoenix. Fortunately, pets are welcome inside at plenty of establishments. You can enjoy a pint and catch NFL games with your pup at Keegan’s or grab an iced latte and gourmet sandwich at Breadcrafters. If you want to catch some sun, head to Echo Mountain Off Leash Arena at Grovers Basin or take a hike up Shaw Butte.

5. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Also located within the spacious southwest, Colorado has a reputation for its wilderness. If you like hiking with your dog, this is the place for you. You can travel together along select trails throughout the Cheyenne Mountain State Park or visit the Broadmoor Seven Falls. The 10-acre Bear Creek Dog Park is also 100 percent dog-friendly.

6. Dallas, Texas

Dallas is more than a burgeoning cultural and commercial hub, but with good food, exciting attractions, and high energy, it’s a city both you and your dog can enjoy. The city offers plenty of outdoor spaces where dogs can have fun, including the NorthBark Dog Park and the White Rock Lake Dog Park at Mockingbird Point Park. Many dining establishments throughout the city also feature open-air terraces and patios where you and your pal can consume a variety of cuisines, from New American fare and Tex-Mex to Cajun and Bavarian.

7. Tampa, Florida

If you have a coastal destination in mind, consider taking a trip to Tampa, where dogs can wade in the ocean and run on the sand at Picnic Island Beach Dog Park and Davis Island Dog Beach. Get a bite to eat at Sail Pavilion, an open-air waterfront retreat along the Tampa Riverwalk that provides stainless-steel dog water dishes, doggy treats, and even a dog menu with smoothies.

8. Arlington, Virginia

If you want to be close enough to the nation’s capital to visit historical landmarks, monuments and other attractions, Arlington is a good fit that still offers eight county dog parks and other dog-friendly establishments. Pick up some traditional pub fare at Whitlow’s, a dog-friendly neighborhood bar, or try New Zealand cuisine at the cozy Cassatt’s Cafe cozy, which offers outdoor tables.

9. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Known for their Midwest hospitality, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul are home to plenty of orchards, breweries, parks, and farmers’ markets that you can savor alongside your furry friend. Take in lunch at the dog-friendly Wilde Roast Café, with an updated Victorian feel and 1900s-era fireplace, or relax over a glass of wine and delicious dessert at Cave Vin. If your dog wants to run off-leash for a bit, head to Battle Creek Regional Dog Park in St. Paul.

10. Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City boasts 39 pet-friendly restaurants and 66 hotels where you can stay with your dog. If you want a place with a warm, intimate vibe and delectable menu, try 9C Tavern. Other welcoming establishments downtown that you should check out while you are in the city include the Latham House, The Cliff, and Hidden Grounds Coffee.

Fun for All

You don’t have to leave your dog behind next time your travel. You can make memories together by selecting a U.S. destination that not only has a vibrant dining scene and interesting attractions, but also plenty of establishments that will make you and your faithful companion feel right at home.

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Book Your Flights! These Are America’s Friendliest Cities, According To Travel+Leisure

Book Your Flights! These Are America’s Friendliest Cities, According To Travel+Leisure

When traveling within the United States, your trip can be greatly affected by how warm and inviting the city that you are visiting is. While you want to have new and different experiences, you also want to feel comfortable and welcome. Certain regions, such as the South and America’s heartland (think, Minnesota), have reputations for being particularly, albeit intangibly, hospitable. But what about individual cities?

If you are looking for friendly places to visit, you shouldn’t just rely on the word of tourist organizations that depend on drawing in outsiders to spend money at establishments within their community. Rather, take it from the locals. If they are willing to embrace friendliness—which includes a general presence of politeness, good manners, and warm dispositions, in addition to neighborly goodwill and hospitality toward outsiders—then you are in good hands.

Looking for your next adventure in a city that will embrace your presence and serve you a helping of cordiality and kindness? Try out one of these destinations, which have been identified as America’s top five friendliest cities (according to Travel+Leisure Magazine).

5. San Antonio, Texas

Maybe it is no surprise that one of the friendliest cities can be found in the great state of Texas. San Antonio takes pride in many things: the legendary Alamo, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, an iconic miles-long downtown River Walk lined with cafes and shops, a rich colonial heritage, and, first and foremost, being friendly. Even those who have lived in the south-central Texas city for decades bear testament to a genuine vein of hospitality that runs throughout San Antonio and its community members.

4. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is, in a word, open. Not simply because it boasts round-the-clock nightlife, an intriguing heritage that combines African, French and American cultures, and festive vibrancy often displayed in street parties, but also because the people who live there are amicable and receptive. Not only do residents talk about neighbors sitting out on their porches, figuratively offering their company, but they also lay claim to a general, genuine interest in learning about other people and hearing their stories.

3. Greenville, South Carolina

Graced with a quintessential southern charm, Greenville is a mecca of friendliness, where people walk down the street bearing smiles and exchanging greetings. Perhaps warmth and kindness are a reflection of the beautiful and pervasive natural attractions within the Greenville community, including Falls Park on the Reedy River and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. One thing is for sure, though: whether you are visiting Greenville to enjoy its robust art scene, popular festivals, diverse dining, or outdoor recreation opportunities, you are sure to be greeted by passersby.    

2. Norfolk, Virginia

Not to be left off a list that includes other Southern states, Virginia also possesses one of America’s friendliest cities: Norfolk. In this waterfront town situated on Virginia’s southeastern coast, southern hospitality is a badge of honor and one that is consistently supported by the community. Along with goodwill and courteous manners, travelers also can experience Nauticus, a maritime museum; the scenic Chesapeake Bay; the Chrysler Museum of Art, with its impressive collection of glass art, sculpture, and European and American paintings; and the riverside Virginia Zoo.  

1. Buffalo, New York

At first glance, this list-topper may come as a surprise, considering its position in the reputably cold northeast. However, based on input from locals, Buffalo lives up to its popular nickname, the City of Good Neighbors. Residents take pride in their community and it shows in the way they come alongside one another in times of both need and celebration, share smiles with friends and strangers on the street, and are more than happy to not only give visitors directions, but also occasionally escort them to their destination. The city embodies a strong sense of community that is seamlessly shared with outsiders.

Deep-rooted common courtesy

When considering these five culturally and geographically diverse cities, it is easy to see that they have one important quality in common: authentic friendliness. Not the kind that’s plastered on to make visitors feel welcome when shilling out dough within city limits, but the kind that is deeply ingrained and frequently manifests itself through the everyday dispositions and manners of the locals. They take pride in being friendly and are happy to live up to the reputation with words and actions.

Next time you want to take a trip to a new destination, consider one of America’s top five friendliest cities. Not only will you be able to enjoy a variety of enticing cuisines, interesting and engaging attractions, and memorable experiences, but you can tour each city at ground-level, thanks to the warm nature of their welcoming residents.

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Check Out The Top 5 Happiest Cities In The United States, According To ‘National Geographic’

Check Out The Top 5 Happiest Cities In The United States, According To ‘National Geographic’

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

A lot of places across the U.S. can lay claim as the happiest city in the country. Although not a completely objective list, National Geographic set out to determine which ones were truly the “happiest” based on measurable criteria. These are the top 5 of the places that made the cut in 2017: Boulder, CO; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA; Charlottesville, VA; Fort Collins, CO; and, the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande metro area, CA.

The study used 15 metrics to determine happiness across 190 metropolitan areas. These are some in no particular order:

  •      Healthy eating;
  •      Health and wellness, including physical fitness and even visits to the dentist;
  •      Acquisition of knowledge and continuing (ongoing) education;
  •      Engagement with and a contribution to the city’s civic life;
  •      Overall financial literacy and well-being;
  •      Ability to take time away from work, such as for a vacation; and
  •      Access to green spaces, waterways, and parks.
  1. Boulder, CO

Just 25 miles due northwest of Denver, the capital city of the State of Colorado, is the city of Boulder. Boulder, with a population of just over 100,000, is consistently listed as one of the best cities to live in. It is where the great plains and the Rocky Mountains come together to form some of the most beautiful scenic landscapes in the United States. What makes Boulder such a happy place to be? Well, who wouldn’t be happy living in a city that experiences about 300 days of sunshine a year?

The area’s moderate weather makes outdoor mountain living possible. The city has an elevation of more than 5,400 feet, situating it 150 feet higher than the mile-high city of Denver. Its population is made up of 30,000 students that attend the University of Colorado, the state’s flagship university.

  1. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

Sun. Music. Ocean vistas: these are just some of the elements that make the population of the Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA metro area one of the happiest. It is an area on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay peninsula and is just 32 miles to the south of the city of San Jose. There is plenty to do and see in this city of just over 62,000 residents, home to the University of California-Santa Cruz and its famous mascot, Sammy the Slug (made famous in the movie “Pulp Fiction”). Whether it’s a stroll on the boardwalk, taking in the beauty of the many Spanish missions, or enjoying the eateries along the bay, there’s plenty here to make residents and visitors alike happy.

  1. Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville has become synonymous with the University of Virginia. The university and its nearly 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students have called Charlottesville home for the past 200 years. It is a particular point of pride that the school was founded in 1819 by the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville is a small and quaint place to live; its population of 48,000 residents has often been called one of the friendliest in the country. But what attracts people to Charlottesville, beside the university? Despite its size, many people have found quiet and active pastimes: whether it’s strolling through its historic downtown mall, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or visiting one of the dozens of wineries or breweries in the area, there’s something for everyone.

  1. Fort Collins, CO

Another Colorado city that made it onto National Geographic’s top five list, at number four, is Fort Collins. 161,000 residents call Fort Collins home. The city is also home to Colorado State University and its 25,000 students. A main attraction that you can find is its craft beer industry, which produces more than 70 percent of the craft beer made in Colorado. And who wouldn’t want to live in a place that produces so much beer?

  1. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA

San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande metro area is the name for the largest metropolitan area located in San Luis Obispo County, California. The cities, together, have a population of over 260,000 residents. They are located at the midway point between the major cities of Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the north. California Polytechnic State University (“Cal Poly”) is located in this metro area, along with its 21,000 students, which help bring a young vibe to the metropolitan area. One of the most popular attractions that makes San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande a happy place to live is its wineries and many wine tastings. Add the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center on the campus of the Cal Poly and a budding arts scene, and you will find this a pleasant place to be.

It is easy to see why these five cities top the list of happiest places to live in the U.S. What these cities share in common are a youthful university population, contributing to the intellectual capital in each of these communities. This is not the only factor; looking at the metrics determined by National Geographic, these five cities have many subjective and objective qualities that they share in common.

What the five top cities share that make them the happiest are high marks in personal pleasure, a pride in the community, and a sense of purpose. It also helps that these five cities are bikeable communities, have a low rate of crime, and have access to clean air and clean water (in fact, the correlation between access to clean water and happiness is strong). These factors increase the happiness of its residents and make them places that more and more people want to visit.

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New Report Names the Healthiest — and Unhealthiest — States in the Country

New Report Names the Healthiest — and Unhealthiest — States in the Country

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

For the past 29 years, the United Health Foundation has issued a report ranking the states from healthiest to unhealthiest. The rankings are determined based on 35 different factors, varying from lifestyle choices to public policies to medical care.

The Top 5 Healthiest States

Last year’s top five states are the same as this year’s, though the order has changed a bit. Though Hawaii holds the record for healthiest state five years in a row, Massachusetts won the top spot in 2017. Hawaii reclaimed the title this year. For 2018, the top 5 healthiest states are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Connecticut
  4. Vermont
  5. Utah

The Bottom 5 States

West Virginia was 46th last year, but it’s moved out of the bottom five to number 44 this year. Oklahoma, however, moved down a few slots, while Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana round out the bottom five. The unhealthiest states in 2018 are:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Alabama
  4. Mississippi
  5. Louisiana

Key Observations

There are a few important observations from the study to note. Researchers are especially concerned about the rise in obesity over the past year. It’s up 5 percent, meaning an astounding 31.3 percent of Americans are obese. It’s also worth mentioning that, for the most part, the unhealthiest states had the highest rates of obesity, while the healthiest states had the lowest obesity rates.

Another concerning factor was premature death, which is defined as death before the age of 75. This has increased 3 percent. Scientists believe a variety of factors influenced this rise, including suicide rates (which have risen 16 percent over the past six years) and the rise of chronic diseases.

On a positive note, childhood poverty has decreased 6 percent since last year. The number of mental health providers has also risen substantially.

Why are some states healthier than others?

One of the biggest factors influencing overall health seems to be primarily social. Societal determinants, such as poverty levels, access to walking areas, tobacco usage, etc. all affect the health of individuals within the community. In fact, most of the unhealthiest states have significant portions of the population who are at or below the poverty line.

It’s also important to note that, while states rank higher or lower than others based on all the factors combined, each state has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, there may be a state that has excellent medical facilities but ranked low on the list due to other negative determinants.

How can we all be healthier?

There are many things we can do to make ourselves healthier in the new year, both on a state-by-state as well as an individual basis.

For example, smoking rates have been falling for the past several decades. If those numbers keep falling, health should improve. Quitting smoking (or never starting) is one of the best ways to improve your overall health.

Of course, physical activity helps improve health, and fitness trackers help many people stay aware of their daily activity levels. As always, diet and exercise seem to be key to staying as healthy as possible.

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How Is A Person’s Life Expectancy Affected By The Neighborhood They Live In?

How Is A Person’s Life Expectancy Affected By The Neighborhood They Live In?

Since the 1990s, researchers have been studying why some neighborhoods are healthy and others have higher levels of chronic health conditions such as cancer and heart disease, more accidental deaths and other mortality, and higher rates of depression and anxiety. Where you live can help to keep you and your family healthy, and therefore affect how long you live. For example, a neighborhood associated with environmental pollutants, a high crime rate, or one that simply lacks access to healthy food or good medical care, may cause or exacerbate existing health problems. More research on which neighborhoods are associated with longer lives, and which with shorter ones has been released by the Centers for Disease Control’s U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy and Estimates Project (USALEEP), published September 2018. Here are a few of the findings.

What Factors Influence Life Expectancy in Neighborhoods?

The CDC partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to conduct the survey. The RWJF has identified common factors that influence health and life expectancy. They include access to:

  • Healthy food
  • Good schools
  • Affordable housing
  • Recreation and physical activity
  • Employment opportunities

Access to all of these amenities may help people to live longer, happier lives, according to the RWJF. The Small-area Life Expectancy and Estimates Project (USALEEP) has added to health knowledge by helping to uncover the difference a few blocks can make between a long, healthy life and reduced life expectancy.

RWJF vice president Don Schwarz told Philadelphia NBC 10 that “The more local the data, the more useful they can be for pinpointing disparities and driving action.”

The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 81.2 years for women, 76.3 years for men, and overall, a combined average of 78.8 years. The survey covers about 89% of census tracts in the U.S. and is based on the National Vital Statistics system and other national population and residence data.

How Do Neighborhoods Contribute to Life Expectancy?

Dr. Garth Graham, M.D., a cardiologist and president of the Aetna Foundation, told NBC News that “social determinants of health” present in neighborhoods can affect life expectancy as much, or even more than genetics and family history.

As one example, a Harvard School of Public Health study determined that women who lived in or near green spaces lived longer than those who lived in a neighborhood with no parks or open space. Dr. Graham said “the ability to safely walk and play outside” contributes to overall health, which includes a long, healthy lifespan.

A study published in the Journal of Public Health found that children who lived near fast food restaurants gained weight faster and had a greater risk of shortened lifespans than those who lived in neighborhoods with no fast food restaurants. The phenomenon of “healthy food deserts,” neighborhoods that lack markets selling fresh fruits and vegetables, has been well-documented. People who live in “food desert” neighborhoods have shorter lifespans than those living in neighborhoods with ample, easy access to healthy food. Neighborhoods with high crime rates experience direct reductions in lifespan due to criminal activity and stress-related illnesses.

Is the USALEEP Survey Completely Accurate and Does the Project Cover Every Neighborhood?

The USALEEP Survey is an indicator of potential health problems that are neighborhood-related, not a complete prediction of exactly how long every person in a neighborhood will live. It’s part of a growing body of geo-specific data that helps to tie health outcomes and challenges to neighborhoods and communities.

Not all neighborhoods are covered by the USALEEP Survey. According to CDC researchers, the survey was able to find statistically reliable life tables for 88.7% of the more than 65,600 census tracts in the U.S. Tracts with small population sizes (primarily under 5,000) and missing age-specific death counts weren’t able to be included. Some of the results also included estimates of death rates and life expectancy. Overall, the survey shows reliable, but not perfect information, and it can’t predict the life expectancy of any one individual.

Can The Survey Be Used to Choose a Neighborhood or Recommend Improvements?

You can see where your neighborhood’s average life expectancy rates compared to your state or the U.S. as a whole by visiting RWJF’s searchable database and entering your address and zip code. The database doesn’t list which health-promoting factors your neighborhood possesses, including parks, good schools, or fresh and healthy food, so you’d have to guess. The features people value in their neighborhoods also include friendly neighbors, community spirit, and attractive, well-maintained homes, each of which also promotes health on both an individual and a community basis.

In a way, the USALEEP survey has put numbers to things that common sense tells us are important. Some of the neighborhoods with low life expectancies have high crime rates. Others have high infant mortality rates because of a lack of prenatal care and potential substance use disorders. Unhealthy environments contribute to high rates of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. For now, research into the connection between the neighborhood we live in and our life expectancy continues. No matter where our neighborhoods rank in the survey, we can seek to make them healthier and happier.

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