When people with disabilities and their families are considering a particular urban area, numerous factors come into play. Does the city provide accessible amenities, such as sidewalks, transportation, entertainment options, and parks? Is affordable housing available, and is this housing economical considering the cost of living? Is there a sufficient supply of doctors and therapists? Affordable home attendants? Public hospitals?
The consumer finance website WalletHub's latest annual “Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities” report seeks to answer many of these questions for 182 U.S. cities.
For the report, WalletHub surveyed the nation's largest 150 metro areas plus two of the most populous cities in each state. Each city is ranked based on 31 factors on a 100-point scale, grouped into three main categories: economic factors, quality of life and health care accessibility.
For the fifth straight year, Oakland Park, Kansas, earned the highest overall score, followed by South Burlington, Vermont, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
At the bottom end of the list is New Haven, Connecticut, followed by Providence, Rhode Island and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Among the nation's largest metropolises, San Francisco ranked sixth, St. Louis eighth and Minneapolis fourteenth. On the other end of the spectrum, Las Vegas ranked 175th, Newark 166th and New Orleans 160th.
However, people consulting the report should not presume that highly ranked cities will address all their individual needs or, conversely, that areas ranked low overall are out of the question.
For example, San Francisco ranked first for quality of life due to its numerous and accessible parks and its large community of people with disabilities. However, the city ranked 152nd for economy as a result of its severe housing shortage. Likewise, New York City ranked fourth for quality of life, but barely placed in the top quarter of cities because of its high living expenses.
For people who place a higher premium on health care quality, affordability and access, Minneapolis ranked seventh in that category among larger cities, and Milwaukee and Tallahassee were 21st and 24th, respectively.
For those more concerned about housing availability and economic opportunities, Yonkers, New York; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Jacksonville, Florida, ranked highly in this category.
To see how your city compares and learn more about the methodology used to arrive at the rankings, click here.