Quality of Life

How’s life? How happy are you? Are you feeling fulfilled?

Quality of Life

By Oby Morgan - Realtor with Christie's

This is not an attempt to give you a panic attack or ignite an existential crisis. These are basic examples of questions related to a much more complex inquiry: How is your quality of life?

Quality of life is a term that is often used to describe an individual’s overall well-being and satisfaction with their life. It encompasses a wide range of elements, including physical health, emotional well-being, social relationships, financial stability, and access to education and resources. 

As a concept, quality of life (QOL) is multi-dimensional and very subjective. It can differ from person to person and can change over time, and is not only influenced by material factors such as income and housing, but also by immaterial factors such as social support, community engagement, and personal beliefs and values. While QOL conversations and analysis are often specific to medical care, we are interested in QOL from a perspective that encompasses life more broadly, and focuses on overall individual satisfaction and the material and immaterial things that support that satisfaction.

Governments and organizations the world over have their own take on what QOL is, and how to analyze it. For example, The World Happiness Report was created for the goal of “give[ing] more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.” Their analysis is based on the measurement of: healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, GDP, generosity, and absence of corruption. The World Health Organization files QOL under its Division of Mental Health & Prevention of Substance Abuse, and defines QOL as “Perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and values system in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns”. Their analysis is based on the measurement of the following “domains”: Physical, Psychological, Level of Independence, Environment, Spirituality/Religion/Personal Beliefs.

Without listing the 10+ other reports, their heady premises, and supporting indexes, you probably get the idea. Quality of life has been a driving force behind our local economy, it’s why many of us love living here so much, and continues to be what draws people to plant roots here. 

Breaking It Down

It’s safe to assume that many folks have a relatively good quality of life here. However, what makes life good for those who feel that way? What about those who don’t feel that way? What could be done to make it better?

Let’s start by breaking it down into eleven basic elements and their supporting metrics:

    • Participation in voting in federal, state, and especially local elections.
    • Cinema seats.
    • Museums, theatres, cinemas, music, and other entertainment venues.
    • The demand for Museums, theatres, cinemas, music, and other entertainment venues.
    • Educational attainment.
      18-24-year-olds without post-high school education or training as a % of the permanent population of the same age.
    • Early Childhood Education.
    • Wooded & Recreational Areas (as a % of total surface area).
    • Air Quality.
    • Water Quality.
    • Percentage of practicing doctors per 1,000 residents.
    • The mortality rate of under-65-year-olds.
    • Suicide Rate.
    • Accessibility of services (the mean distance to: grocery store, compulsory education, secondary education, doctor, pharmacies, museums, and parks)
    • Access to seasonal produce
    • Food & Farming.
    • Percentage of the population with access to Broadband Internet.
    • Price of public transport (monthly ticket).
    • Choice of transportation mode to work (public transport/human-powered transport, motorized private transport).
    • Public transportation stops (number of stops per mile).
    • Violent Crimes.
    • Burglaries.
    • Road Accidents.
    • Traffic Noise (share of populations disturbed in the night by > 55 decibels).
    • Vacancy Rate of Dwellings.
    • Share of dwellings with more than one person per room.
    • Labor Market Participation Rate.
    • Social Assistance Rate (share of social assistance recipients among the permanent resident population).
    • Unemployment Rate.
    • Average Income.

Some of these items are fielded by the private sector, others are in the care of the public sector, and some are delivered by a combination of both. Also, this is a large list to even think about, much less evaluate and quantify. While that’s a project that will remain at the top of my list for quite some time to come, I thought it most productive to start with a list of local non-profits that are doing something to make a positive and material impact on the above list. That’s where you come in.

You Can Guide The Giving

I’ve had the privilege of supporting some in various ways, from donations to sponsorship, and even collaborative promotions and auctions. One time, we worked with a very talented local artist to have the cover-image from one edition of Capital At Play turned into a beautiful painting. We then donated that painting to a charity auction which we promoted via the publication and ultimately raised thousands of extra dollars for them. While I can claim to be an expert in some things, non-profits are not one of them.

Donations will need to reach a critical mass before the actual fund can be created. While that is happening, I would love your input on nonprofits. If you have an opinion as to which local non-profits should be paired with the above quality of life metrics, please provide your feedback via this survey.

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