America's Top 10 Most Stressed Out Cities

Business man yelling to mobile phone outdoors
Adam Pretty/Getty Images
By Robert McGarvey

NEW YORK -- So stressed that many mornings your eyeballs feel ready to explode out of your face?

The cause may be as simple as where you live.

That's the news from online real estate brokerage Movoto which has unveiled its ranking of America's top 10 most stressed out cities.

What didn't make the top 10 list is as interesting as what did. Not a contender is Detroit (No. 21) despite municipal bankruptcy, a violent crime rate that often puts it on top of any most dangerous cities poll, and frankly there is no light at the end of Motor City's very dark tunnel. Even so, it's not a stressful place to live, per Movoto.

Houston, the nation's fourth biggest city, came in a tranquil 43.

The sixth biggest city, Phoenix, didn't even make Movoto's top 50 ranking (it placed 52nd). That makes it the least stressful big city, with even less stress than Charlotte, N.C. (No. 50).

The only other truly big city that didn't place is the nation's seventh biggest, San Antonio, which, said Movoto blogger Randy Nelson who wrote up the research, came in a laid-back 71.

So the stress-phobic know where to move.

Stay tuned for the top 10 countdown but, first, here is how Movoto determined stress. It started with a list of the nation's 100 largest cities, then calculated these measures:
  • Commute time
  • Unemployment
  • High cost of living
  • Crime
  • Hours worked
  • Population density
  • Percentage of income spent on rent
Fair enough. The more time spent working and commuting to pay high living expenses is an undeniable gateway to stress. Factor in population density -- overcrowd rats, and in psych lab experiments they eat each other -- and genuine reasons to fear becoming a crime victim, and indeed there is plenty to be on edge about.

The actual Movoto rankings of the top 10 are sure to incite bar brawls, and it starts with Los Angeles, which won a surprising tenth place finish. Surprising, because Los Angeles always bills itself as a kind of lotus land where worries melt into the Pacific Ocean. Apparently not, because Angelenos have a very high cost of living (eighth highest, per Movoto) and that's stressing out the citizens.

Philadelphia came in ninth, Newark eighth, Chicago seventh and Oakland sixth. No surprises there. Oakland has horrific crime (ninth worst in the nation), and Chicago and Philadelphia have high population density. To boot, really, all of these towns are kinds of second cities, places where people are even though maybe they want to be elsewhere (San Francisco or Berkeley, for Oakland residents, for instance).

Then the race gets more intense. In fifth place is Jersey City, N.J., the second biggest city in the Garden State after Newark and directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan. What won it such a high ranking is long commutes to work (37 minutes on average) and the nation's third highest population density with 16,793 people per square mile.

Fourth place went to San Francisco, which scored high in population density (second highest in the nation with 17,233 people per square mile). But what pushed it into stress overdrive is a cost of living that is the country's highest and, said Movoto, 52 percent higher than the national average.

Third place is Miami where you might think it is all about tall cool drinks and sun -- but residents are seriously stressed about simply affording rent, said Movoto. There's also a lot of crime (it ranks 12 in the country, compared to 56th for San Francisco in the crime count).

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Now let the fight begin.

The second most stressful city is New York City.

The most stressful is Washington, D.C.

That's not a typo.

Blogger Nelson, in an interview, said that what many found most surprising was Washington, D.C.'s win, but, he insisted, it won fair and square. More than three rating points separated it from New York, and going down the survey just about all other cities won their place by a margin of one stress point more than the next place finisher.

Jersey City, for instance, totals 22.43 points. San Francisco edged it out for fourth with 21.57 points. Sixth place Oakland scored 23.

New York City's total is 19.57 in an index where the lower the city score, the higher the stress, said Nelson.

Washington, D.C. slammed it with a 16.43 score, mainly due to the number of hours worked by residents (40.1 hours, third highest work week in the country) and long commutes (33 minutes).

Extremely high population density (27.092 people per square mile), long commutes (44 minutes) and fiercely high rents give New Yorkers their stress.

But now they also have to deal with being edged out by Washington D.C., in the stress race and that has got to hurt.

Maybe enough to net a win for New York City in next year's tally.

7 Simple Habits to Save a Pretty Penny (or $100)
See Gallery
America's Top 10 Most Stressed Out Cities
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? As a frugal guy, this is one of my favorite rules in spending. If you’re about to spend any more than $20 on something that is unnecessary, don’t. Instead, put the item down and wait 30 days to buy it. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by not making unnecessary frivolous purchases.
I literally mean freeze your credit cards. It seems a bit extreme, but think of it this way. The average credit card comes with a 13 percent or higher interest rate. By simply not using credit cards as often, you’ll save a ton. So, get a plastic sandwich bag and put your credit cards in it. Fill it with water, zip it up and throw it in the freezer. Without easy access to those tempting pieces of plastic, you probably won’t use them as much. However, they’ll still be around -- in an emergency, you can retrieve them from the ice.
Have you ever looked around your house, seen a few items and thought, “I could have made that!” You probably could have. The only thing is, you didn’t. Instead you paid for it. From now on, before you buy something you think you can make on your own, give it a shot. I saved a little over a hundred bucks about two weeks ago. I needed a new bird cage for my fiancé’s doves. Instead of buying a cage for $200, I made one that was far bigger for less than $80.
Did you know that a clean air filter in your car can lead to 7 percent more fuel efficiency? That means at current gas prices, with a clean air filter, you’ll save about $100 a year, if you drive the average 10,000 miles.
How often on the way home from the office do you want to stop for a convenient quick meal? You’ve had a long day, and it feels justified. But it costs much more than a home-cooked meal. The answer is your slow cooker. Use it to prepare your meal in the morning on days you know will be rough. This way, you can skip the fast food and rush home to an already ready home-cooked meal.

Do you pay a maintenance fee for your bank account? Why? Tons of banks offer checking and savings accounts without them. Look to your local credit union or even switch to an online bank. When comparing your options, also look at the interest you can earn. Currently, I get about 3 percent on checking and about 3.4 percent on savings, but who knows what kind of great deals you can find?

I’ve had tons of options to sign up for customer rewards programs and I was just too busy. So, I didn’t sign up. Then one day, I realized that I was paying for rewards I wasn’t getting. The cost of the rewards obviously trickles down to the end consumer. So, if the end consumer doesn’t take part, he or she loses money in the process. Since I’ve signed up for every reward program around me, I’ve saved at least 20 or 30 bucks a month in rewards.

Read Full Story