If you’re stressed out, you might just find life a tad easier if you’re in the right place.
Some places just ooze stress — whether it’s on the streets or on the job. Personal finance site WalletHub reports that work-related stress alone causes more than $300 billion in annual health spending — and then there are all the other kinds of stress: money, family and relationships.
And while stress is a double-edged sword — just the right amount can improve a person’s well-being — push it beyond that point and it takes a heavy toll. In fact, it affects more than 100 million Americans. Going past that point of no return subjects people to “chronic” stress, which can bring its own stress: health problems and loss of productivity among them.
So WalletHub decided to investigate and find out which cities in the United States are the most and the least stressed.
Taking into account numerous factors, from debt load to divorce and suicide rates, average number of hours spent on the job and even the average hours of sleep per night, WalletHub rated 150 cities across 27 key metrics and ranked them in order of stress level. The metrics fit into one or another of five basic categories: work-related stress, money-related stress, family-related stress, health- and safety-related stress, and coping with stress.
(Related on ThinkAdvisor: 15 Best US Cities for Retirement: 2016)
Figuring that readers’ stress levels are high enough, we’re focusing on bringing you the 10 cities in the U.S. where stress is the lowest. If you’re craving more, then you’re just an adrenaline junkie.
Here are WalletHub’s 10 picks for the least stressed cities in America:
With a view like this from La Jolla Beach, who could be stressed out? (Photo: iStock)
10. San Diego
If you’d like to head to San Diego to soothe your tortured psyche, bring money — otherwise you’ll be stressing over that. Seriously, that was the category in which this lovely city did worst — scoring 53 out of 150 (and in this case a low score is not a good thing). But otherwise it did very well.
San Diegans apparently are adept at coping with stress — the city scored 141 in that category; of course they do have the zoo, and koalas, which are definitely stress-relieving. Families must do well here, too, with a score of 139, and health- and safety-related stress came in at 135. Work-related stress didn’t do terribly well, but wasn’t terribly bad either, at 96.
Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota, is home to Falls Park with relaxing views of natural waterfalls. (Photo: iStock)
9. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls residents don’t excel at coping with stress, just achieving a measly 45 in the category. But work-related stress is a low 136; family-related stress is even lower, at 143; health- and safety-related stress lower still, at 145; and best of all was money-related stress, at a chill 148.
The city also boasted the lowest percentage of adults in fair or poor health, placing 132nd overall, so that low stress level is certainly improving people’s physical well-being.
Overland Park is a popular suburb outside of Kansas City, Missouri, where you can find this skyline view. (Photo: iStock)
8. Overland Park, Kansas
Overland Park has the lowest poverty rate of any city in the study — 6%. That’s nearly seven times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest, at 39.8%. So, as might be expected, its money-related stress ranking is a relaxed 149.
But Overland Park has other things that recommend it, too. Although coping with stress isn’t a standout at 85, work-related stress is down at 108; family-related stress drops to 129 and health- and safety-related stress come in at 138.
For almost 40 years, Plano has hosted an annual balloon festival. Sounds like a very unstressful way to spend a weekend. (Photo: iStock)
7. Plano, Texas
Plano paints an interesting picture. It comes in third for the most average weekly hours worked, which could account for its less-than-outstanding ranking of 75 for work-related stress. Plano residents also could stand to do better at coping with stress, only getting a grade of 61 in that category.
But outside of those, the city fares very well. Family-related stress is a low 144; health- and safety-related stress is an even lower 146; and at 147, the city has the fourth lowest poverty rate among all the cities in the study. Even better, it has the second most affordable housing — which probably explains the fact that it also has the lowest level of money-related stress of all 150 cities ranked.
We thought with the stress of Silicon Valley, San Francisco might not make the list, but there must be something in the California air that makes stress melt away. (Photo: iStock)
6. San Francisco
San Francisco carries a fair amount of work-related stress — at 66 — and money-related stress, at 97. But the city also has the third-highest rating for job security and is tied for third place for the most psychologists per capita — which could explain its ranking of 142 for coping with stress.
It’s got a relaxed 144 for health- and safety-related stress and an even more laid-back 145 for family-related stress.
San Jose is just south of San Francisco, so northern California must have some very laid-back residents. (Photo: iStock)
5. San Jose, California
Do you know the way to San Jose? If so, you’ll probably be healthier if you go, since its percentage of those in fair or poor health is a third that of the top five cities. And you won’t be alone, either, since its divorce rate is the fourth lowest of all 150 cities.
In addition, although it did rather poorly on money-related stress, at 62, it did well in work-related stress — 107 — and coping with stress — 131 — and considerably better on family-related stress, at 147, and health- and safety-related stress, at 148.
Madison earns the title of one of only five platinum level bike cities in the country. All those endorphins must keep the residents happy and stress-free. (Photo: iStock)
4. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison has a truly impressive 147 for work-related stress, which could have something to do with the fact that it tied for fourth place for fewest average weekly hours worked — apparently a good thing. It did, however, rank 92nd for money-related stress.
Health- and safety-related stress was 118 and family-related stress came in at 127, while coping with stress was an impressive 138.
It's hard to imagine anyone can be stressed on a beach like this, but should you come upon a worried tourist, just throw the Hawaiian "shaka" signal, meaning "hang loose" or "no worries." (Photo: iStock)
3. Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu has two categories in which it could stand to improve: work-related stress, for which it scored 73 (probably because everyone wants to leave the office and get to the beach), and money-related stress, which came in at 76 (maybe too many people gave in to that beach urge). The city does, however, have the third most expensive housing in the study (maybe a lot of people just sleep on the beach and have done with it).
But people apparently are wary of what they spend, since residents also have the third highest credit scores. In addition, the city gets a 135 for coping with stress, 148 for family-related stress and the best of all for health- and safety-related stress, at 150.
Residents of Irvine, an affluent city in Orange County, don't have much to worry about when it comes to work and money. (Photo: iStock)
2. Irvine, California
Irvine has the lowest number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents, 0.49, which is more than 40 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest, at 19.89. It also boasts the second-highest credit scores in the group.
Work-related stress comes in at a could-be-improved 68, while money-related stress does a bit better at 90. Coping with stress is actually pretty good, at 136, but both family-related stress and health- and safety-related stress shone at 149.
Situated between San Francisco and San Jose, Fremont tops the list of least stressed cities. Based on this list, it's clear the 60-mile stretch is the worry-free zone of the country. (Photo: iStock)
1. Fremont, California
Fremont has the lowest divorce rate, 12.24%, which is about three times lower than in Cleveland, which has the highest at 41.29%. Oddly, it also has the highest credit scores of all 150 cities and the second lowest poverty rate, too. Also, it’s tied with Oakland and San Francisco for the most psychologists per capita.
Work-related stress here is ranked at 61, but otherwise the city does well; money-related stress is 116 — not bad for California — and health- and safety-related stress ranks 132nd. Coping with stress is a great 147, while family-related stress is the best of all at 150.
-- Related on ThinkAdvisor:
- 10 Best Cities for Millennials to Live
- 15 Best US Cities for Retirement: 2016
- 20 Best Cities to Start a Career