The 10 Most Stressed Out Cities in America Might Surprise You

Are you constantly stressed out? Obviously there are a lot of things that factor into a person’s stress level, but it might have something to do with where you live. Perhaps you're in one of the most stressed out cities in the U.S.? The number crunchers at real estate brokerage Movoto — the same folks who brought us yesterday’s Twitter analysis of sex, beer, and Netflix — worked a little magic to figure out which cities could stand to chill out a bit, and though there aren’t many surprises, it does explain rather a lot.

Using seven pieces of criteria — commute time, unemployment, high cost of living, crime per 100,000 residents, hours worked, population density, and percentage of income spent on rent — Movoto ranked the 100 largest cities in the U.S. They drew their data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey for 2008-2012, as well as from the FBI; based on this data, each piece of criteria for each city was given a score of one to 100. Then they averaged these numbers into one Big Deal Score, with the lowest score being the number one most stressed out city in America. Ready for the list? In order of most stressed out to… well, not exactly least stressed out, but not-as-stressed-out-as-number-one, they are:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. New York, NY
  3. Miami, FL
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Jersey City, NJ
  6. Oakland, CA
  7. Chicago, IL
  8. Newark, NJ
  9. Philadelphia, PA
  10. Los Angeles, CA

Does anyone else feel kind of like this?

Although Movoto notes that they “wouldn’t have expected D.C. to beat NYC… or for L.A. to be so low,” that actually makes perfect sense to me. Given that D.C. is, y’know, the capitol of the country, I would imagine that a good deal of the workforce there is employed in the extremely high stress world of politics. That’s not to say that the entertainment industry or what have you isn’t stressful, too — as a showbiz person myself, trust me, I know it can be plenty stressful — but it’s not stressful in that “Oh my goodness, the fate of the country and maybe the world is riding on my decisions” kind of way. I was, however, a little surprised to see Jersey City on the list; its inclusion, Movoto says, might be chalked up to “sympathy stress,” re: its proximity to New York. It scored number three for worst commute time (the average being 37 minutes), as well as for worst population density (16,793 people per square mile). Maybe it has something to do with the fact that stress might actually be contagious?

But hey, the good news is that stress might not make us sick, even though we’re all accustomed to thinking that it does. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, not only is the whole “stress leads to sickness” thing difficult to test in the first place due ethical reasons (stressing people out, then exposing them to viruses in a lab setting is generally frowned upon), what we do know shows that the big picture is more complicated than stress simply overwhelming the immune system. Not that, y’know, stress is good for your immune system — but it might not be as terrible for it as we thought.

Movoto has a whole lot of other details about their conclusions, as well as rankings for 40 other cities, so head on over there to check ‘em out. In the meantime, try to take a few breaths and enjoy the weekend, OK?