Most Stressful Cities

Amy Guertin
Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan

Whether you're considering a vacation or a relocation, the more information you gather, the better decision you are able to make. Although a listing of the most stressful cities may not tell you where you should go, it can definitely help you to rule out where you may not want to go. Understanding what makes a city stressful can also help you to better plan your life and manage your day-to-day to stress.

The Top 10

Ten of the most stressful cities in the U.S. as of 2014 - followed by the criteria that make them stressful - are:

  1. Detroit, Michigan: Although violent crime in Detroit is down ten percent since last year, Detroit still has the top spot as the nation's most dangerous city with a violent crime rate of 2,137 per 100,000 residents - five times the national average. Detroit also has the top spot as the nation's poorest city, with a median income of $25,193 and 36.2 percent of the population below the poverty level. Heavy clouds make up 51 percent of Detroit's year, making it ninth on the list of cities with the lowest annual sunshine. This city's average work week is 35.1 hours, 0.8 hours above the national average of 34.2 hours.
  2. New York City, New York: Traffic congestion is a big issue of New York, with residents spending an average of 53 hours per year in traffic. It earned the top spot for cost of living, with the cost to live in Manhattan being more than 120 percent above the national average. The median household income is actually less than the national average but housing, grocery, utility, and transportation costs are all above the national average. New York also has the highest population density in the U.S. with 27,012 people per square mile.
  3. San Francisco, California: This city has even more traffic congestion than New York, with an average annual time of 56 hours spent in traffic. San Francisco is third in terms of highest cost of living, although it has the top spot for the highest housing costs in the country. San Francisco is second in highest population density with 17,179 people per square mile.
  4. Buffalo, New York: Buffalo has a significant amount of violent crime. It comes in at number ten on the list of most dangerous cities, with a violent crime rate of 1,238 per 100,000 residents. It is second in terms of poverty, with a median income of $24,536 and 32.9 percent below the poverty level. Buffalo is also third on the list of lowest annual sunshine, with 57 percent of the year being cloudy.
  5. Los Angeles, California: No city in the U.S. has more traffic congestion than Los Angeles, where residents spend an average of 64 hours per year in traffic. It is ninth in the highest cost of living: 30.4% above the U.S. average. The typical household income is below the national average and unemployment is above the national average. Los Angeles is also sixth in cities with the highest air pollution.
  6. Cleveland, Ohio is considered the ninth most dangerous city in the U.S. Although murders dropped by 27 percent last year, there are still 1,363 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. It is third on the list of the poorest cities, with a median income of $45,936 and 29.6 percent of its residents being below the poverty line. Cleveland is fifth in the lowest amount of annual sunshine, with 55 percent of the year being cloudy.
  7. Seattle, Washington: Traffic congestion is a major issue in Seattle, with an average annual time of 37 hours spent in traffic. It is also has the country's eighth longest work week at 34.7 hours, 0.5 hours longer than the national average. Seattle has the top spot for the lowest annual sunshine, with 62 percent of the year being cloudy.
  8. Miami, Florida: Poverty is a significant problem in Miami, where the median income is $47,500 and 27.7 percent of the population is below the poverty line. Miami is tenth on the list of lowest annual sunshine, with 48% of its days being at least partially cloudy. It is the ninth most highly densely populated city, with 11,136 people per square mile.
  9. Boston, Massachusetts: Traffic is also a significant issue in Boston, where residents spent an average of 38 in traffic each year. It is seventh in terms of the highest cost of living, being 39.7% above U.S. average. The median income is on par with the national average, but groceries, health care, and utilities costs, as well as unemployment are higher than national average. Boston has the fourth highest population density, with 12,793 people per square mile.
  10. Stockton, California: Stockton is ranked as the eighth most dangerous city, due to the city filing bankruptcy and cutting back on its police force. The current crime rate is 1,408 per 100,000 residents. Stockton is the only city on the top ten list of cities with the highest unemployment rate, coming in at number ten, with an unemployment rate of 13.2 percent, nearly double the national average of 6.7 percent.

Criteria Used to Determine Stress

The criteria to rank the most stressful cities were:

Make an Informed Decision

It's important to note that there is a personal component to stress. What one person perceives as extremely stressful, another may perceive as merely a nuisance. Seattle, for example, is number seven on the list due to high traffic congestion, a long work week, and low annual sunshine. Seattle does, however, have an extensive public transportation system that can help residents deal with its high traffic congestion. So, if you don't mind cloudy days and hard work, Seattle may be an option for you. If, however, cloudy days get you down, you may decide to stay away from Seattle, as well as Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland and Miami - at least for the long-term.

Regardless of which city is at the top of this - or any - list, a study published in Nature indicates that urban living in general can increase the chances that a person will experience anxiety and depression. The most important thing is to know yourself, know your limits, and know the stresses involved in the city in which you are considering.

Most Stressful Cities