Not every city puts their populations through the meat-grinder of stress. Some, according to a new study by Zipjet, can offer the big city experience without the stress and frayed nerves.
The project was in part inspired by the “deterioration of mental health and quality of life” that can result from the speed of the big city. It’s also a reminder that opportunity does not necessarily need to coincide with pressure and anxiety.
The study was conducted by taking into account factors that contribute to extreme stress, such as unemployment, poverty, traffic, pollution, and debt. Other atmospheric characteristics of cities, like the weather and green space, were also considered.
The final list includes 150 cities that span from Iraq to Canada, from Greece to El Salvador, from Bulgaria to Chinese Taipei. Unsurprisingly, many of the cities that top the list for least stressful lifestyles are European. Germany is home to four of the top ten least stressful cities. The number one least stressful city? Stuttgart, Germany. The least stressful city in the United States is Seattle (maybe this has something to do with Washington’s early adoption of legalized recreational marijuana?)
“Mental health problems are on the rise worldwide, with stress being a trigger and contributing factor towards this increase. We hope that by pinpointing how the least stressful cities are managing this issue, those cities struggling with a stressed-out population can overcome it.” Says Florian Färber in a statement. “We’re happy to be a part of the wave of digitalization working to reduce stress all around the world.”
Here are the least stressful cities, according to the study, from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Oceania.
Seattle’s least stressful qualities, according to the study, are its lack of air pollution and racial equality. Surprisingly, the metric that is least favorable for the Emerald City is its lack of green space. Seattle’s most stressful factor? Its public transportation.
Unlike Seattle, Stuttgart passed with flying colors in terms of its access to green space, which earned the city the study’s perfect score. It also excels at residents’ perception of security, family purchase power, mental health and gender equality. In terms of the city’s most stressful factors, Stuttgart ranked high in terms of its extreme noise and light pollution. It’s also a fairly cloudy climate.
Wellington, New Zealand
It’s easy to see why New Zealand, and not its larger, conservative cousin Australia, is home to this continents least stressful city. Naturally, Wellington excels at green space and lack of air pollution. It also has high ratings of gender equality, public transportation, and family purchasing power. The areas where Wellington lacks are noise pollution, physical health, social security and sunlight hours.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
For those familiar with the region, this is also another non-shocker. Abu Dhabi scores high in terms of its lack of population density, the perception of security, and traffic. The city scores dismally low on green space, gender equality, and light pollution. It also lacks an efficient public transportation system.
This city is world-renowned for its cleanliness and technological advancement. It’s also a major center for world commerce. The city was awarded the best possible score for its public transportation systems, and the lowest possible score for its light pollution. It’s also scored high in terms of light pollution and unemployment. However, it is an extremely dense city in terms of population. On all other metrics, the city scored consistently average.
San Jose, Costa Rica
We’re talking about the capital city of a country where people applaud when the sun sets. Costa Rica is well known for its culturally encapsulating saying Pura Vida, which directly translates as “pure life,” though the saying transcends any simple translation in its significance. San Jose scores most favorably in the perception of security, and mental health. It scores low in terms of population density and is the worst for debt and unemployment.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is a coastal city in South Africa and the country’s most populous city next to Johannesburg. This city scores high for its lack of population density and seemingly eternal sunshine. The worst metrics for Cape Town are its unemployment, physical health and lack of social security.