The Five Most Stressful Places to Live in the U.S.

If you want to take that vacation, go to Hawaii. But stay away from West Virginia.

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If you want to take that vacation, go to Hawaii. But stay away from West Virginia. In a Gallup poll released yesterday, those two states ranked as the least and most stressful places to live, respectively.

(MOREThe Healthiest Places to Live in the U.S., Ranked)

The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks the stress levels of Americans living in all 50 states. Over 350,000 people were interviewed over the course of a year and were asked to answer the question: “Did you feel stressed during a lot of the day yesterday?”

West Virginians felt the most stressed, with 47.1% answering in the affirmative.

Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah and Massachusetts didn’t fare much better, coming in right behind. Worrisomely, West Virginia, Kentucky and Utah have ranked in the top five consistently for the past five years, though it is unclear why.

According to the survey, stress levels overall did not deviate considerably in 2012 compared with 2011. The Northeast and Midwest consistently reported the highest levels of stress than other regions of the United States, with a few exceptions.

(MOREThe World’s Best — and Worst — Places to Live)

Less-stressed states tended to report more ‘enjoyment’ in comparison to the most-stressed states.

Unsurprisingly, Hawaii is the most relaxed state in the union — a title it’s held for the past five years.

5 Most Stressful States

1. West Virginia

2. Rhode Island

3. Kentucky

4. Utah

5. Massachusetts

5 Least Stressful States

1. Hawaii

2. Louisiana

3. Mississippi

4. Iowa

5. Wyoming

37 comments
CamiloErazo
CamiloErazo

haway is the biggest meth consumer. for definition a freaking island is an antistress place for anyone but michael jackson sons. 

RachelCara
RachelCara

I live in in Berkeley County, WV and I love it here.... lived here on and off for over 15 years. I have also lived in Baltimore City and right outside DC.... now THAT'S stress.... so many people, constant noise, traffic jams, murder rates through the roof. Out here it's quiet, simple, INEXPENSIVE living. 

n7specops
n7specops

What was the cause of stress for these people. I live in Charleston, WV and am very happy. I also lived in Boone County, WV up until I was 18 and I was happy. And I'm not gonna sit here and say my comment here is speaking for anyone else. I'm just wondering what caused these people to be stressed? I mean, for all I know someone may have been asked if they were stressed and said yes and the only thing that made their life an apparent living hell is because their favorite team lost the other day and his buddies are giving him crap about it and whoever interviewed them used them in the gallup poll just because that person was someone who said they were stressed and were able to use them in the numbers game.

Hubert39
Hubert39

Mississippi and Louisiana? It's because they are very conservative and don't know what's going on in the USA and the world. Other words. Their are brain dead.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

2. Louisiana

3. Mississippi


Because they are all on welfare, easy living.

ScottFisher
ScottFisher

The statistical approach here does not meet the standard of the Title of the article.

The reality is that West Virginia citizens REPORT that they are stressed more often than those in other states.

That is NOT the same as West Virginia actually BEING the most stressful place to live. There is no "control group" here. If you ask a FISH and a HUMAN which is more stressful to live in -- air or water -- you will obviously get two different answers. Neither of these answers would be helpful data for a whale or a giraffe to use to determine where to live (much less to VACATION - heh!)

TOTAL HYPOTHESIS ON MY PART: Citizens in truly stressful states have simply gotten so used to it that they are less likely to report stress over the type of things that those on this "Top 5" list would. There are ways to statistically measure this but THIS "STUDY" is not the way to do that.

Good headline though.

Olga_Kovshanova_MBA_MA
Olga_Kovshanova_MBA_MA

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swagger
swagger

californis is not on the list.  does that mean that the positive beneits of living there are equal to the amount of stress?  that should really be the question--is the stress really worth the benefits? 

ghartoge
ghartoge

What is wrong with stating your own experience? I do not see where these people are claiming to speak for the whole so why not get off your high horse and allow them their opinions?

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

I love reading the comments here from people who make the common fallacy of logic by presuming their own experiences, opinions and insights are all which are experienced by everyone else.  People tend to think they're normal, "just folks", one of a group.  From Romney to Joe the Plumber, even to you sitting there reading this, the fact is you think you're "average" because the vast majority of people don't bother thinking about other people from THEIR perspective - only your own.  And your perspective is almost certainly flawed to begin with.

Cheis, for example, lists all the activities available in West Virginia, with the assertion that she's lived in West Virginia all her life and is "dumbfounded" that people find it stressful because there are so many things to do there.  As if everyone in West Virginia has the time, money, energy or ability to indulge in ANY of them.  And her perspective knows nothing else.  She says she's lived there all her life.

And all of this is based on the erroneous presumption that having things to do will eliminate stress in the first place.  It could be that having too much to do is CAUSING the stress.

Flexy5 is almost spot on: Your personal opinion is not necessarily the majority.  He's a bit off, though.  The fact is, if someone here is arguing that they're NOT stressed out and live in one of these "stressful" states, it IS the majority opinion, but UTTERLY irrelevant to the results of the test.  The nighest number of reported stress was 47% - less than a majority.  But arguing against the results of this survey based ONLY on your opinion is just plain pointless, and belies an appallingly low level of understanding of life, and worse, a completely self-centered, selfish point of view.

Chels_467
Chels_467

I have lived in West Virginia all of my life and I certainly don't find it stressful. It's a great place to live and play. If you enjoy the outdoors then there's something for you. If you enjoy sports then there's something for you. If you enjoy shopping then there's something for you. It doesn't make sense to me. I know economic times are hard, but aren't they for everyone? In every state? I'm just dumbfounded by this.

DonovanTaylor
DonovanTaylor

Kentucky is a great place to live, work and play.  The state likely ranks atop the list for the past five years because Kentuckianas are more than likely to answer truthfully to the question as it relates to the stress on general conditions of life rather than actually feeling stressed. 

Rhomega
Rhomega

Of course Wyoming isn't stressful.  Nobody lives there!

billthegrunt
billthegrunt

I don't think it's the living in West Virginia that's so stressful - it's all the driving to a neighboring state to work and shop. As a resident of a small Virginia city near the border I see the daily commuter exodus firsthand.

I'm also a little perplexed by the author's assumption that because a state is stressful to live in, it's also a bad place to take a vacation. 

Flexy5
Flexy5

FYI everyone: Your personal opinion doesn't equal the majority

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

Hmm...the common themes across those states seem to be exactly zero.  Maybe we need a Freakonomics chapter explaining the linkages.

Lalala
Lalala

Wow..people sure like to pick on West Virginia.  Whatever happened to the idea of that John Denver song that starts off "almost Heaven, West Virginia..."  not so much eh?  I've been to WV and it really is some pretty country out there. From what I hear Hawaii is very expensive and very overrated.

MomWizCom
MomWizCom

"If you want to take that vacation, go to Hawaii. But stay away from West Virginia. . . those two states ranked as the least and most stressful places to live" Yes, but there is a huge difference between living somewhere and vacationing there! I'm sure some folks who live in Hawaii find it stressful to live there (hurricanes, tsnumani warnings, tourists) and many in West Virginia find it an ideal vacation spot for the beautiful scenery and welcoming historic areas. Badly worded, if not badly resourced.

BobSkinner
BobSkinner

“Did you feel stressed during a lot of the day yesterday?”


Can't help, but wonder how well this question was balanced with what happened on any given day compared to what the national or local news was.  If I was asked the day after the Boston Bombing I would feel stressed, but not everyone was asked on the same day.  This could lead to skewed responds.

GalacticCannibal
GalacticCannibal

I would have thought  that West Virginia was a lush green  non-stressful place to live. A top location to grow quality cannabis, and enjoy a puff whilst sitting on your porch relaxing.

JohnJayFoster
JohnJayFoster

Haha...depends on who you are, I'm sure things are a little more stressful for blacks, gays and minorities in Mississippi. Wyoming and Louisiana.

box211
box211

This is nonsensical propaganda.

Gary1969x
Gary1969x

Complete BS, I lived in WV from 1987 to 1995.  Want stress? Trying living in NJ where I was raised or here in Tampa/St Pete dealing with idiotic drivers...

WV was the most relaxing place I ever lived and most of the residence, though not financially well off were happy and  good people.

wabbott
wabbott

RE: West Virginia, it must be the white knuckle driving through the mountains and the stress from being down in the coal mines.

DerekGillespie
DerekGillespie

How is West Virginia the most stressful? We love our state and are proud to live here!

n7specops
n7specops

Plus I've been to Hawaii when I was in Pearl Harbor a few years ago for several months. The entire highway wrapping around Oahu Island had malls and hotels and such up against the side of the road and looked all pretty, but once you go behind those, its crappy apartments, streets littered with trash, prostitutes came out at night as well as the homeless. The other Islands were similar. The people on the beaches and stuff were nice, I even got invited to several luaus by complete strangers and those people weren't rich when I went to their houses, but were happy and the people enjoyed the parties. I think the more materialistic society becomes and the less means they have of buying the latest and greatest, then there is a recipe for stress. 

naomidphillips.29
naomidphillips.29

I live in Louisiana and trust me I wish I would have left ages ago. Its a stressful place to live.

naomidphillips.29
naomidphillips.29

Its actually expensive to live here in Louisiana. A lot millionaires live here. But there is a huge gap between rich and poor here

mahadragon
mahadragon

@Sabrina Hawaii is expensive but definitely not overrated, it's gorgeous over there, I've never seen grass that green anywhere. Pretty much in agreement, W VA can't be that stressful. The last time I was in Maui I talked with the locals and many were working 2 jobs just to survive. If that isn't stressful I don't know what is.

I was born in San Francisco Bay Area so I know about it a bit. If you have a job, life in the Bay Area is tough to beat. It's a great place, even though it's expensive and stressful, the mild climate, super selection of asian foods, and high quality of life make it an incredible place.

Without question, the worst place to live in the U.S. is the south and it has to be the most stressful as well. Mississippi officially abolished slavery in 1995 and officially gave women the right to vote in 1984. A middle school in 2010 couldn’t understand why it was a problem that only white students could run for class President. This kind of mindset prevails throughout Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and others.

When your biggest worry is the color of your skin, by definition, your quality of life isn't great.

Grim
Grim

@GalacticCannibal West Virginia has a great deal of poverty, as does Kentucky, but then Utah has one of the lowest levels and Mississippi has the highest (as of 2009).  It is likely that there are a lot of different social and economic issues at play.  Stress is not just about feeding your family, it is about how you perceive your own level of accomplishment, what threats you think are on the horizon, etc.

Chels_467
Chels_467

@jessie.a.herrera @Chels_467 I guess neither of those things are for you. They were just examples. We have wonderful colleges and universities, gorgeous national parks and landmarks, beautiful scenery and fauna, and a plethora of other things. You're just looking for a reason to complain.