Life in a big city can be stressful, there’s no doubt about it. Thousands, sometimes even millions of people going about their business, seemingly at one hundred miles per hour, the concrete jungle, crime, and traffic jams as far as the eye can see, it can be a lot for some people.
With the rising popularity in CBD gummies and legality of Cannabis coming into the spotlight recently, Nature and Bloom thought they’d look at what makes up the most ‘Chilled out cities’ in the US.
But not all of America’s major cities were made equal in this regard, with some being veritable oases of calm in comparison to the most hectic. By looking at several metrics, ranging from population density and acres of parkland per 1000 residents, to traffic congestion levels an dispensaries per 100,000 across America’s thirty biggest cities, we have crowned the very best of the United States metropolis’s to live in if you prefer the quieter pace of life.
The results were more than a little bit interesting:
America’s Top 5 Most Chilled Cities
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
Americans won’t be surprised to see Denver, San Diego, and Portland in the top 5, three cities with have long enjoyed reputations for being comparatively laid back and liberal in their attitudes.
Cannabis, for example, has been legal in all three cities for some years, and Denver in particular ranked well in this regard, with the most dispensaries per capita at 9.8 per 100,000 people. Otherwise, the cities ranked well, if not remarkably well, across the rest of the categories, which was enough to see them claim a place in the top five.
Jacksonville, in fifth place, has its astonishing amount of parkland per 1000 residents, at 89.8 acres, as well as its low population density, to thank.
The real surprise is Las Vegas, which it is safe to say has never enjoyed much of a reputation for being a relaxed city. For decades, the stereotype associated with Las Vegas has been late nights, bright lights, and everything done to excess.
But away from the strip, there is much to be said in favor of the city as a chilled-out place to live. In particular, Las Vegas blew away the competition in terms of spas and wellness centers, with a whopping 34.3 per 100,000 residents, more than twice that of the next closest competitor.
Beyond this, Las Vegas owes its place at the top of the pile to scoring well, but not outstandingly, across the remaining metrics- notably, the city has 24.7 parkland acres per 1000 people as well as 4 dispensaries per 100,000.
America’s Least Chilled Major Cities
- New York City
- San Antonio
There’s an important caveat at here, and that’s that we were only able to look at data from America’s thirty most populated cities in this report- any more and we were unable to get consistent data for all cities, which was necessary for a fair comparison. It’s for this reason that Indianapolis had to be removed from the study, because data for parkland acres per 1000 people was unavailable.
It’s no surprise to see America’s largest city in the bottom five, with population density off the charts and traffic that would drive most drivers in the country insane. Surprisingly, though, while New Yor City has its fair share of crime problems, it actually scored best in that metric, with just 1448.59 per 100,000 people.
The dubious honour of the city with the most crime per 100,000 residents went to Memphis, which also took the bottom spot overall, at 6297.83 crimes reported per 100,000 people.
ombined with a poor performance in relation to cannabis legality, and it’s easy to see why Memphis is a less than chilled city, despite a relatively low population density, a reasonable amount of parkland, and below average congestion levels. Like Memphis, Milwaukee, Houston, and San Antonio also find themselves in the bottom five due to Texas and Wisconsin’s hard line against cannabis.
I know what you’re thinking- how did we arrive at these results? How on earth did Las Vegas emerge as America’s most chilled city? It’s a fair question, so let us walk you through why we chose the metrics we did, and how we used them.
- Population Density- This metric is pretty self-explanatory- studies have shown that living in densely populated urban areas can have a whole range ofg negative mental health impacts, from reducing average happiness levels to increasing anxiety levels and feelings of loneliness. It’s no surprise- a less densely populated city will naturally enjoy a slower pace of life versus one where the same amount of people are crammed into a significantly smaller area.
- ‘Cannabis Legality Score’– Though not everyone will agree with this metric, it’s been proven that cannabis products can effectively relieve the symptoms of anxiety in many people, though it’s true that overuse can cause the reverse issue. Still, according to Healthline, improved relaxation, increased sense of calm, and better sleep are commonly reported benefits of cannabis use. We also felt that a city where cannabis was recreationaly legal was taking a more ‘relaxed approach’ to the drug. ‘Cannabis legality score’ is a metric we used to assign a numeric value to the legality of cannabis in each city- 100 represents recreational legality, 0 represents complete illegality, and 25 points are assigned for decriminalization, CBD legality, and medical legality respectively.
- No. of Dispensaries Per 100,000– As above. If you accept that cannabis legality is a desirable trait in a chilled out city, it stands to reason that the more dispensary options as a proportion of the population, the better.
- Crime Rate Per 100,000- Another pretty straightforward one, as I think we’d all agree that a city plagued by high crime rates couldn’t be accurately described as chilled out. After all, how can you relax if you’re aware that in your city you’re statistically more likely to be victim of a crime, perhaps violent, that in much of the rest of the country?
- Parkland Acres Per 1,000- Green spaces are good for our mental wellbeing, and residents of cities with more green space report being happier and more relaxed than lose that live in veritable concrete jungles. The more parkland in a city, the more space to escape into nature for a while, find a spot to chill, or even get some mood-boosting exercise.
- No. Spas Per 100,000- If you’re going to live in a big city, we thought it stood to reason that having spas and wellness centers to retreat to for a little R&R every now and then would make it a more chilled out place to live. The more spas per 100,000 people, the better! This wasn’t freely available data, so we used Tripadvisor listings for spas and wellness centers in each city to arrive at the total number, and from there used the population data to work out the number per 100,000 residents.
- Traffic Congestion Level- Nothing says the opposite of chilled out like road rage, and nothing causes road rage like hours of traffic jams. We used Tom Tom’s most recent (2021) yearly data for the congestion level in each city, which calculates how much longer a given journey will take as opposed to the same journey in non-congested conditions. So, if a city has an average congestion level of 20%, that means the average journey will take 20% longer than if there were no traffic at all.
- Population & population density statistics- https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities
- Congestion Level- https://www.tomtom.com/traffic-index/ranking/?country=US
- Number of Spas per 100,000 https://www.tripadvisor.com/
- Parkland acres per 1,000 people- Trust for Public Land 2022 City Park Statistics https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZlJPehaRE6VR80LcI5gUXOKuKkYq-AnX/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=106391383505697931983&rtpof=true&sd=true
- Crimes Per 100,000- Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports statistics from 2019 via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_crime_rate
- Dispensaries per Capita https://www.realestatewitch.com/best-weed-cities-2022/#best-weed-cities