9.  Atlanta

stressed cities
9
  • Population: 5.4 million
  • Zen factor: Low cost of living
  • Stress factor: Heavy traffic

If long work days combined with a headache-inducing commute sounds like the ultimate stressful day, then Atlanta might not be the place for you.

The sprawling city has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country, with the average commuter on the road an hour every day.

"Atlantans wear it like a badge. Traffic is a systemic problem in the Atlanta region," said Brian Carr, director of communications at the Clean Air Campaign, a nonprofit that offers programs to encourage commuters to switch to carpooling, public transit and other options.

The Atlanta Regional Commission, a regional planning agency for the area, said that the heavy traffic is in part tied to the area's population growth. It said there are plans to add 54 miles of new lanes to the interstate system, expand alternative commuter programs and offer incentives to encourage the development of walkable communities.

Some other bright spots: Residents enjoy a cost of living that is more affordable than most of the other metro areas, fueled by below-average home prices. They are also less likely to be binge drinkers or smokers, according to the CDC.

First published July 15, 2014: 8:35 AM ET
Source: See sourcing and methodology here.
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA Metro Area

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