10.  Memphis, TN

stressed cities
  • Population: 1.3 million
  • Zen factor: Short commutes
  • Stress factor: High crime

There can be a lot to sing the blues about in Memphis.

Crime is rampant here, with a murder rate that trails only Detroit and New Orleans.

"There are many areas of the city in which gunfire is just as prevalent as the birds singing," said Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton.

Around 20% of the metro area's residents live below the poverty line.

Wharton, who spent decades as a public defender, said the high crime and poverty can cause a variety of stressful situations, from a mother scrambling for bail money for an arrested son to someone stressing about paying medical bills.

"I think Forrest Gump could see that those are not ideal living conditions," he said. "They are real stressors."

Yet the city is trying to fight back, with efforts that include the filing of legal injunctions against gang members and an ambitious anti-poverty campaign.

First published July 15, 2014: 8:35 AM ET
Source: See sourcing and methodology here.
Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area

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