Pity in the city: People who live in big cities reach ‘peak stress’ every 18 days, survey finds

NEW YORK — Life in the concrete jungle isn’t for everyone, but even the common city-dweller can only handle the constant noise and fast-paced lifestyle for so long. A new survey finds that people who live in big cities last just 18 days on average before they find themselves in need of a getaway to calmer confines.

The survey, commissioned by Wyndham Vacation Rentals, polled 1,000 adults residing in American cities with a population of at least one million on their most common city annoyances, as well as their estimates of how many times those annoyances happened to them on a daily or weekly basis. Another 1,000 adults who live in the suburbs were also surveyed.

Researchers found that living in a big city comes with plenty of headaches. In those 18 days, city-dwellers will be bumped into 12 times, miss their bus or train 13 times, feel rushed by a stranger 15 times, and find themselves waiting in 15 long lines.

In general, people who live in the city reach “peak stress” — becoming so fed up with the daily inconveniences of living in an urban area and wish they were away from it all — about 10 times a month on average. That’s compared to seven times a month for those in the suburbs, and just six times for residents in more rural settings.

What else can drive a city resident mad? Those who can’t navigate the sidewalks correctly, for one. In those 18 days before peak stress, they can expect to be stuck behind a prohibitively slow walker 15 times. They’ll also step in 13 puddles, get woken up too early by loud noises outside their windows 16 times, and ride a cramped bus or train 14 times before needing to go on vacation.

Perhaps cookie-cutter suburbia is the way to go. The survey found that city-dwellers are twice as likely to say they are “very stressed” on a typical day than suburban dwellers.

“This study shed an important light on what motivates people to plan an escape and how different daily routines impact vacation planning,” notes Mary Lynn Clark, president at Wyndham Vacation Rentals, in a statement.

Of course, as many New Yorkers will agree, living in the big city means residing in a cramped apartment or home. Sixty-five percent say they don’t have enough space in their homes. And the commute to work? Talk about a drag: city-dwellers spend seven hours a week going to and from work, compared to just four hours for those in the ‘burbs.

All this makes it quite understandable that city folk daydream for 12 hours a month (that’s six full days a year) about being somewhere far more relaxing. It’s no surprise that natural settings are their go-to places for pleasure. The top three spots city-dwellers prefer to de-stress were the beach, the mountains, or a quiet cabin in the woods.

“The survey’s findings also underline a growing trend of people turning to the mountains for a break. The beach is often synonymous with relaxation, but the mountains are becoming an equally attractive haven, especially for those who live in big cities,” says Clark.

Relief doesn’t come right away, however. The survey found even after they’ve arrived at their dream destination, it still takes seven hours before a city-dweller even begins to unwind.


Times bumped into: 12
Long lines waited in: 15
Times just missed bus/train: 13
Times rushed: 15
Times foot stepped on: 13
Times splashed by car: 12
Times caught in rain: 13
Cramped bus/train rides: 14
Bus/train delays: 14
Solicitors encountered: 14
Times nearly hit by car: 12
Times nearly hit by cyclist: 12
Times stuck behind slow walkers: 15
Puddles stepped in: 13
Woken up by city noise: 16
Times can’t find a bathroom: 14
Times sweat through clothes: 17

The survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Wyndham Vacation Rentals in October 2018.

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  1. > people who live in big cities last just 18 days on average before they find themselves in need of a getaway to calmer confines.

    “In need of” is the operative phrase there. How many can actually get away to “calmer confines”. Intrusive noise and vibration is not something that only happens in the big city. Even smaller suburbs are being rebuilt and renovated so frequently these days that there is constant noise and vibration during the day, and then at night there are constant airliner low altitude flyovers that rouse people out of their deep slumber just enough to affect their sleep, but they never realize why of what woke them up because the planes are gone by that time.

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