While career and social opportunities draw millions to the world's major cities, there are also disadvantages to living in high stress urban areas. Results of a study conducted at the University of Heidelberg's Central Institute of Mental Health which were released in June 2011, showed that city dwellers suffer from higher levels of schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses than those who live in quieter environments. Fortunately, there are options for those looking for a relaxing place to settle.
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Coastal U.S. Cities
According to the "Sperling Stress Index", a ranking that identifies the most and least stressful American cities, some of the least stressful cities are to be found near the nation's coasts. Albany, New York for example, boasts low crime and suicide rates as well as shorter average commute times for workers when compared to other U.S. cities. Similar statistics can be found in Orange County, California, which has the added advantage of nice weather year-round.
Farther inland, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area had the highest ranking on a list of the most relaxing American cities published by Forbes Magazine in November 2010. In addition to unemployment rates well below the national average, inhabitants of the area also work out more than other population, with 84 per cent reporting recent exercise. A high percentage of residents also report good general health and medical coverage. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the problem of achieving a work-life balance is reduced as the average work time is 38.4 hours a week, one of the lowest rates in the country. With health and work stress concerns minimised, these cities offer inhabitants relaxing living environments.
While some may dream of strolling the grand boulevards of Paris or of living a stone's throw from the historical monuments of Rome, these major European cities are expensive and present the same stress factors of their American counterparts. On the other hand, the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France and the Le Marche region of Italy offer access to French and Italian culture without the stress of city life and at a fraction of the price. Both regions made the AARP list of best places to retire because of the picturesque landscapes and quiet communities. When not enjoying the heart healthy Mediterranean diet, residents of the two areas can take advantage of the beautiful weather and relax outside.
According to AARP, Costa Rica represents a peaceful oasis for U.S. retirees. The country boasts a temperate climate and breathtaking natural resources while still offering convenient amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants and shopping centres. Costa Rica offers excellent health care and a number of its highly literate inhabitants speak English. But Costa Rica is not only a relaxing place to live for retirees. Because of its inexpensive real estate and safe environment (the country has a stable government and no army), Costa Rica is worth consideration for anyone looking for a tranquil place to settle.
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