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Stressed? Website Says That’s a Santa Monica Thing

Phil Brock For Council 2014

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

July 15, 2014 -- Nearly three months after the blog section of the real estate website Movoto called Santa Monica one of the 25 most dangerous suburbs in the country, the site has placed this city at No. 2 on a list of “The 10 Most Stressed Out Suburbs In America.”

High population density and cost of living as well as a large percentage of residents' income going toward rent were factors in Santa Monica’s ranking, list author Laura Allan wrote.

“Locals spend a total of 39 percent of their income on rent, which leaves little left over for that very high cost of living,” Allan wrote. “This is definitely a place that could cling to the slogan ‘The rent is too damn high.’”

The list was determined through a formula factoring eight criteria, Allan wrote. The criteria are commute time, unemployment rate, crime rate, cost of living, average hours worked per person, population density, divorce percentage and percent of income spent on rent.

Sunshine is not much of a stress reliever, at least in the eyes of Movoto’s staff. The majority of the top 10 includes places in California (No. 6 Signal Hill, No. 7 Inglewood and No. 8 Lomita) and Florida (No. 1 Miami Beach, No. 4 Neptune Beach, No. 5 Atlantic Beach and No. 9 Jacksonville Beach).

Also included on the list are No. 3 Mount Vernon, N.Y. and No. 9 Alexandria, Va., which is tied with Jacksonville Beach.

Some people might be surprised to find Santa Monica on this list because they do not feel their lives are extremely stressful, but also because they do not consider this city to be a suburb. Allan noted people might be wondering about this designation for Santa Monica as well as others on the list.

“We considered any large population center near one of the nation’s 50 largest cities a suburb, but we also factored in whether or not the place was denoted as a suburb on Wikipedia, in the list of inner-ring suburbs, or in any official capacity,” she wrote.

Movoto’s list could come in handy for City officials, who are currently determining a method to measure residents' overall happiness. Santa Monica earned a $1 million grant last year to develop an index that will gauge residents' well-being (“Santa Monica Wins $1 Million Bloomberg Prize,” March 13, 2013).

The City hired a project manager and is working with the RAND Corp. and the United Kingdom’s New Economics Foundation on the project (“Santa Monica Gets Happy,” March 26, 2014). The index is expected to be determined this year.

“We’re at the forefront of translating wellbeing research and science into practical application at the local level, and we’ve learned a lot along the way,” said Julie Rusk, Santa Monica's assistant director of community and cultural services, in March.

While learning that Santa Monica is a highly stressed and dangerous city, at least according to Movoto, might lead to more local stress, the website also has good things to say about the community. Earlier this year, Movoto ranked Santa Monica as the fifth-most “exciting” suburb in the country. Nothing to stress about there. 

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