The Happiest Homes in America
Over the past year, the pandemic has strained our mental health in unprecedented ways, while threatening lives, decimating parts of the economy, and upending nearly everyone’s routines and plans. During this time, Americans have spent more time in their homes than ever before.
This raises important questions: To what extent do our homes impact our mental health and wellness? And if they do, in what ways are they most supportive or unsupportive?
We recently surveyed 2,888 Americans in 24 major American cities, to learn more about the connection between homes and wellness. We asked people about 25 characteristics of their experience in and around their homes, all of which could correlate with mental health. These characteristics fall into five categories:
- Connection to nature
- Support of body
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Are you surprised how much our homes can support mental health? We were too! It can be quite a balancing act, keeping certain things out (noise, clutter), letting other things in (sunlight, views of trees), decorating, moving, connecting, and supporting all kinds of healthy habits, like getting lots of sleep and exercising regularly.
Looking at characteristics that are most universal, having a view of trees, water, or natural elements is number one. That’s great news considering most of our respondents are city dwellers—it means very few are totally lost in a concrete jungle.
Most people also reported having a nice mattress and the ability to keep their bedroom cool at night, both of which are essential to good sleep hygiene. That said, nearly as many people keep TVs and phones in their bedroom, both of which emit significant amounts of blue light, which is known to be disruptive to sleep cycles.
Looking at the 24 biggest cities in the US, those in the Sun Belt definitely outperformed more northern cities, likely helped by less population density, which means more space and less noise!
But it’s not just about density. The cities with the three highest scores on our Happy Homes scale—Houston, Miami and Charlotte—each were in the top five in the “comfort” category, which includes having pets, good relationships with neighbors, and living with people who aren’t stressful to be around.
On the flip side, Pennsylvania had a very weak showing, with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia each receiving “F” ratings, and landing near the bottom of the list, with only New York scoring worse. Both cities scored poorly in the “support of body” and “connection to nature” categories.
In addition to scoring cities on our all-encompassing Happy Homes scale, we looked at performance within the five different sub-categories. We found in the northwest that Portland is best prepared for sleep and Seattle for relaxation. On the opposite end of the country, in Florida, the city of Jacksonville leads for connection to nature and Miami leads for comfort. And the leader for support of the body is our fourth-largest metropolis, the great Houston, Texas.
From March 29 - April 9, we surveyed 2,888 Americans, including 50 to 150 residents in each of 24 major American cities. Forty-seven percent of our respondents were female and 53 percent male, with an average age of 38 years old and an age range of 18 to 70 years old.
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