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The Most Stressful Cities to Buy a Home in the US

By
Updated on January 24, 2024
Written by
G. John Cole
Graeme has been Senior Writer for our parent company (NeoMam Studios) since 2013. His main role at HouseFresh is writing in-depth articles to accompany the original studies and data visualizations produced in partnership with the NeoMam team.

Divorce. Having a baby. Getting married. Studies show that none of these are as stressful as moving home.

Psychoanalyst Ronnie Greenberg calls the home “a matrix of safety”. A roof over your head, a familiar space, a payment structure that you understand (even if it’s a struggle). No matter how much you detest your apartment or how much you love your new place, moving is still a leap into the unknown. If that move also involves buying, you can add massive financial commitment to the mix of feelings you’re going through.

But a new home is also about your environment – and the people with whom you complete the process. That means that home-buying is more stressful in some locations than others. For our new study, HouseFresh used the TensiStrength tool to assess the stress levels of property-themed tweets from every city in the US.

Bangor, Monterey, Newark – Among the Most Stressful Cities to Move in Respective States

First up, here’s a look at the most stressful city to move house in every state. The percentage indicates the proportion of move-related tweets that showed symptoms of stress.

Bangor is the most stressful city to buy a home in Maine – and in fact, the whole of the United States. House prices have soared in Maine over recent months as buyers have flocked to the area for the good life – so much so that folk have been bidding on homes they’ve not yet even visited in an attempt to undercut rivals. 

“[I]t looks to me almost like desperation, where they have to get into a house and they’ll pay anything to get into the house until they are paying above that list value,” says Lisa Caron, NextHome Experience broker. “Winterport and Stockton Springs – we’ve had some that were a sight unseen a lot. And Bangor too – sight unseen.”

Three Florida Cities Among Least Stressful to Buy Home

The list below shows the 10 most and least stressful cities to move, regardless of state. When more than one city per state is included, Illinois and California each have two of America’s most stressful cities in which to buy a home. At the other end of the spectrum, Florida has three of the 10 least stressful cities for property.

The stress scores in the 10 most stressful cities are around 10 times higher than those in the 10 least stressful. Soaring house prices are among the anxiety factors in third-placed Bremerton, WA. “When I moved here to Washington state the average home price was between 100 and $250,000 in 2002,” tweets one local. “Then everybody started moving up here from California and getting greedy buying and then selling homes for 2 to 3 times that value. Homes shouldn’t cost 400+ thousand dollars.”

Chantilly, Virginia has the mellowest movers in America, with a house-buying stress factor of just 2.3%. Of Florida’s three super-chill cities for relocation, Doral is the chillest. In fact, sometimes splurging money on property comes with a lucky surprise: “I’ve paid ridiculous amounts in rent, and in mortgage, and neither of those are a flex,” begins one local. “But buying a house 6 months before the pandemic was a masterstroke of luck because that home has gone up in value by 25-30%.”

Washington is America’s most Stressful State for Relocating

Here are the aggregated stress scores for each state. Most states score a moderate 30-39% for home-buying stress. But Washington leads the way for anxious buyers, with a 42.8% stress rate. “We closed on a house on Monday. Our first,” comes one tweet. “Packing was intense. Moving was intense. The complete loss of structure and routine has wrecked me. All of this feels surreal. But wow. WOW.”

South Dakota is the chillest state to relocate in, by a factor of more than 7% less stress than second-placed Florida. Like other states, property prices are booming. “I’ve been in Sioux Falls since 1993 and haven’t seen a market like the last six months for sure,” says appraiser Brian Schmidt. “I’ve never seen the bidding wars; I’ve never seen the price overlist (like this).” Must be South Dakota’s big sellers who are taking to Twitter, rather than the buyers…

How Not to Stress while Moving Home

Finally, we present our guide on how not to stress when moving home. We cover techniques for house-hunting, negotiating, and preparing to actually get up and go. In short: slow down, don’t panic, but do prepare. With lists, a schedule, and a folder full of research, you’ll feel a lot more ready to take on any curveballs the process throws at you.

And you know what? Tweeting about your home-moving stress might not be the healthiest solution. Instead of your phone screen, try to get out of the house. Go for a walk in the park. Meet a friend who’ll listen to your worries. Ride your bike or take a swim. It’ll keep your body game-fit for moving and it might just bust that stress. 

Picture Your Ideal End-Game

Like other stressful life changes such as divorce and child-rearing, your ultimate goal is happiness. And the good news is that the right move can do wonders for your mental health – once you’ve settled. 

Unfortunately, more than half of us rate the stress of moving as an 8 or more out of 10. And 39% of first-time buyers say the stress of buying made them feel ill. So it’s essential to take deliberate steps to safeguard your mental health as soon as you begin the new home process.

For our full home-buying stress data from every city, please check out the interactive table below.

METHODOLOGY & SOURCES

We built a list of terms related to moving houses and pulled tweets including these terms, using the Twitter API. We used the location of users to identify the city, state and country, and excluded areas outside of the US. We then used the language analysis tool TensiStrength to classify whether a tweet was stressed or not.

The terms we used were:

  • Moving house, moved house, house offer, estate agents, house sale, house bid, house negotiation, first-time buyer, house contract, property lawyer, property solicitor, buying house, bought house, relocating, relocated, house budget, moving. 

We calculated the proportion of stressed tweets for every city and state to create an overall ranking, and reveal the top 10 most and least stressful. We omitted Wyoming from the ‘most stressful city in each state’ results as no city had enough data to extrapolate.

The data was collected in July/August/September 2021. 

About the author

G. John Cole

Graeme has been Senior Writer for our parent company (NeoMam Studios) since 2013. His main role at HouseFresh is writing in-depth articles to accompany the original studies and data visualizations produced in partnership with the NeoMam team.