Tuesday, September 08, 2009

America’s Most Stressful Cities and One That’s Not

Forbes ranks America’s most stressful cities. I’ve lived in several cities on the list: Houston, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and was born in one—Washington D.C. However, I am presently located in Chicagoland—Chicago being the most stressful of all. I can agree that driving on the expressways when necessary is stressful. I try to take Metra when I go into the city. Paying through the nose to park a car only adds insult to injury.

While I love all that Chicago has to offer after you get there, I have settled in the far west hinderlands of Chicagoland. Batavia to be specific, which is ironically the only Illinois city to make Money Magazine’s list of America’s best small towns. Ranked at number 56, my little slice of Chicagoland is a stark contrast to the big-city buzz.

Here in Batavia, the biggest thing going on a Friday night is the local Batavia High School Bulldogs game—a real Friday Nights Lights just down the street from me. Life here is simpler—farmers market on Saturday, volunteer fair at the library, arts shows, bikers up the wazoo (we are on the bike trail along the Fox River). My bank, cleaners, insurance agent, hair salon, favorite coffee shop, drugstore, and the library are all within a mile or walking distance of my place. That cuts down on stress for sure. Batavia calls itself the City of Energy and the local landscape is dotted with windmills, an omage to its once booming windmill manufacturing status.

So, let Oprah Winfrey celebrate Chicago this week as well as celebrate her 24th year in TV with what the Chicago media has dubbed Oprahpalooza as she takes over three blocks of Michigan Avenue for her show, throwing even more stress onto the shoulders of commuters. It’s okay. This is the City of Big Shoulders afterall, but I think I’ll stick to my little corner of the world.


Marion said...

Batavia suits you, I think. Close enough to the Big City lights, yet a small village feel. I like your description of the place...it feels warm and welcoming. I'm glad you like it, Sheila.

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