Home / News / Gloomiest Places in America

Gloomiest Places in America


As we near the winter months, some areas of the country are affected by the changing seasons more than others. We’ve determined the Gloomiest Places in America, and the Pacific Northwest won’t be happy about it.

 

Topping our list at #1 and #2 are Seattle and Portland - both famous for their coffee shops and the '90s “grunge” music genre that reflects this oft-oppressive feeling of Gloom.

Of the 50 largest metro areas, the top 10 Gloomiest Places are:

Metro areaGloom ScorePopulation
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA90.903,735,216
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA88.202,382,037
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY88.031,136,670
Cleveland-Elyria, OH83.722,062,764
Pittsburgh, PA80.172,348,143
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI78.034,304,613
Columbus, OH70.602,023,695
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI70.251,575,101
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI68.009,549,229
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH67.804,771,936

The data team at BestPlaces.net determined each metro area’s Gloom Score by looking at three key environmental factors for the months of November, December, and January:

  • Percentage of Cloud Cover
  • Average Hours of Daylight
  • Days with Precipitation

Also in the top 10 - Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and upstate New York can be bitterly cold and cloudy in the winter. As such, the list of Gloomy Places doesn’t hold too many surprises.

Alaska might come to mind as a gloomy place, and indeed the country’s gloomiest counties are in that state. But those parts of Alaska (e.g. Juneau and Ketchikan) weren’t included in this study because they’re not in the 50 largest metro areas. Furthermore, some smaller metro areas like Fairbanks actually have less cloud cover in these months than one might expect.

The Danish concept of “Hygge” means making the most of these times of year by being cozy and partaking in activities that elevate mood - such as reading books, lighting candles, and playing board games with friends and family. For more on “Hygge” read our list of Top Hygge Cities.

If you live in a Gloomy Place you may be at risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), symptoms of which include feeling down, having low energy, and disruption of your sleep patterns. Although the specific cause of SAD remains unknown, reduced levels of sunlight can disrupt your circadian rhythms, reduce serotonin, and affect melatonin levels.

Therefore, it’s important to take active steps to counteract these tendencies.  Exercise, healthy eating, light therapy, and regular social interaction are some of the basics. It’s normal to have “down” days, but if you have extended periods like this you should see your doctor.

Looking at the full ranking below, it’s not surprising to see famously bright places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles coming up as the Least Gloomy Places. Oklahoma City and New Orleans are a bit unexpected, but maybe now they’ll find their way onto people’s lists when it’s time to beat the winter blues.

Here’s the full list of the largest 50 metro areas ranked from Most Gloomy to Least Gloomy:

Metro areaGloom ScorePopulation
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA90.903,735,216
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA88.202,382,037
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY88.031,136,670
Cleveland-Elyria, OH83.722,062,764
Pittsburgh, PA80.172,348,143
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI78.034,304,613
Columbus, OH70.602,023,695
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI70.251,575,101
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI68.009,549,229
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH67.804,771,936
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN66.781,989,032
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT65.881,213,123
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN65.502,156,723
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA64.871,613,154
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA64.3820,192,042
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD62.736,065,644
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN62.701,278,203
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI61.593,526,149
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD60.272,792,050
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV57.806,090,196
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN56.471,830,410
St. Louis, MO-IL54.592,804,998
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA53.134,641,820
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC52.851,717,708
Salt Lake City, UT52.511,170,057
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA52.432,268,005
Richmond, VA52.291,270,158
Memphis, TN-MS-AR51.921,344,058
Raleigh, NC49.311,273,985
Birmingham-Hoover, AL48.451,144,097
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA48.215,700,990
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA47.641,969,897
Kansas City, MO-KS47.582,088,830
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC47.302,427,024
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX44.966,636,208
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO43.742,798,684
Jacksonville, FL42.481,447,884
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL42.436,019,790
New Orleans-Metairie, LA42.281,260,660
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL38.642,390,859
Austin-Round Rock, TX38.012,000,590
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX36.237,104,415
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL35.992,978,209
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX35.872,377,507
Oklahoma City, OK35.611,353,504
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA30.393,283,665
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA28.2413,261,538
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA27.004,476,222
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV24.632,112,436
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ22.434,561,038

 

NEWS BY CATEGORY

SEARCH & BROWSE

COMPARE COST OF LIVING
What is your annual income?


PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION

Includes Cost of Living compares for child care, utilities, transportation, health, taxes, housing for home owners vs renters, weather, insurance premiums and so much more.

Try Now

Join BestPlaces