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The 20 Most Miserable Cities in Europe

Moscow, Russia

The world has descended into turmoil with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It's made life difficult for almost everyone with changes in our lifestyles, fear of the unknown, sickness, death, and depressed economics. Other factors that influence the perceived and real quality of life include unemployment and inflation, contributing to the overall misery of life for people in some sectors of society. We looked at the European front and found that several countries have a high misery score for their citizens. England, Italy, Spain, and France report some of the most miserable living conditions for some people. We first looked at the most miserable countries then broke it down into the cities with the largest concentrations of sad residents. The European Commission Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General issued a report that highlights some of the most depressed and unwell cities in the EU. They cited high numbers of mental health diagnoses among their citizens. The numbers are sobering. Here are the twenty most miserable cities in Europe. We've included the reasons why the quality of life is currently taking a downturn.

Nottingham, England

20. Nottingham, England

According to Somerset, Nottingham is among the top five cities in England with people experiencing extreme stress. The reason is due to the impact of the pandemic and list effects on their jobs. Secure employment is an ongoing problem in the city without a pandemic. Nottingham is one of the most miserable cities in England and Europe because of the high-stress levels among residents and their inability to maintain secure employment.

Brighton, England

19. Brighton, England

Some residents of Brighton participated in a survey to assess their stress levels and degree of happiness. Fifty percent of the respondents reported feeling some degree of pressure and stress. They feel miserable because of the current economic situation in the city. It's getting more difficult for older residents to find part-time to full-time jobs. Those who are employed worry about becoming sick when working with the public during a worldwide pandemic. These factors combine to make Brighton one of Europe's most miserable cities.

Dudley, England

18. Dudley, England

Dudley is a miserable place to live because it has a low happiness index score. It falls below Nottingham with a score of 7.0. Wales Online lists it as the saddest town in England. The reasons include scores of elderly who feel lonely and secluded. A lack of human companionship is an ongoing problem among this segment of the population. The ongoing pandemic is only one of the reasons for the documented rise in unhappiness.

Bristol, England

17. Bristol, England

Fifty percent of the people surveyed in Bristol claim that they feel miserable because of the current economic circumstances and pervasive health concerns due to the pandemic. These are the top two factors that are making Bristol one of the most miserable cities in Europe. Residents have little to do for fun and little money to spend on the limited activities available for public interaction.

Liverpool, England

16. Liverpool, England

Liverpool has a high rate of stressed-out residents. Respondents to the same survey reported a higher level of stress and worry. It's a city hard hit by the pandemic with health services stretched to their limits. Those who need regular healthcare have trouble obtaining it. Their health concerns get put on hold due to the numerous Covid-19 cases flooding into healthcare facilities. Seventy-five percent of respondents say that job stress has taken a toll on their mental health and happiness levels.

Madrid, Spain

15. Madrid, Spain

Idealista reports that Spaniards highly value cleanliness in their city streets. A few cities in Spain excel in maintaining clean and sanitary living conditions, but others fall short. Madrid is listed as one of the most miserable cities in Europe to live for those who demand living in clean and orderly neighborhoods.

Alicante, Spain

14. Alicante, Spain

Alicante is a city that could do a lot better with its waste management systems and street cleanliness. Even though the town's residents would like to see change, not everyone holds these values equally. Those with poor hygiene habits contribute to the problem of garbage in the streets. It's even worse for having dirty streets than Madrid. It's miserable to live under the dirty condition where it's not safe or healthy for children to play outdoors because of the poor waste management systems.

Palma, Spain

13. Palma, Spain

Palma, Spain is one of the most miserable cities in Spain, if you're parents raising school or university-age children. While Vigo, Zaragoza, and Bilbao rank among the top-rated cities for educational opportunities, Palma has the worst rating in Spain. People who live in Palma have few educational options. It's one of the factors that make this city a miserable place to live.

Barcelona, Spain

12. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of the worst places in Spain if you value environmental quality and clean air. While Bilbao, Zaragoza, and Vigo boast the best air quality in Spain, Barcelona and Madrid tie for the worst two cities in all of Spain. Pollution is one of the biggest factors that makes Barcelona a miserable place for those with allergies or respiratory problems to live. It has some of the most terrible air quality scores of all the major urban areas of Spain.

Catalan, Spain

11. Catalan, Spain

People who live in Catalan also know that they're in one of the least safe cities in the country. It's not much fun to live under conditions that put you at a higher risk of becoming the victim of a crime. Catalan is one of the most unsafe places to live for its citizens. The fear of crime puts it up high on the misery factor and qualifies the city for inclusion in our list of the 20 most miserable cities in Europe.

Rome, Italy

10. Rome, Italy

The Local lists Rome as one of the worst cities in the world to live in. It has received low scores because of its work-to-life balance, a weak economy, and great difficulty in achieving career advancements. Three-quarters of the people surveyed are dissatisfied with the local economy and their career opportunities. Housing is sparse and not affordable, and the public transportation system needs improving. Two thousand Romans surveyed shared their concerns that the quality of life is on a downward spiral from where it sat just five years ago. Air quality, the cost of healthy foods, and life expectancy are also concerns of the residents.

Milan, Italy

9. Milan, Italy

Milan is a miserable place to live unless you're wealthy. The cost of living is so high in this city that it's hard for the average citizen to make ends meet. With the recent pandemic taking a toll on the healthcare system, it's a frightening place to live if you have any medical condition because it's hard to obtain even the most basic health services with the continuing increase of hospitalizations due to Covid. It's hard to find quality healthcare for non-life-threatening conditions. If you manage to get in for an appointment, it's a place to become exposed to illness with so many affected by Covid.

Naples, Italy

8. Naples, Italy

According to Business Insider, Naples is one of the most miserable places to live and it's not a place that is high on the list of destinations for travelers either. We learned that Naples has long been a dumping ground for toxic waste. The environment is polluted. Not only is trash dumped in the streets, but for decades, it has been the destination of toxic nuclear waste. It's not a good place to live. People who reside there live in fear of developing a life-threatening illness, and many already have due to the toxic environment.

Florence, Italy

7. Florence, Italy

The World Health Organization has listed Florence as one of the unhealthiest places to live in Europe. The quality of the air in Florence is affected by pollution. PM10 has for decades contributed to a rise in respiratory illnesses and higher mortality rates for residents of the city. This city is a miserable place to live for people with respiratory problems. It's got to be tough knowing that you can also shorten your life if you spend years living there.

Genoa, Italy

6. Genoa, Italy

Genoa is a city that the World Health Organization lists as one of the most unhealthy environments. Hospital admissions, higher bronchitis rates, and a higher mortality rate because of air pollution are listed as realities for the citizens of Genoa. Years of continued exposure erode the respiratory health of residents.

Turin, Italy

5. Turin, Italy

Italy is a country that has more than its share of unhealthy cities. If it's not the economy bringing about misery, it's the poor air quality or lack of good waste management services. Turin is yet another Italian city listed as dangerous because of air pollution by the World Health Organization. More incidences of adverse health outcomes due to air pollution are reported for Turin's residents.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I AM Expat lists Amsterdam as one of the most miserable cities to live in The Netherlands. The city has the ranking of the most dangerous city in The Netherlands. An explosive crime rate makes it unsafe just to walk down the streets by yourself. The incidences of violent crimes, thefts, and robberies are high in Amsterdam. It would be miserable to live your life on guard for criminals. It's depressing to work hard to obtain the things you need in life, only to have them stolen or vandalized when you're at work. This is one of the greatest disadvantages for the people who live in Amsterdam.

Athens, Greece

3. Athens, Greece

Greek Reporter lists Athens as one of the worst places in the country to live for drivers. It takes the prize when it comes to charging high fees for parking, taxes, and fuel. Athenians' life quality is diminished by high transportation costs. Enjoying the other amenities but remains a contention for citizens. The overall safety of the roads also gets a poor rating with multiple fatalities and road rage incidents reported. This is one of the reasons why taxi services are so expensive in the city. Residents of Athens are not happy with the current transportation problems in the area and it's miserable whether you use public transportation or attempt to operate your vehicle. It contributes to the overall misery experienced in the city.

Marseille, France

2. Marseille, France lists Marseille, France as one of the worst places in Europe to live. Located in the southern region of France, the city is one of the countries largest trading ports and a major hub for economic activity. As such, it has also attracted its share of criminals who make their living by preying on the vulnerable. The incidences of pickpocketing, mugging, and other types of petty theft are higher in Marseille than in any other large city in France. The crime rate is high and the number of police officers is low. This issue exists because of the low investment in law enforcement due to inequality and corruption.

Moscow, Russia

1. Moscow, Russia

Moscow is Russia's capital city. The city is the home of 12.2 million citizens and it serves as one of Europe's cultural centers. Although it is a popular tourist destination, the number of crimes committed in the city is frightening. It's a miserable place to live because there are numerous robberies, car thefts, and violent crimes that occur regularly. Everyone who lives there knows that it's a dangerous place to live and this helps to contribute to feelings of fear and depression. The high crime rate in Moscow makes this one of the most miserable places in all of Europe to live.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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