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What’s the Best Place to Live? It May Depend on Your Personality

Why you’ll thrive in some neighborhoods (and feel miserable in others)

(C.J. Burton/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

On the move? Don’t forget packing tape, boxes...and a personality test. According to new research, your personality type could help you find the best place to live. As the Atlantic’s CityLab reports, a new study shows how different personality types cluster in cities and how neighborhoods impact life satisfaction. 

Intrigued by the idea that a good match between personality traits and neighborhood characteristics can influence how happy people are with their lives, an international team of psychologists collaborated on a study of the intersection of personality and location in London. The study mapped 56,000 Londoners’ locations along with the results of a five-factor personality test measuring agreeableness, neuroticism (or lack thereof), conscientiousness, openness to experience and extraversion.

They found that different neighborhoods tend to attract different personality types. For example, dynamic and busy areas like central London’s Kings Cross attracted clusters of people who scored high on openness to experience, but low on conscientiousness. Diverse, high-paced and dense areas tended to attract extraverts, while suburbs appealed more to people who scored high on conscientiousness and agreeableness. 

The study also looked at happiness levels, correlating them to postal code and personality traits. It underscored a strong link between extraversion and happiness, independent of location. But it also found that people who live in areas known for lower levels of life satisfaction are happier if they possess agreeable or conscientious personalities—traits that might help people adapt even in less desirable neighborhoods. 

So which comes first: personality or neighborhood? It’s still unclear how neighborhoods shape our personalities (or vice-versa). But by mapping how personalities cluster in different environments, the research underscores that our unique traits help shape the places we call home. 

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