The Most Stressed City in Kansas Has Been Revealed

Kansas is renowned for its expansive landscapes, amiable residents, and agricultural legacy. However, not all corners of the Sunflower State share the same tranquility. According to a recent study by RoadSnacks, a website that assesses cities based on various criteria, Ulysses, a small town in the southwest corner of Kansas, holds the title of the most miserable city in the state for 2023.

This designation is attributed to Ulysses’ unfavorable scores on stress indicators, including poverty, unemployment, divorce, crime, and health. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the factors that contribute to Ulysses being the most stressed city in Kansas and explore potential avenues for improvement.

Economic Challenges in Ulysses

A primary source of stress for Ulysses residents stems from limited economic opportunities and stability. With a population of 5,812, the town faces a poverty rate of 9.2%, surpassing the state average of 7.9%. The median household income in Ulysses, at $57,500, falls below the state average of $62,087. Unemployment in Ulysses is at 4.1%, exceeding the state average of 3.4%.

Ulysses relies heavily on agriculture, leaving it vulnerable to market fluctuations, weather changes, and demand shifts. The town’s isolation from major urban centers further restricts access to markets, services, and amenities, resulting in elevated living costs, particularly for housing, transportation, and healthcare.

The median home price in Ulysses is $126,600, higher than the state average of $123,900. The average commute time is 17 minutes, longer than the state average of 16 minutes. Healthcare spending per capita in Ulysses is $8,716, exceeding the state average of $7,913.

Social Problems in Ulysses

Social issues, such as high divorce rates, crime, and substance abuse, also contribute significantly to the stress experienced by Ulysses residents. The town’s divorce rate stands at 19%, surpassing the state average of 15%. Ulysses experiences a crime rate of 3,101 per 100,000 people, higher than the state average of 2,580. The violent crime rate in Ulysses is 329 per 100,000 people, exceeding the state average of 258.

Additionally, Ulysses grapples with a notable rate of substance abuse, particularly among its youth. The Kansas Communities That Care Survey indicates that 28% of Ulysses students reported alcohol use in the past 30 days, compared to 19% of Kansas students. Marijuana use was reported by 16% of Ulysses students, compared to 10% of Kansas students. Moreover, 8% of Ulysses students reported using prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription in the past 30 days, compared to 4% of Kansas students.

Potential Solutions for Ulysses

While Ulysses currently bears the title of the most stressed city in Kansas, there exist potential solutions to enhance the quality of life for its residents. Some suggested measures include:

Diversifying the Economy:

  • Attracting new businesses and industries to generate more jobs and income.
  • Investing in education and training programs to enhance workforce skills and employability.
  • Promoting tourism and recreation as potential sources of revenue and growth.

Improving Infrastructure:

  • Enhancing town infrastructure and services, including roads, water, sewer, electricity, internet, and healthcare.
  • Seeking grants and forming partnerships with government entities and organizations to fund improvements.
  • Leveraging natural and cultural assets, such as parks, museums, and historical sites, to enhance livability.

Strengthening the Community:

  • Fostering a sense of belonging and pride among residents.
  • Supporting and expanding community organizations and programs, such as churches, schools, clubs, sports, arts, and events.
  • Encouraging civic participation and volunteerism to foster a culture of responsibility and empowerment, especially among the youth.


While Ulysses currently grapples with economic hardships, social problems, and isolation, it is not a hopeless case. The town has the potential to overcome its stress and transform into a happier and healthier place to live. By diversifying the economy, improving infrastructure, and strengthening the community, Ulysses can pave the way for a brighter future.

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