Why your happiness depends on living next to as much green space as you possibly can

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It’s good to be green: new research has found that living within walking distance to urban green space is associated with improved feelings of happiness, self-worth, and life satisfaction. So choose your next apartment wisely.

Researchers from The University of Warwick, Newcastle University, and The University of Sheffield have put together the first-ever study that demonstrated the association between nature and green areas and individual mental wellbeing. The findings were published in the journal Applied Geography.

One major discovery that pertains to mental health: living close to natural green spaces is more important to your mental health than how much money you make, employment, and overall health.

“We believe this it is the first study to demonstrate how urban green spaces may improve a broader definition of mental wellbeing,” said Dr. Victoria Houlden in a release.

The grass is always greener

To determine that living near greenery has striking benefits on the individual, researchers used data from 25,518 people to find the exact distance that Londoners needed to live near green space in order to have significantly better mental wellbeing.

Ultimately, the sweet spot was green spaces within 300 meters (about .18 of a mile) of a person’s home. That distance was determined to have the biggest effect on an individual’s wellbeing.

And the bigger, the better: an increase of just under 2.5 acres of greenery within 300 meters of a person’s home was linked with an 8% increase in life satisfaction, a 7% increase in self-worth, and a 5% increase in happiness.

“This is the first study to provide concrete evidence of how urban greenspaces may improve mental wellbeing in the broadest sense, and should therefore lead to healthier, happier and more productive urban landscapes in the future,” said Professor Stephen A. Jarvis, Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Urban Science at the University of Warwick.

The study’s authors hope that their findings will be looked at by city planners and policymakers when taking into account the creation of future urban green spaces.

“This result has important implications for urban planning and decision making related to how we measure access to urban green spaces and how to design more sustainable and liveable cities,” explained Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, director of the University of Warwick’s Institute of Global Sustainable Development.