Are we depressed because we don’t have a ‘third place’?

Some of us might, but it realistically depends on where you live, your financial access to third places and how much time you have at the end of a busy workday. 

“When you think about places that facilitate social interaction and also relaxation, you think of public parks, forests, beaches, community centres, or social clubs like book clubs or bird watching,” says Dober. “Often, these spaces depend on what infrastructure you have in your suburbs or cities — so many people don’t have these options.”

Dr. Narae Lee, a postdoctoral scholar at the Population Research Institute of The Pennsylvania State University, has studied the relationship between our environment and our well-being, and the impact of third places.

“One of the important features of ‘third places’ is social contact, either directly or indirectly,” Lee told Today“In third places, you can enjoy direct social interaction with other people by chatting and enjoying activities with them.”

Considering we’ve just come out of a global pandemic, are dealing with a cost-of-living crisis and hundreds of thousands of millennials moved to regional Australia during the last census period, a lot of us simply don’t have a third place.

Dober argues the layout of cities is another factor why we’re not getting our daily dose of socialising in a neutral space like the generations before us. 

“Urbanisation and urban sprawl with poor city design have led to the demise of third places for many people,” she tells Mamamia. “Australia is also a very car dependant city, in which you aren’t able to walk comfortably to many third places you’d like to visit because they’re too far away, or you have to pay to access many third places because government funding has changed and they’ve now been privatised.