While the blissful state of happiness isn’t a science, several factors can contribute to great life satisfaction—like having a job you love, making a specific amount of money, or living in a place where you can shop in mood-boosting spaces. And, following its analysis of the best states for women’s equality and the healthiest cities in the country, WalletHub’s newest research crowned the happiest (and called out the least happy) of the United States’ 180 largest cities.
Perhaps surprisingly, most of the top five happiest cities aren’t huge cosmopolitan city centers: Fremont, California; Bismarck, North Dakota; San Jose, California; Pearl City, Hawaii; and Plano, Texas.
WalletHub synthesized data from a variety of sources—like the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Feeding America—to analyze 28 key indicators of happiness, including quality of sleep, depression rates, income-growth rates, and daily leisure time. And, perhaps surprisingly, most of the top five happiest cities aren’t huge cosmopolitan city centers: Fremont, California; Bismarck, North Dakota; San Jose, California; Pearl City, Hawaii; and Plano, Texas. The five least happy cities are Little Rock, Arkansas; Gulfport, Mississippi; Huntington, West Virginia; Birmingham, Alabama; and Detroit, Michigan.
The final results aren’t the only data points worth your attention though. For example, zero of the six cities with the lowest reported depression rates—El Paso, Texas, followed by Port St. Lucie, Florida, then New York City and Yonkers in New York, as well as Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey—cracked the list of top happy places. And, IMO, low depression rates are pretty important for measuring how happy a place is.
Furthermore, none of the cities with the best-reported quality of sleep made the top five happiest cities list (though two of the places with the lowest adequate-sleep rate made the bottom five list: Birmingham and Detroit). Considering studies have shown a scientific link between mental health and sleep and lately people are so obsessed with sleep that countless innovations to optimize it have recently hit the market, you may want to consider snoozing in Overland Park, Kansas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Denver, Colorado; or Rapid City, South Dakota—though none of them are top dog in the total happiness rankings.
While this info likely won’t lead you to pick up and move your whole life, you may want to check out whether any of the happiest cities match with the most active cities, because your upcoming spring break road trip shouldn’t mean you need to slack off on your wellness goals.
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