September 16, 2019

Can you guess the happiest city in the United States?

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By Mary Daly from Care2

What makes you happy? Is it your family and friends, your pets, your work or your hobbies? What about where you live?

A new study from WalletHub examined how the cities in which we reside can affect how happy we are with our lives. It analyzed 182 of the largest cities in the , drawing on findings from psychology research to come up with 31 happiness indicators. It broke down these indicators across three main categories: emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment. Each indicator scored the cities points, which then were tallied to determine their overall happiness rankings.

Here’s what WalletHub found to be the 10 happiest cities in the United States — as well as the 10 cities that came in last on the list.

10. ,

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge

Credit: Nirian/Getty Images

Coming in 10th place overall on WalletHub’s list was San Francisco. It had a strong showing in the emotional and physical well-being category, taking fourth place. And it came in second in the income and employment category. Within that category, it even claimed the top spot for the highest income growth rate. But San Francisco’s rank in the community and environment category — 125th place — ultimately brought down its overall score.

9. SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

Scottsdale performed better than many of the cities in the emotional and physical well-being category, coming in 46th place. And it almost cracked the top 10 for the income and employment ranking at 13th place. But it was the community and environment category — in which Scottsdale took second place — that really bumped up its overall score. That category included metrics, such as strength of social ties, separation and divorce rate, hate crimes per capita, weather and amount of parkland.

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8. SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

San Jose performed well in the income and employment category, as well as the community and environment category — coming in 18th and 44th respectively. But it really stood out in the emotional and physical well-being ranking, taking first place out of all the cities. That category’s metrics included life satisfaction, depression and suicide rates,adequate sleep rate, physical health, participation in , illness and disability index and life expectancy.

7. GRAND PRAIRIE, TEXAS

Grand Prairie performed fairly well across the board, giving it a score good for seventh place overall. Its best category was community and environment, in which it took sixth place. And it came in 20th in the emotional and physical well-being category. Grand Prairie’s lowest rank was still a respectable 35th place in the income and employment category. That included metrics, such as the income growth rate, poverty rate, job satisfaction, unemployment and underemployment rates and bankruptcy rate.

6. FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA

Fargo also earned quality scores across each category, which put it in sixth place overall. It ranked 20th in income and employment and 24th in community and environment. Fargo’s highest category standing was its 17th-place finish in emotional and physical well-being. And within that category, it took fourth place for the highest adequate sleep rate out of all the cities in the study.

5. HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA

Huntington Beach pier in California

Credit: S. Greg Panosian/Getty Images

Huntington Beach did well in the income and employment ranking (46th place), as well as community and environment (28th place). But it really gained some points with its sixth-place finish in the emotional and physical well-being category. And within that ranking, it claimed the fourth highest spot for its sports participation rate.

4. FREMONT, CALIFORNIA

Fremont has a lot to be happy about. It took 37th in the income and employment category — in which it had the fifth highest income growth rate. And it took 10th place in the emotional and physical well-being category. Plus, it outscored all of the other cities with its first-place finish for community and environment. Within that category, it also came in first for the lowest separation and divorce rate.

3. MADISON, WISCONSIN

Madison also has plenty of joy to go around. Its lowest category rank was still a very commendable 14th place in income and employment. And it took seventh place in the community and environment category. Plus, only two other cities — San Jose and Pearl City, Hawaii — bested Madison in the emotional and physical well-being category, in which it took third. And this helped to boost its overall rank up to third place, as well.

2. IRVINE, CALIFORNIA

Irvine’s overall score just barely beat out Madison’s, sending it to second place. It came in 14th for the emotional and physical well-being category — in which it had the second highest sports participation rate behind Seattle. Plus, it took 11th for income and employment. Irvine’s top category score was fifth place in community and environment. And within that category, it landed in second place behind Fremont for the lowest separation and divorce rate.

1. PLANO, TEXAS

Railcar restored and preserved near Downtown Plano rail station in Plano, Texas

Credit: ulkare/Getty Images

There must be a lot of smiling people in Plano. With its top total score, this Texas city just north of Dallas earned the title of happiest city in the United States for 2019. Within the categories, it took seven place in emotional and physical well-being. And it claimed sixth place in income and employment. Plus, Plano came in eighth for the community and environment ranking — in which it took fourth place for the lowest separation and divorce rate. And all that added up to a solid first-place overall finish.

THE BOTTOM 10 CITIES

Detroit, Michigan, skyline

Credit: pawel.gaul/Getty Images

These are the 10 cities that came in last on WalletHub’s list.

  • 10. Mobile, Alabama
  • 9. Newark, New Jersey
  • 8. Huntington, West Virginia
  • 7. Little Rock, Arkansas
  • 6. Gulfport, Mississippi
  • 5. Cleveland, Ohio
  • 4. Birmingham, Alabama
  • 3. Charleston, West Virginia
  • 2. Toledo, Ohio
  • 1. Detroit, Michigan

Several metrics within the three main categories contributed to these cities’ low overall scores. For the emotional and physical well-being category, Toledo, Huntington and Charleston each had some of the highest depression rates. And Gulfport was one of the cities with a high suicide rate. (Interestingly, in spite of its poor overall performance, Newark actually tied for the fifth lowest depression rate, and it had the third lowest suicide rate.) Furthermore, Toledo, Newark and Detroit had low rates of adequate sleep, and Newark had one of the lowest sports participation rates.

For the income and employment category, Newark and Gulfport had some of the lowest income growth rates. And in the community and environment category, Birmingham, Cleveland and Detroit had some of the highest separation and divorce rates.

Main image credit: MStudioImages/Getty Images

For more on this story go to: https://www.care2.com/greenliving/can-you-guess-the-happiest-city-in-the-united-states.html

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