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Ever wondered where in the country people are happiest? Better yet, what city in your state has the secret sauce for happiness?
Just like where you work and what you do, where you live can have major implications for your quality of live. We set out to find the cities where life is sweetest and the residents have the most to grin about. We found the cities where people make living wages, aren’t wasting their lives away in cars,
The results? Happiness comes in small packages.
The Happiest Cities
- Bloomington, Illinois
- Olathe, Kansas
- Rochester, Minnesota
- Cary, North Carolina
- Appleton, Wisconsin
- Highlands Ranch, Colorado
- Bismarck, North Dakota
- Richardson, Texas
- Redmond, Washington
- Chandler, Arizona
Surprised? Mid-sized towns won out over booming cities. Apparently, happiness needs space to thrive. I guess all those Hallmark movies were on to something.
How We Came Up With This List
We turned happiness into a science and scoured the country to find the cities with all the ingredients for happiness:
- Being well educated (Population with at least a bachelor’s degree)
- Percent of households earning above $75,000
- Median home prices
- A short commute to work (Traffic = unhappiness)
- Having a family (Getting, and staying married, has a ton of happiness benefits, on average)
We examined over 600 cities, to find the cities that have all of the above in spades.
While some may be confused to see marriage rates included in our metrics, studies show that married people are typically happier than unmarried people. However, it is worth noting that marriage doesn’t cause happiness. In fact, people leaving a bad marriage experience spikes of happiness. However, a happy marriage and positive social interactions are important for mood and mental health.
Similarly, if you’re scratching your head to see $75,000 as the cut-off for happiness, blame Purdue University. There study found that was the amount that met basic needs and freed people from the pitfalls of deep financial insecurity.
All of our data comes from the most recent American Community Survey.
Keep reading for more on why each of these 10 places is brimming with happiness—or hop to the bottom to see the happiest city in your state.
1. Bloomington, Illinois
Percent Earning 75k+: 43%
Average Commute: 16
Bloomington, Illinois is the happiest city in the whole country. What makes Bloomington residents so happy? They aren’t wasting their lives on long commutes for one. The average Bloomington resident only drives 16 minutes to work. Toss in affordable housing and the fact that most Bloomington residents are coming home to a loving partner and it’s easy to see the city has a lot going for it.
2. Olathe, Kansas
Percent Earning 75k+: 56%
Average Commute: 22
Sorry Overland, Kansas has a new happiest city and it’s Olathe. At just 21 miles from Kansas City, residents have the affordability of suburban live, with the available excitement and opportunity of a larger city. Residents of Olathe are highly educated, with an impressive 35% having at least a bachelor’s degree. And in this modern day, education means options, and folks in Olathe have plenty of them.
3. Rochester, Minnesota
Percent Earning 75k+: 47%
Average Commute: 17.5
Rochester is the third happiest city in the country and the happiest in the entire state of Minnesota. 52% of Rochester residents come home to a partner to share their life burdens. Bonus? Rochester’s short commutes give them more time to spend with all their loved ones or on hobbies they enjoy.
4. Cary, North Carolina
Percent Earning 75k+: 64%
Average Commute: 23
Cary may only be the 7th largest city in North Carolina, but is number one in happiness. An impressive 64% of Cary households earn $75,000 or more. That means families in Cary can afford peace of mind.
5. Appleton, Wisconsin
Percent Earning 75k+: 40%
Average Commute: 18
Appleton, Wisconsin is the 5th happiest city in the nation. Appleton residents’ moods are kept high by reasonable home prices (the median home price in this Wisconsin city is only $150,000), happy marriages, and short commutes.
6. Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Percent Earning 75k+: 78%
Average Commute: 26
The state of Colorado is booming, with many moving there to enjoy the growing tech scene, beautiful outdoors, and great work life balance. So many flooding into the state head to Denver, but going by the data they should give Highlands Ranch a second look. A staggering 78% of households earn over 75,000. Toss in high marriage rates and reasonable commutes, and it’s easy to see those who call Highlands Ranch home have a lot to be happy about.
7. Bismarck, North Dakota
Percent Earning 75k+: 44%
Average Commute: 18
Bismark, North Dakota is the 7th happiest city in the country. Bismark residents pull in respectable salaries and manage to do it, on average, within 18 minutes of their home. They can use all that extra time saved from a long commute to indulge in hobbies they’re passionate about.
8. Richardson, Texas
Percent Earning 75k+: 57%
Average Commute: 23
Richardson is the affluent inner suburb of Dallas. Rchardson residents are highly educated with good incomes, decent marriage rates, and reasonable commutes. What’s not to be happy about?
9. Redmond, Washington
Percent Earning 75k+: 73%
Average Commute: 24.8
Seattle may be where you go to work in Washington’s largest companies, but Redmond’s where you live for happiness in Washington. While median home value is pretty steep in Redmond (a staggering $825,700!), Redmond residents earn top wages which helps soften the costs. Redmond residents are some of the most educated people in the country– with 39% having a bachelor’s degree.
10. Chandler, Arizona
Percent Earning 75k+: 57%
Average Commute: 24.2
In 10th place is Chandler, Arizona. Not only is Chandler the happiest city in Arizona, it is also home to a growing population of millennials. Maybe they’re hoping happiness is contagious?
There you have it, happiness is a place
Turns out, the happiest cities in America are mid-sized, with many being suburbs of large nearby cities.
While we can’t guarantee everyone living and working in the top 10 cities is happy, they have a better chance the most.
If you are looking to improve your own happiness, check out how you can help improve your personal factors: housing costs, job satisfaction, income, and education. If your city and state didn’t make the top 10, check out the list below to see where in your state people are the happiest.
The Happiest City In Every State
|South Dakota||Sioux Falls|
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