Here Are the Happiest Cities in America

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Is California truly golden? And is Motown really singing the blues? Except for Sioux Falls, SD and Washington, the top 10 happiest cities in the U.S. all are in California.

Meanwhile, Anchorage, Alaska has the highest suicide rate, more than five times that of the city with the lowest suicide rate: Brownsville, Texas. The least happy place in the U.S., in dead last of 150 cities ranked? Detroit.

That’s according to a new report by WalletHub, a personal finance website which provides analysis of demographic trends.

Top 20 Happiest U.S. Cities 

  1. Fremont, CA
  2. San Jose, CA
  3. Irvine, CA
  4. San Francisco
  5. Sioux Falls, SD
  6. Huntington Beach, CA
  7. San Diego
  8. Oakland, CA
  9. Santa Rosa, CA
  10. Washington
  11. Chula Vista, CA
  12. Santa Clarita, CA
  13. Scottsdale, AZ
  14. Garden Grove, CA
  15. Madison, WI
  16. Gilbert, AZ
  17. Overland Park, KS
  18. Anaheim, CA
  19. Plano, Texas
  20. Glendale, CA

 

Source: WalletHub

 

Assessing Happiness

How did WalletHub assess happiness? They used a metric that gave weighted scores in categories such as income and employment, community and environment. 

They looked at specific factors important to happiness, like sleep, for example. The cities where people are getting the most sleep are Overland Park, Kan.; Sioux Falls, SD; Denver; Boise, Idaho and Austin, Texas. Cities with the least amount of sleep include Cleveland; Birmingham, Ala.; Honolulu and Newark, NJ. People in Detroit are getting the very least amount of sleep.

The city with the lowest obesity rate is Irvine, CA. The highest, again, in dead last is Detroit.

People living in California suburbs are some of the happiest in the nation. Credit: Jeff Turner/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

The study radiates with the glory of the Southern California suburbs, which offer broad appeal in the nation’s most temperate climate. Southern California’s air has gotten cleaner in decades due to the state’s efficiency and relentlessness to combat the problem.

Irvine is a master-planned community in south Orange County. It has long been the model of American dream living in Southern California. Irvine also has the fifth-lowest divorce rate in the U.S. The highest divorce rate? You guessed it — Detroit.

Related: Best & Worst Cities for Active Lifestyles Revealed

Northern California was well-represented on the list, with perennial favorite San Francisco ranking high in several categories. And of course, the list’s topper — Fremont — is in Central California.

The city of Detroit was last on the list for happiness. Credit: Dave Hogg/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Many would argue Detroit is getting a bad rap. Motown music emanates happiness and the city has plenty to celebrate. Its renaissance in recent years and affordable real estate apparently is a well-kept secret.

“The pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right of all people,” WalletHub declares in its report. “The U.S. Declaration of Independence makes that very clear. But as everyone discovers at some point, happiness is not so easy to achieve – unless, perhaps, you’re in a place where it is not only a state of being but also a way of life.”

Calling happiness, “an elusive condition,” WalletHub used “30 key indicators of happiness, ranging from depression rate to income-growth rate to average leisure time spent per day.”

Related: Choosing the Right Community Could Help You Live Longer

A professional journalist nearly 30 years, David Heitz started his career at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa before moving to Los Angeles. He led the Glendale News-Press to best small daily newspaper in the state (CNPA) as managing editor and also worked as executive news editor of the Press-Telegram. He worked briefly as deputy news editor of the Detroit News before returning to the Quad-Cities, where he has worked as a freelance medical writer since 2012 for several national websites. He recently purchased his childhood home and says he truly is “living the dream.” 
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