There are many reasons why people move to another city, such as a need for more space or for their career, their relationship, or even just a change of scenery. The Declaration of Independence guarantees every American the right to pursue happiness, and for some, that means moving to a different city because they aren't happy where they are. After all, happiness is key to living a healthy and fulfilled life. With this in mind, we compiled a list of the 50 happiest cities in America, using data from WalletHub.
It probably won't surprise you that many of America's happiest cities are located on the West Coast, where sunshine abounds. In fact, 18 of the cities on this list are located in California alone! Each city's overall ranking was determined on the basis of a number of factors, including average income, employment levels, the emotional and physical well-being of residents, as well as the overall community and environment of the city. Whether you're looking for a joyful weekend getaway or want to move house, you should definitely start by checking out our list of the 50 happiest cities in America.
Over 10 ten percent of Fortune 500 companies have either their headquarters or a significant presence in the city of Irving. When comparing average income and employment levels, Irving ranks 31 out of 150 cities. Apparently, money can buy some happiness. This Texas city garnered a 57.33 overall score on the happiness index.
Home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City is known for outdoor recreation such as hiking, skiing, and camping. It's also not a bad destination for foodies. A number of national parks also contribute to its desirability, and the surrounding mountains look like a beautiful painting. Its 57.43 score on the happiness index doesn’t hurt, either.
Some people may consider Iowa just a "flyover state," but its capital shouldn't be discounted. Des Moines has about 600,000 residents, plenty of small town charm, and a happiness index of 57.90. From locally-owned restaurants and one-of-a-kind specialty shops to new housing developments and popular cultural events, there are plenty of things to do and see for you and all your neighbors.
According to Alan Woods of Movoto Real Estate, “the people of Garland are as kind as they are rugged,” and they exemplify what it means to be a true Texan. Perhaps that’s why Garland scored a 57.93 on the happiness index.
Colorado Springs ranks 16 out of 150 cities in terms of its sense of community, and the safe, family atmosphere of this Colorado military town makes it a great place to live and work. Home to both an Army and an Air Force base, this city is also not far from less-crowded ski resorts, such as Monarch Ski Area or Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The overall happiness index score of Colorado Springs is 58.41.
One of the best things about life in Santa Ana, California, is the close proximity to beautiful beaches. Fun in the sun is a quick drive away, which keeps residents in a cheery mood. Ranking 23rd when it comes to emotional and physical well-being pushed Santa Ana up to 58.42 on the happiness index.
Stepping into Cape Coral is pure paradise for nature lovers. Whether you prefer a vigorous hike or a quiet stroll, there are many locations for an outdoor adventure. And the animals aren’t the only pleased beings, as the city received an overall happiness score of 58.65. Perhaps it's because Cape Coral's residents have access to the best poutine south of Canada.
A town that’s constantly growing, Rancho Cucamonga is filled with new homes and families. A bevy of hiking trails in and around the mountains keeps people active — and cheerful! That may be why Rancho Cucamonga has a score of 58.69 on the happiness index.
It is said the Sun City has, on average, more than 300 days of sun a year! That’s one of the many reasons to find happiness in El Paso, which earned a happiness index score of 58.72.
Out of 150 cities, Charlotte, North Carolina ranked as the 7th best city for community and environment. Its standing in this category moved Charlotte up to the 41st happiest city in America with an index score of 59.05.
Long Beach has the same happiness score of 59.05 as Durham, North Carolina (which comes in at No. 39), but certain factors, such as a slightly lower income and employment ranking puts the city just below Durham on the happiness index. With the a beautiful shore at your fingertips and a seemingly endless supply of entertainment, including a superb aquarium, Long Beach earns a slightly higher ranking in terms of emotional and physical well-being, earning it a solid slot at No. 40.
Home to the best college for food in 2017, Durham has a community that is young, diverse, and educated. A higher average for income and employment has earned Durham 59.05 on the happiness scale, which is no surprise thanks to the city’s research and technology roots.
When you need to shop for furniture for your new home in Tempe, the place to be is IKEA. But Tempe's big blue maze isn't just any IKEA — it's the largest on the West Coast! It’s not all about Swedish-designed furniture, though. Tempe’s friendly communities, pretty parks, diverse cultural scene, and endless entertainment, contribute to its score of 59.12 on the happiness scale.
Generation Y loves Denver, which has become a city known for its fresh talent and energetic community. While millennials may not have the highest salaries, they are responsible for a strong job market, diverse communiy, and a thriving restaurant scene. Also perfect for families, this super-friendly city has an index score of 59.25.
When most people think of Los Angeles, they think Hollywood and a chance for celebrity-sighting. But there are plenty of neighborhoods in LA, all with various personalities and perks that make the City of Angels a desirable place to live. Just look at its happiness index score of 59.91.
A bustling arts scene and impressive architecture are some of the factors that make Aurora, more than just Chicago’s neighbor. It takes the 10th spot when it comes to community and environment, earning the city a score 59.94 on the happiness index.
Some see Grand Prairie as just a suburb of Dallas. Others know it has much more to offer, from small-town charm to a tight-knit community that makes it the 4th best American city for community and environment. Having access to all of the arts, culture, and events in bigger cities without the hassle of big city life gives the city an index score of 60.22.
You get the best of both worlds in Boise, Idaho. Downtown is booming, and the nearby rivers, mountains, and canyons are paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The 8th safest city in the world, Boise is also No. 16 in income and employment, contributing to a total score of 60.23 on the happiness index.
It’s no surprise that Honolulu continues to convince travelers to take a permanent vacation. The Hawaiian capital is known for its laid-back culture and diversity. It also has a booming business district, lined with palm trees, that contributes to Honolulu's standing as the 19th best city for income and employment. It also probably doesn't hurt that Hawaii has the best healthcare in the country. Honololu's happiness index score is 60.35.
Friendly faces, helping hands, and genuinely nice neighbors put Oxnard, California at No. 13 when ranking cities based on community and environment. The sunny weather is a plus, too, helping Oxnard score a 60.56 on the happiness index.
The Southwest region has become a popular place to move in recent years as Americans seek out warmer climates and cheaper houses. As a result, the population of Peoria, Arizona has grown over the past five years, taking its economy along with it. It's no shock, therefore, that Peoria earned a score of 60.86 on the happiness index.
Nicknamed the "Gateway to the Rockies," Aurora is home to about 100 parks and more than 5,000 acres of protected open space. Encouraging residents to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle, the 1,800-acre Aurora Reservoir also has plenty of space for residents to walk, run, and daydream. No wonder it ranks No. 22 when studying emotional physical well-being, giving it a happiness index score of 61.41.
Nationally recognized schools, a diverse cultural scene, and a family-friendly atmosphere are just a few factors that contributed to Chandler, Arizona’s 61.68 happiness score. The job market is also thriving, which is evident by Chandler’s No. 10 rank for income and employment.
Ranking high on the lists for emotional and physical well-being, as well as community and environment, Oceanside has a total happiness score of 61.83. The Oceanside Pier, the second longest wooden pier in California, is the perfect place to cast a line, take a long stroll, or simply stare at the sunset.
The capital city of Nebraska has more than a seemingly endless supply of corn fields. For one, football is king in the fall, and you might find yourself in an exciting sea of red when it’s game day for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln's happiness index score of 61.95 makes sense, considering its sense of community and the sunny disposition of its residents.
Not much separates St. Paul from its twin city, Minneapolis. Not only does it have big-city amenities like museums and sports stadiums, but St. Paul also boasts an approachable, Midwestern feel. That sense of community contributed to its happiness index score of 62.43.
Divided by the Mississippi River, the Twin Cities are considered one metropolitan area but encompass two unique cities. The economy is healthy and diverse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a No. 8 ranking for emotional and physical well-being helped the city total 62.59 on the happiness index.
Beautiful, green Raleigh has a growing arts and music scene, as well as tons of family fun from museums to fairs. With all that fresh air and culture readily available, it’s no surprise that the capital of North Carolina ranks No. 7 for emotional and physical well-being. Raleigh's food scene isn't too shabby either. The city’s happiness index score is 61.95.
The pleasant weather, surging music scene, and the Texas Longhorns may be a big draw in Austin, but attractive housing, a strong economy, and good education give the city a pretty high ranking on the emotional and physical well-being scale. An overall happiness index score of 63.01 seals the deal for us.
Despite popular belief, it doesn’t actually rain all the time in Seattle. Flanked by scenic mountains and beautiful waters, Seattle is simply a beautiful place to be. Home to giants like Starbucks and Amazon, No. 5 for income and employment makes the city a desirable place to live. So does its 63.16 happiness score.
Community parks, outdoor shopping, and beautiful architecture pepper the streets of Glendale, California. The happiness index of 63.43 tells us the people of Glendale truly enjoy this sunny city in the Golden State.
Plano is a great place to live and raise a family, as it is the regional hub for several businesses such as Bank of America, Cigna, and Intel. That’s probably why Plano cracked the top 20 when ranking income and employment. It also scored 63.43 on the happiness index.
The second largest city in Kansas, Overland Park features all the amenities of a big city, but still manages to maintain the charm of a quaint town. A 300-acre arboretum is filled with lush botanical gardens and plenty of space for hiking and daydreaming. And the 63.86 happiness index score isn’t too shabby, either.
One of the obvious reasons Anaheim is such a cheerful city is that Disneyland is basically in your backyard. Other factors include favorable weather, new housing developments, and a strong economy, bringing its total happiness score to 63.48.
Top-notch education and a caring community helped Gilbert, Arizona earn 63.87 on the happiness index. As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Gilbert continues to benefit from its residents’ happiness.
Over the last decade, Madison has steadily welcomed new residents into its delightful Midwest community. It's a very down-to-earth and casual kind of town, with a score of 64.29 on the happiness index.
A suburb of Los Angeles, Garden Grove is a welcoming, culturally diverse community in California. At No. 11 for physical and emotional well-being, the city is a hotbed of happiness, and its overall happiness score is 64.35.
There are more than 200 golf courses in Scottsdale, but that isn’t the only amenity available in the city. It is also a center for spas, fashion, and the arts, giving the city a No. 2 ranking for community and environment. Scottsdale’s overall happiness score is 64.61.
Santa Clarita has been rated one of the top 10 safest cities in California, according to an FBI Crime Report for cities with a population of more than 10,000. The addition of top retailers and plenty of jobs also makes Santa Clarita a desirable place to live, and the happiness score tops off at 64.79.
There is more than enough interesting culture, fun activities, and cheerful people to keep Chula Vista, California on your radar. A total happiness score of 64.82 was possible thanks to Chula Vista's high rankings for physical and emotional well-being, as well as community and environment.
It’s not all politics in Washington, D.C. Those who live in the nation’s capital are quick to point out that the surrounding communities are filled with bustling community parks, plenty of restaurants and entertainment venues, and an ambiance similar to a more tight-knit community. Their happiness is apparent when you see the score of 65.14 on the happiness index.
Santa Rosa, home to celebrity chef Guy Fieri, welcomes people of all ages from millennials to retirees. The many vineyards in wine country are also a vital source of employment for many residents. It’s always “wine o’clock" somewhere, and Santa Rosa’s happiness index score comes in at a notable 65.29.
Oakland is one of the most socially and ethnically diverse cities in the state. And to the delight of many residents, the city’s narrow peninsula location brings neighbors closer together. The incredibly talented Golden State Warriors and a happiness index score of 64.82 give them even more reasons to smile.
Famous for its sunny days and beautiful beaches, San Diego offers residents plenty of options for work and play no matter what neighborhood they live in. An overall happiness index score of 65.80 is, in part, due to its top ranking in physical and emotional well-being (No. 8), as well as income and employment (No. 7).
Huntington Beach may be a surfer’s paradise, but if you venture away from the ocean you’ll find there’s a lot more to the city than killer waves and tan athletes. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, and places to work. With an overall happiness score of 67.32, SoCal has never been so cool.
Not only is Sioux Falls one of the best weekend getaways in America, but it's also a great place to live. The city ranks high for its energy, personality, and community atmosphere. Companies like Citibank and Wells Fargo are headquartered here, and its total happiness score is an impressive 67.63.
San Francisco may be one of the most expensive cities to live in, but that doesn't mean its residents aren't some of the happiest in America. An eclectic and energetic city, San Francisco takes the No. 2 spot for income and employment, rounding out the overall happiness index score to 69.20.
Irvine boasts high-paying jobs and world-class public schools, as well as great Chinese food. It’s also a short drive to the beach. No wonder people loving living here! The city has a score of 70.99 on the happiness index scale.
San Jose takes the cake when it comes to physical and emotional well-being, ranking No. 1 on the list. This sprawling metro area sits close to many tech headquarters in the Silicon Valley and is nestled near mountains, the ocean, and plenty of vineyards. San Jose’s happiness index score comes in at 75.79.
The title of "Happiest City in America" goes to Fremont, California. It nearly swept the top three categories on the chart, taking the top spot for community and environment, as well as income and employment, and coming in at No. 2 for physical and emotional well-being. This former Gold Rush town is a gold mine for work and play. The final overall happiness score tops the list at 77.55. For some more destinations sure to bring you joy, check out our 101 best weekend getaways in America.