NewsNational NewsScripps News


These are the happiest cities in the US

A study from WalletHub found America's happiest cities — and there's a stark difference between the coasts.
These are the happiest cities in the U.S.
Posted at 7:46 PM, Feb 28, 2024

That seasonal depression might be attributable to more than just the weather. 

A new report says your location can play a big part in those feelings of doom and gloom too, with some places making their residents' days much brighter, mentally, than others.

The study from personal finance company WalletHub looked at 29 key happiness indicators in 182 of America's largest cities to find which ones had the jolliest inhabitants. Those indicators fell under three categories: emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment. 

Here's what the study found.

The happiest cities in the U.S.

Source: WalletHub

    1. Fremont, California

The merriest town in all the land lies in the San Francisco Bay Area, ranking first in emotional and physical well-being and third in community and environment. 

And although we all know money (supposedly) can't buy you happiness, it seems to help the some 227,000 people living in Fremont. 

According to WalletHub, the Northern California metropolis has the highest share of households — nearly 80% — with an income above $75,000, making money partly the reason for the always happy season there.

"Studies have shown that increasing your income also increases your happiness up to $75,000 but not beyond, the company said. "Therefore, cities where a lot of people make at least $75,000 per year are more likely to have maximized their happiness."

Fremont's population also has the lowest separation and divorce rates in the country at only 8.9%, according to WalletHub. Its residents also report high life-satisfaction rates, low depression rates and long lifespans. 

    2. Overland Park, Kansas

The second-happiest American city boasts its rank in part due to having the lowest poverty rate in the country at just 4.2%.

While it might not have the highest salaries, it does have one of the lowest unemployment rates at 3% and one of the lowest food-insecurity rates. In terms of happiness, WalletHub says being able to provide for your family automatically ups the warm and toasty feelings.

It's not all work and no play, though. Overland Park residents apparently love their free time too, with residents having a lot more of it each week compared to most other cities, per WalletHub. Its residents typically spend this time making up the country's highest sports-participation rates, or getting lots of shut-eye, with Overland Park natives getting more sleep than people in most other cities, the study found.

    3. San Jose, California

Northern California snagged another top rank with a Silicon Valley city. 

San Jose boasts the longest average life expectancy in the country, and many of those lives are filled with happy families, as it also has one of the lowest separation and divorce rates.

Outside of the home, the city scores the highest on Sharecare's Community Well-Being Index, meaning its residents feel safe and prideful about their home.

That happiness is evident in their mental health, with the city's low rates of depression and suicide, per WalletHub.

SEE MORE: Can money buy happiness? Most Americans say yes

Where America's most populated cities rank

If you couldn't tell by now, the No. 1 most populated city in the U.S. is not the No. 1 most    happy. New York, New York ranked 86th on the WalletHub list, trailing not far behind America's third-most populated city, Chicago, which ranked 83rd.

And even though California occupied three of the top five spots —Irvine ranked No. 5 — its largest city, and America's second-largest has some smiles to make up. Los Angeles ranked No. 64, while its northern sister San Francisco ranked No. 7.

The rest of the top 10 most populated cities vary in happiness. In descending rank of population, Houston ranked No. 134, Phoenix ranked No. 87, Philadelphia ranked No. 161, San Antonio ranked No. 165, San Diego ranked highest of the 10 at No. 15, Dallas ranked No. 132 and lastly, Austin ranked No. 66.

Other interesting findings from the study

The most unhappy cities in the U.S., according to WalletHub, are Montgomery, Alabama, then Cleveland, Ohio, and, in dead last, Detroit, Michigan. It's worth noting that all three of these cities also rank the lowest in terms of adequate sleep. 

Meanwhile, the places with the most adequate sleep rates are South Burlington, Vermont at No. 1, followed by Madison, Wisconsin — which ranked No. 4 in overall happiness — then Portland, Oregon. 

And although Fremont and San Jose boast the third- and fourth-lowest rates of depression, Pearl City and Honolulu, Hawaii take the top-two spots. 

Trending stories at