In his 2010 bestselling book Thrive, National Geographic author Dan Buettner visited some of the ‘happiest’ places in the world to unlock the keys to living your best life. Now, he and a team of social scientists from Gallup have gotten together to map out the happiest cities in the United States.
The researchers went by 15 metrics -- eating habits, civic engagement, financial security, vacation time and more -- that tend to coincide with contentment levels. Between 2014 and 2015, nearly 250,000 interviews were conducted with people from 190 metropolitan areas around the U.S.
They found some interesting things. For instance, water quality and bikeability both correlate to a city’s happiness. Buettner said the study also showed that, when it comes to happiness, “there’s a genesis to it. Enlightened leaders make conscious decisions to favor quality of life over economic development or political expediency.”
Seven California locales made Buettner and Gallup’s list. Though San Luis Obispo was once named the happiest city in America by Buettner, it dropped down to #5.
Here are the Happiest Cities in America according to the research: 1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
3. Charlottesville, Virginia
4. Fort Collins, Colorado
5. San Luis Obispo, California
6. San Jose, California
7. Provo, Utah
8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conneticut
9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
10. Anchorage, Alaska
11. Naples Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida
12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
13. Salinas, California
14. North Port-Sarasota Bradenton, Florida
15. Honolulu, Hawaii
16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
17. San-Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
18. Colorado Springs, Colorado
19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
Data is compiled and reported by National Geographic. Report does not reflect statistics on all cities in California or the United States.