From Our Archive
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Over the last year where we lived was more important than ever since we were spending so much time at home. And location is a major determining factor in someone’s overall well-being. That’s on top of the fact that stress levels rose at incredible rates due to the pandemic. So, WalletHub’s 2021 study on America’s Happiest Cities is particularly interesting.

So, which spots rank the highest? Fremont, California, took the No. 1 position on this year’s list, with Bismark and Fargo, North Dakota, rounding out the top three. Madison, Wisconsin, held the fourth spot while another California city—San Jose—took over No. 5.

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To determine the list, WalletHub compared 182 of the largest cities across three key factors: emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment. These categories were rated using relevant metrics—like depression rate, income-growth rate, and average leisure time spent per day—and then an average number across all of them was calculated to determine the overall score.

As far as cities that ranked highest in individual categories, San Francisco had the lowest depression rate, South Burlington, Vermont had the best sleep, and the highest sports participation rate was found in Seattle, Washington. The study also found that those in Burlington, Vermont, work the fewest hours while residents in San Francisco have the highest incomes.

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When it comes to cities that ranked lowest on the list, Detroit, Michigan held the last spot with Cleveland, Ohio, and Memphis, Tennessee, not far behind. Spokane, Washington, had the highest depression rate, while those in Honolulu, Hawaii, had the worst sleep. Interesting, it was Casper, Wyoming, that worked the most hours.

“The environment is important to happiness,” said Joseph A. Allen, Ph.D., professor of industrial and organizational psychology, University of Utah Health. “For example, with COVID-19, and kids at home, living in a two-bedroom apartment may be suddenly an unhappy (or less happy) place. Geographic location does matter, to some extent, as is evidenced by seasonal affective disorder (i.e., cabin fever, gloomy day syndrome, etc.).”


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