In this state, the living is easy—or at least easier.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated September 09, 2019

Sometimes, people bloom where they’re planted: They grow up, go to school, go to college, and work in the same city or area, spending their whole lives in the same relative region. There’s something to be said for staying where everything’s familiar, especially if you have deep family ties to the area. If you’re a little less regionally attached, though, moving around from city to city, state to state, or region to region can help you find new opportunities, new lifestyles, and even happiness.

That’s right: Some states are statistically proven to be happier than others. Personal finance site WalletHub releases an annual report of the happiest states in the U.S., which ranks all 50 states by indicators of happiness such as depression rate, physical health, career well-being, job security, and more. WalletHub’s 2019’s Happiest States in America analysis uses 31 relevant metrics in three categories—emotional and physical well-being, work environment, and community and environment—to offer a well-rounded approach to overall happiness; its ranking takes all aspects of well-being and life satisfaction into account to determine where people are, statistically speaking, happiest.

Obviously, you can lead a perfect life and still be unhappy. Learning how to be happy isn’t simply a matter of finding the right state or community to live in or surrounding yourself with happy colors—but being surrounded by environmental factors that contribute to a state of contentedness or happiness can certainly help.

That said, the happiest state in the U.S. according to WalletHub’s ranking does seem pretty idyllic. Hawaii earned the top spot by a decent margin, with a total score of 66.48. (The score is out of 100, with 100 representing maximum happiness; even the happiest state in the country can’t offer maximum happiness without a little work on the part of the happiness-seeker.) Hawaii was ranked first in emotional and physical well-being, 25th in work environment, and 12th in community and environment: pretty solid scores, especially for those who value well-being over career and community factors. If you haven’t already dreamed of moving to Hawaii with some frequency, this top honor is a good reason to start.

If Hawaii doesn’t seem quite right—we can’t all just pick up and move to this distant state—there are plenty of other states offering a good chance at happiness: Three western states (Utah, Minnesota, and California, in that order) followed Hawaii, and New Jersey came in fifth for the happiest states in the U.S.

In other interesting findings, Idaho had the top community and environment score, and Utah offers the best work environment. At the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia came in dead last, with the worst score (33.73 points) and the lowest ranking for emotional and physical well-being.

Moving comes with its own stressors, and moving to a so-called happiest state won’t suddenly change your life. There are likely many factors contributing to a state of unhappiness or low life satisfaction, and moving won’t fix all of them; that said, if you’re taking steps in all areas of your life to find joy, moving to a state that will contribute to your efforts might help you get there quicker, especially if you move to a state with a high score in an area that is important to you. If your career is your biggest priority, for example, moving to the number-one state for work environment might give you a serious happiness boost.

You can check out the full ranking of the happiest states in the U.S. from WalletHub to figure out if an interstate move is right for you—figuring out the logistics of making that move is up to you.