Sorry, East Coasters, but it looks like happiness lies somewhere else.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated March 11, 2019
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The Happiest Cities in the U.S. has a promising ring to it—it seems to offer happiness on a platter, available to whoever lives within the borders of these happy towns. And who wouldn’t want to live in a place where happiness is all but guaranteed? Each year, personal finance site WalletHub compares 182 of the largest cities in the U.S. to find the ones that are objectively more happy than the others, and this year, the top cities on the list all lie west.

WalletHub’s annual ranking of the Happiest Cities in America considers 31 key indicators of happiness, including factors such as depression rates, rates of adequate sleep, number of hours worked, and divorce rates. The cities at the top of the list had high total scores for the key indicators and ranked near the top for the categories considered.

Surprisingly, all the cities in the top 10 lie in the West or Midwest; only one in the top 10, Madison, Wisconsin, is east of the Mississippi River. And, of all the cities in the top 20 Happiest Cities in America, only one East Coast city—Charleston, South Carolina—even made the list. (And, at number 20, it just barely made the cut.)

Why are cities farther to the west so much happier than those to the east? It’s hard to say, though there’s a chance that factors such as Ideal Weather, Acres of Parkland per 1,000 Residents, and Commute Time had major roles in knocking crowded, sometimes chilly East Coast cities toward the bottom of the list.

Moving to a new city isn’t the key to happiness—sometimes, struggling to adjust to new surroundings far from home can actually detract from happiness levels—but if you’re in need of a change of pace, a different environment or a city that puts less importance on working long hours could be the trick to boosting your mood.

See the top 10 happiest cities in the U.S. below, or visit WalletHub for the full list of all 182 cities ranked, plus full methodology.

Top 20 Happiest Cities in America

  1. Plano, Texas
  2. Irvine, California
  3. Madison, Wisconsin
  4. Fremont, California
  5. Huntington Beach, California
  6. Fargo, North Dakota
  7. Grand Prairie, Texas
  8. San Jose, California
  9. Scottsdale, Arizona
  10. San Francisco, California