Residents of these cities enjoy lower rates of depression, more leisure time per day, comfortable incomes for their areas, and more factors that determine happiness.

By Lauren Phillips
March 12, 2018
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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?

Unfortunately, finding happiness isn’t as simple as that—though personal finance site WalletHub’s analysis and ranking of 2018’s Happiest Cities in America seeks to capture the essence of what can make people happy and, it turns out, location can play a big part in how happy we are. (For example, women may be happiest moving to this state.) Moving to a happiest city can’t immediately make you happier, but it can offer the opportunities, resources, community, and more to help you find happiness more easily—just like moving to a healthier state might make becoming more healthy easier.

To make the list, WalletHub rated more than 180 of the largest cities in the U.S. on 28 key indicators of happiness, including everything from the rate of people who got adequate sleep to the average amount of hours worked each week and the separation and divorce rates. You can see the full methodology here. Just remember that what makes some people happy might not make you happy: You might prefer a friendlier city, even if it doesn’t offer as much financial security as a less welcoming community.

The top three cities—Fremont, California; Bismarck, North Dakota; and San Jose, California—ranked first in the country in Community & Environment, Income & Employment, and Emotional & Physical Well-Being, respectively. All the key indicators of happiness fell within these three larger categories, as researchers agree that a positive mental state, healthy body, strong social connections, and financial well-being are all major ingredients to happiness, according to WalletHub. All the cities in WalletHub’s top 10 Happiest Cities in the U.S. averaged high rankings in these categories—see them below:

  1. Fremont, California
  2. Bismarck, North Dakota
  3. San Jose, California
  4. Pearl City, Hawaii
  5. Plano, Texas
  6. Fargo, North Dakota
  7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  8. Irvine, California
  9. Huntington Beach, California
  10. Grand Prairie, Texas

See WalletHub’s full ranking of 182 major cities nationwide here. Did your city rank well on the list? If it didn’t, would you consider moving for the possibility of finding greater happiness?