These Are the Happiest Cities in America

Updated: Mar. 08, 2023

Can you guess which U.S. city was named the happiest?

Exercise, quality time with loved ones, work-life balance, practicing gratitude, free time and creativity may all be common answers to the query of how to be happy. But what are some of the secrets to happiness?

Recently, personal finance website WalletHub tried to find an answer to that question. It turns out, the key to happiness may have something to do with where you live.

Beyond the United States’ current ranking as the 16th happiest nation in the world according to the World Happiness Report, certain U.S. cities have higher average happiness levels than others. Amongst an analysis of more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities, these are the happiest, according to WalletHub.

How were the happiest U.S. cities determined?

In order to figure out the happiest cities, WalletHub analyzed 182 of the largest U.S. cities utilizing three central dimensions: emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment.

Then, each of these dimensions was measured using a range of 30 relevant metrics of happiness. For example, for the category of emotional and physical well-being, researchers took measurements of life satisfaction, life expectancy, food insecurity and others into account.

Second, for the income and employment dimension, measurements of job satisfaction, job security, unemployment rates, commute time and more were taken into consideration. The dimension of community and environment took factors like average leisure time spent per day, ideal weather and rankings of “Most Caring Cities” into account.

What are the happiest U.S. cities?

Happy couple having fun during road trip in convertible carAlessandro Biascioli/Getty Images

California truly took the trophy as the state to offer some of the happiest cities throughout America. Cities like Fremont, San Jose and San Francisco all made it into the top five happiest U.S. cities.

These are the official findings:

  1. Fremont, California
  2. San Jose, California
  3. Madison, Wisconsin
  4. Overland Park, Kansas
  5. San Francisco, California
  6. Irvine, California
  7. Columbia, Maryland
  8. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  9. South Burlington, Vermont
  10. Burlington, Vermont
  11. Seattle, Washington
  12. Bismarck, North Dakota
  13. Oakland, California
  14. Huntington Beach, California
  15. San Diego, California
  16. Scottsdale, Arizona
  17. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  18. Yonkers, New York
  19. Aurora, Illinois
  20. Fargo, North Dakota

What factors correlate to happiness levels?

Ultimately, WalletHub’s findings don’t just reveal the happiest American cities. They also found that factors like sleep, sports participation, income growth, and separation and divorce rates may have something to do with happiness levels.

Notably, South Burlington, Vermont; Madison, Wisconsin; Burlington, Vermont; and Seattle, Washington are four of the five cities with the highest adequate sleep levels. They also happen to be in the top 11 happiest cities in the United States.

Additionally, the unhappiest city on the list—Detroit, Michigan—also had the lowest adequate-sleep rate of the 182 cities analyzed. Furthermore, cities like Cleveland, Ohio; Montgomery, Alabama; and Augusta, Georgia remain in the bottom seven happiest cities. They also make it onto the list of the top five cities with the lowest sleep rates in America.

Thus, getting the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye may just make a whole lot of difference no matter where you live.


  • WalletHub: “2023’s Happiest Cities in America”