The 10 Happiest Cities in 2020

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A happy woman riding a bike in a city
goodluz /

This story was written by Kathy Morris and originally appeared on

Ever wondered where in the country people are happiest?

Just like where you work and what you do, where you live can have major implications for your quality of life. We set out to find the cities where life is sweetest and the residents have the most to grin about.

We turned happiness into a science and scoured the country to find the cities with all the ingredients for happiness:

  • Being well-educated (as determined by the share of a population with at least a bachelor’s degree)
  • Percent of households earning more than $75,000 per year
  • Median home prices
  • A short commute to work (traffic = unhappiness)
  • Having a family (Getting and staying married has a ton of happiness benefits, on average.)

We examined over 600 cities to find the cities that have all of the above in spades.

While some may be confused to see marriage rates included in our metrics, studies show that married people are typically happier than unmarried people. However, it is worth noting that marriage doesn’t cause happiness. In fact, people leaving a bad marriage experience spikes of happiness. However, a happy marriage and positive social interactions are important for mood and mental health.

Similarly, if you’re scratching your head to see $75,000 as the cut-off for happiness, blame Purdue University. Their study found that was the amount that met basic needs and freed people from the pitfalls of deep financial insecurity.

All of our data comes from the Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey.

The results? Midsized towns won out over booming cities. Apparently, happiness needs space to thrive. I guess all those Hallmark movies were on to something.

Keep reading for more on why each of these 10 places is brimming with happiness.

10. Chandler, Arizona

Chandler, Arizona
Mark Skalny /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 57%
Average commute: 24.2 minutes
Marriage rate: 52%

In 10th place is Chandler, Arizona. Not only is Chandler the happiest city in Arizona, it is also home to a growing population of millennials. Maybe they’re hoping happiness is contagious?

9. Redmond, Washington

Redmond, Washington
GeorgeColePhoto /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 73%
Average commute: 24.8 minutes
Marriage rate: 58%

Seattle may be where you go to work in Washington’s largest companies, but Redmond’s where you live for happiness in Washington. While median home value is pretty steep in Redmond (a staggering $825,700!), Redmond residents earn top wages, which helps soften the costs. Redmond residents are some of the most educated people in the country — with 39% having a bachelor’s degree.

8. Richardson, Texas

Richardson, Texas
Trong Nguyen /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 57%
Average commute: 23 minutes
Marriage rate: 48%

Richardson is the affluent inner suburb of Dallas. Richardson residents are highly educated with good incomes, decent marriage rates and reasonable commutes. What’s not to be happy about?

7. Bismarck, North Dakota

Bismarck, North Dakota
Ace Diamond /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 44%
Average commute: 18 minutes
Marriage rate: 50%

Bismarck, North Dakota, is the seventh-happiest city in the country. Bismarck residents pull in respectable salaries and manage to do it, on average, within 18 minutes of their home. They can use all that extra time saved from a long commute to indulge in hobbies they’re passionate about.

6. Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Corey Carrico /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 78%
Average commute: 26 minutes
Marriage rate: 64%

The state of Colorado is booming, with many moving there to enjoy the growing tech scene, beautiful outdoors and great work-life balance. So many flooding into the state head to Denver, but going by the data they should give Highlands Ranch a second look. A staggering 78% of households earn over $75,000. Toss in a high marriage rate and reasonable commutes, and it’s easy to see those who call Highlands Ranch home have a lot to be happy about.

5. Appleton, Wisconsin

Appleton, Wisconsin
SkyBlodgett /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 40%
Average commute: 18 minutes
Marriage rate: 54%

Appleton, Wisconsin, is the fifth-happiest city in the nation. Appleton residents’ moods are kept high by reasonable home prices (the median home price in this Wisconsin city is only $150,000), happy marriages and short commutes.

4. Cary, North Carolina

Cary, North Carolina
KAD Photo /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 64%
Average commute: 23 minutes
Marriage rate: 57%

Cary may only be the seventh-largest city in North Carolina, but is No. 1 in happiness. An impressive 64% of Cary households earn $75,000 or more. That means families in Cary can afford peace of mind.

3. Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester, Minnesota
IMG_191 /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 47%
Average commute: 17.5 minutes
Marriage rate: 52%

Rochester is the third-happiest city in the country and the happiest in the entire state of Minnesota. Fifty-two percent of Rochester residents come home to a partner to share their life burdens. Bonus? Rochester’s short commutes give them more time to spend with all their loved ones or on hobbies they enjoy.

2. Olathe, Kansas

Olathe, Kansas
Dana Arriaga /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 56%
Average commute: 22 minutes
Marriage rate: 61%

Sorry, Overland — Kansas has a new happiest city, and it’s Olathe. At just 21 miles from Kansas City, residents have the affordability of suburban life, with the available excitement and opportunity of a larger city. Residents of Olathe are highly educated, with an impressive 35% having at least a bachelor’s degree. And in this modern day, education means options, and folks in Olathe have plenty of them.

1. Bloomington, Illinois

Bloomington, Illinois
Meagan Marchant /

Households earning more than $75,000 per year: 43%
Average commute: 16 minutes
Marriage rate: 53%

Bloomington, Illinois, is the happiest city in the whole country. What makes Bloomington residents so happy? They aren’t wasting their lives on long commutes, for one. The average Bloomington resident drives just 16 minutes to work. Toss in affordable housing and the fact that most Bloomington residents are coming home to a loving partner, and it’s easy to see the city has a lot going for it.

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