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Whether you’re planning a move and considering the best areas for raising children or you’re curious about how your own sense of well-being stacks up against other Americans’, the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being series is a good place to start. The latest report ranked 189 U.S. communities by the Well-Being Index score of their residents.
The rankings are based on scores for five factors, considered by this study to be the elements of well-being:
- Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
- Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
The idea is to provide data that can help individuals and community leaders make meaningful and positive changes to attract new residents and to encourage existing residents to make choices resulting in the best quality of life. Ranked from lowest to highest Well-Being Index score, here are the 50 happiest U.S. communities:
50. Ogden–Clearfield, Utah
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This metropolitan area lies 40 miles north of Salt Lake City near the stunning peaks of Ben Lomond and Mount Ogden. Although this community drew a poor ranking of 105 on the Physical factor, it ended up 50th out of the 189 communities in overall well-being with a score of 62.9. This is in large part due to its relatively high rankings in the Social and Community factors of 37 and 33, respectively.
49. Charleston–North Charleston, South Carolina
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This historic port city of Charleston, South Carolina, founded in 1670, is known for cobblestone streets in the French Quarter and Battery district. The city, whose urban area also includes North Charleston, is also known as the home of Fort Sumter, the target of the first shots of the Civil War.
Charleston-North Charleston, which tied the Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, community with a well-being score of 62.9, scored highest in the Social and Purpose factors.
48. Raleigh, North Carolina
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This community – known for its prestigious universities and as a thriving research hub – has an overall well-being score of 63.0. It ranked highest in the factor of Purpose.
47. Phoenix–Mesa–Scottsdale, Arizona
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This metro area, in the subtropical desert climate at the northern edge of the Sonoran Desert, has a well-being score of 63.0.
46. Austin–Round Rock, Texas
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Austin, which has become one of the country’s destinations of choice for technology, is also one of the fastest-growing communities. Besides being Texas’ capital, it is the state’s fourth most-populous city and the 11th largest in the nation.
The Austin-Round Rock community is the last in a three-community tie for overall well-being with its score of 63.0.
45. Gainesville, Florida
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As a state, Florida ranks high in well-being, but it has communities that rank lower than you might expect. Gainesville ended up with an overall score of 63.1, with its highest marks in the factors of Social and Purpose.
44. Washington, D.C.–Arlington–Alexandria
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The nation’s capital — and the surrounding metropolitan area that stretches into the states of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia — is in the ranks of the top 50 happiest communities with an overall well-being score of 63.1. It ranks best in Financial (22) and worst in Community (86).
43. Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Colorado Springs is east of the Rocky Mountains on Fountain Creek, south of the state’s capital, Denver. It is the third of a trio of communities that scored 63.1 in overall well-being. Unlike the other communities with the same ranking, this city’s factor rankings are about even. The poorest rank of 72 was in Financial, and its best was a 50 in Community.
42. Green Bay, Wisconsin
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This community on the shore of Lake Michigan has its worst rankings in Purpose and Social. But its best scores of 19 and 14 in Financial and Community boost its overall well-being score to 63.2.
41. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, South Carolina
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Greenville, in South Carolina’s Upstate area, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and has one of the strongest job markets. With its metro area neighbors, the Greenville community is another with an overall well-being score of 63.2. Its best score was 21 in Social; worst, 104 in Physical.
40. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
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Connecticut’s largest city, Bridgeport, and its metro area neighbors comprise the third community with a ranking of 63.2. It scored a 109 in Financial, but its rank of 12 in Physical helped it reach No. 40 in overall well-being.
39. San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, California
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This metropolitan area ranks poorly in Community with a 101, but its score of 12 in Financial and 15 in Physical are among the best rankings in these categories across the country.
38. Cape Coral–Fort Myers, Florida
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This metropolitan area on Florida’s west coast places 38th with an overall well-being score of 63.3. Its rankings are about even across the board, with the worst being a 53 in Purpose and the best a 20 in Financial.
37. Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, Minnesota
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This metro community includes an area that crosses over the Mississippi River into Wisconsin. Its overall score was 63.3, with a 16 in Financial and a 105 in Purpose.
36. Grand Rapids–Wyoming, Michigan
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Grand Rapids and the adjacent suburb of Wyoming, unlike many Michigan communities, scored high in well-being with a score of 63.4. The community, near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, is a popular summer vacation destination. It scored a solid 21 in Community; its worst rank was a 98 in Physical.
35. Miami–Fort Lauderdale–West Palm Beach, Florida
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Another community with an overall score of 63.4 is this metropolitan area on the southeastern tip of Florida. It scores poorly with a 162 in Financial, but it’s one of the best with an 11 in Physical.
34. Daphne–Fairhope–Foley, Alabama
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Along the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay lies Daphne, known as “The Jubilee City.” At No. 34, this area of Baldwin County has an overall well-being score of 63.4, the highest in the state of Alabama. Its Financial score of 158 is among the worst in the country. But its scores of 8 in Purpose and 9 in Community are among the best.
33. Oxnard–Thousand Oaks–Ventura, California
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Although California has a few communities that rank in the lowest 25 for well-being in the country, it also has many communities in the top 50. This stretch of the Pacific Coast ranked best in Physical at 21 and worst in Financial at 106. Its overall well-being score was 63.4.
32. Portland–South Portland, Maine
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This Maine community was the fifth to score 63.4 overall. Its best score is 14 in Social, its worst in Purpose at 84.
31. San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, California
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This metropolitan area of Northern California is not only popular with tourists, it is also quite popular with the people who live there. Its mild weather and landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge likely contribute to its well-being ranking of 31. It got an overall well-being score of 63.5, with a ranking of 13 in Financial and 110 in Purpose.
30. Port St. Lucie, Florida
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Port St. Lucie — a rapidly growing coastal community in southeast Florida — outranks its neighbor just to the south, Fort Lauderdale, in well-being. The community’s overall score of 63.5 factors in a 7 in Social and a 74 in Physical.
29. Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers, Arkansas
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This metro area includes the third-largest city in Arkansas, Fayetteville, and Rogers, which is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. With an overall score of 63.6, this community in Arkansas (which also crosses over into Missouri) ranks 29th. Its worst score was 98 in Social, its best 10 in Community.
28. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
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Located in the south-central part of Pennsylvania, this community has the highest ranking in its state. It is also one of the nation’s oldest inland towns. This community has an overall well-being score of 63.7. Its score of 8 in Financial is one of the best in the country.
27. Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, which is known for its research and is a key employer in the city. With an overall score of 63.7, Ann Arbor is the highest-ranking community in the state of Michigan. Its best score is 6 in Financial.
26. Asheville, North Carolina
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Asheville, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the 11th-largest city in the state — and known for a vibrant arts scene and its historic architecture. It is the last of the three communities with a score of 63.7. Its best score is an 11 in Community, and its worst is an 87 in Financial.
25. Visalia–Porterville, California
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This inland California metropolitan area located near Sequoia National Park scored a 63.8 overall. Although it scored poorly at 79 in Community, it came in at 2 in Purpose.
24. San Antonio–New Braunfels, Texas
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Also with a 63.8, this Texas metropolitan area scores high on the well-being scale. Its best score was a 9 in Purpose. Its worst was a 60 in Financial.
23. Des Moines–West Des Moines, Iowa
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The community of Des Moines, Iowa’s state capital, and its metro area partner, West Des Moines, garnered an overall well-being score of 63.8, with its best a 4 in the Financial rankings and worst a 96 on Social.
22. San Diego–Carlsbad, California
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This California community tops out at 13 in Physical, with its worst score 72 in Social, resulting in an overall well-being score of 63.9.
21. Durham–Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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Chapel Hill and Durham make up two legs of this state’s Research Triangle (with neighboring Raleigh making up the third leg). They benefit from the presence of three prestigious universities and an extensive tech sector. The community’s best score is 11 in Social. Its overall well-being score of 63.9 ties the California community of San Diego-Carlsbad.
20. Anchorage, Alaska
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Anchorage — Alaska’s largest city and a gateway to the nearby wilderness and mountain areas — is one of five communities to finish with a 64.0 overall well-being score. This community is most impressive with a 2 on its Financial factor.
19. Salinas, California
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Just south of the greater Bay Area in California is Salinas, a community nestled amid the rich Salinas valley farm country. Salinas scored its best in Purpose, worst in Community and garnered an overall score of 64.0.
18. Provo–Orem, Utah
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Utah’s focal point for technology development, Provo scores its best in Community and Purpose, with all other factor rankings ending up in the 30s. Its overall well-being score of 64.0 puts it in the top 20 in the country.
17. Santa Rosa, California
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Another California community, in the Sonoma County wine country north of San Francisco, scores a 64.0 in overall well-being. Its best categories are Community and Physical.
16. El Paso, Texas
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El Paso is the last of the five communities that tied with an overall score of 64.0. This community nailed a 1 in Purpose but could muster only a 91 in Financial.
15. Greeley, Colorado
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Near Denver in northern Colorado on the banks of the South Platte River you’ll find the picturesque city of Greeley, which scored well on Purpose and poorly in Social. Greeley ended up at 15th place in the country with an overall score of 64.1.
14. McAllen–Edinburg–Mission, Texas
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This metropolitan area next to the Rio Grande River and the Gulf Coast is near one of the best bird-watching destinations in the country. McAllen–Edinburg–Mission is one of three communities in the country with an overall well-being score of 64.1, garnering an impressive ranking of 4 in Purpose. However, its dismal rank of 170 in Financial held back its overall score.
13. Prescott, Arizona
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Prescott, in north-central Arizona south of Granite Dells, is well-known for its outcroppings of granite. This community was the capital of the Arizona Territory until Phoenix became the state’s capital in 1889. Prescott also has an overall well-being score of 64.1, making it one of the best in the state. Its best score was in Community, and its worst was in Social.
12. Santa Maria–Santa Barbara, California
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Santa Maria, not too far from Los Angeles, is known for its wine industry and barbecue. This Santa Barbara County community is one of three to get an overall well-being score of 64.7. This area ranked highest in Physical, lowest in Financial.
11. Fort Collins, Colorado
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This community in Colorado also ended up with a 64.7 overall well-being score. It scored well in both Community and Physical, but its lowest score was in Financial.
10. Boulder, Colorado
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Like Fort Collins, this Colorado community also ended up with a well-being score of 64.7. The Boulder area’s best scores were a 7 on Community and a 2 on Physical. However, its worst score was a 118 in Purpose.
9. Hilton Head Island–Bluffton–Beaufort, South Carolina
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Although Hilton Head Island is mostly known for being a resort town, it is also the anchor of a metropolitan area ranking high in well-being. This South Carolina community scored well with a 1 in Social, helping it land at No. 9 overall with a score of 64.9. Its worst scores were a 27 in Community and a 26 in Financial.
8. Lynchburg, Virginia
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In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies Lynchburg, known as “the City of Seven Hills.” It is one of the few Virginia cities that wasn’t captured before the end of the Civil War. With a 64.9, Lynchburg tied the ranking of the South Carolina community above at No. 9. Its best scores were 8s in both Social and Community.
7. San Luis Obispo–Paso Robles–Arroyo Grande, California
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One of California’s oldest communities, San Luis Obispo and the surrounding area placed seventh in the country and shared a 65.2 score with the Florida community below. Its best scores were a 2 Community and a 5 in Physical, but its score of 89 in Social was one of the worst among the top 10 communities.
6. North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton, Florida
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This community in Florida, one of the state’s fastest-growing, scored its best with a 1 in Financial. Its worst scores were 14s in both Purpose and Physical. Still, an overall score of 65.2 is impressive and lands this community at No. 6 in the country.
5. Charlottesville, Virginia
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The home of two presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, this historic community in Virginia scored the highest in the state with a 65.3. Charlottesville’s best ranks came in the Social and Physical categories with a 5 and 6, respectively.
4. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
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People expect communities in Hawaii to have high well-being scores, but this one, at 65.4, was the only one in the state to land in the top 50. Its most impressive scores are a 3 in Financial, a 6 in Community and a 7 in Physical. Its worst rank is a 53 in Social.
3. Santa Cruz–Watsonville, California
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With a 65.9, this community scored the highest among many thriving communities in California. At No. 3, its best scores were a 3 in Community and a 4 in Physical. Its 6 and 7 in Purpose and Financial weren’t bad, either, but its Social score of 20 held it back from the top spot.
2. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
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The largest community in the Cape Cod area in both area and population is Barnstable Town, which scored 66.2 in overall well-being, a clear step above the No. 3 community and just a hair below No. 1. It scored 12 in Purpose, 2 in Social, 5 in Financial, 5 in Community and 1 in Physical.
1. Naples–Immokalee–Marco Island, Florida
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This Florida metropolitan area scored the highest in the country with a well-being score of 66.3. The community ended up with rankings of 3 in Purpose, 3 in Social, 11 in Financial, 1 in Community and 3 in Physical. It’s important to note that this area has the highest proportion of residents who are thriving, eating healthfully and experiencing the lowest lifetime diagnoses of depression. It could be difficult to knock this community out of first place.
How do you think your community would rank in well-being? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.