Well-Being Longevity

New study locates the happiest city in America

Story at a glance

  • The “2021’s Happiest Cities in America” study compared 182 of the largest cities in the United States on 31 indicators of happiness.
  • “Location plays a hand in how bright or gloomy our days are,” WalletHub’s Adam McCann wrote.
  • Fremont, Calif., the fourth most populous city in the Bay Area, topped the list and came in first place in emotional and physical well-being. It also had the lowest rate of divorce and separation and the one of the lowest rates of depression.

A Bay Area city is the happiest city in the country, according to a new study from WalletHub.

The “2021’s Happiest Cities in America” study compared 182 of the largest cities in the United States on 31 indicators of happiness, including the rate of depression, income and employment and environment. The survey included 150 of the nation’s most populated cities and at least two of the most populated cities in each state. 


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“Location plays a hand in how bright or gloomy our days are,” WalletHub’s Adam McCann wrote. “For years, researchers have studied the science of happiness and found that its key ingredients include a positive mental state, healthy body, strong social connections, job satisfaction and financial well-being.”

Fremont, Calif., the fourth most populous city in the Bay Area, topped the list and came in first place in emotional and physical well-being. It also had the lowest rate of divorce and separation and the one of the lowest rates of depression. It’s the fourth year in the row the city has taken the top spot. 

Bismarck, N.D., ranked second overall, followed by Fargo, N.D.; Madison, Wis.; and San Jose, Calif.

A third of the top 15 happiest cities are in California, including Santa Rosa at number 10, Irvine at 12 and San Francisco at number 13. 

Detroit, Mich., ranked as the least happy city for 2021. 

The study comes as the coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives of Americans and caused a spike in mental health issues. More than half of all Americans polled report that their mental health has suffered more from stress amid the pandemic while depression has quadrupled.


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