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America's Most Content (and Miserable) Cities

America’s Most Content Cities

10. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.
> Well-being index score: 71.2
> Obesity: 18.1%
> Median household income: $54,195
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 89.6%

Residents of the San Luis Obispo area reported among the highest scores for emotional health. Those surveyed were the least likely to report that they were angry or depressed within the past day. Residents received high marks for practicing healthy behavior as well, with more than 91% claiming they did not smoke. Additionally, around San Luis Obispo the unemployment rate was only 7.5%, which is lower than more than two-thirds of metro areas. Employees largely enjoyed their work environments, and they were the most likely residents of any metro area to claim they felt treated like partners by their supervisors. One of the largest employers in the region is Cal Polytec.

Also Read: The Most (and Least) Satisfied Professions

9. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va 
> Well-being index score: 71.3
> Obesity: 21.7%
> Median household income: $86,680
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.4%

With a population of nearly 5.5 million, the Washington, D.C., area is by far the largest metropolitan area with the highest well-being. Residents were among the most likely to report high satisfaction for their current lives and how they expected their lives to be in five years. Because the federal government and accompanying interest groups and lobbyists operate there, the area is home to many highly skilled and well-paid workers. The Washington metro area had the highest median income in the nation in 2011, at $86,680.

8. Ann Arbor, Mich.
> Well-being index score: 71.4
> Obesity: 25.8%
> Median household income: $56,612
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 94.2%

Residents of Ann Arbor had higher self-evaluations of their lives than any other major metro area in the country. More than two-thirds of the city’s residents were described by Gallup as “thriving” — the highest proportion of any metro area in the nation. The city also scored well for access to basic needs. Ann Arbor residents were among the least likely to say they struggled to afford food or shelter, and among the most likely to say they had health insurance. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, the area’s largest employer. Pay for the average full professor employed year-round at the school is more than $205,000 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

7. Honolulu, Hawaii
> Well-being index score: 71.5
> Obesity: 24.3%
> Median household income: $66,146
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.6%

More than 91% of area residents surveyed by Gallup had health insurance, among the highest proportions in the nation. Contributing to this is the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act, enacted in 1974, which requires most employers to provide coverage to regular, non-minimum wage workers. But having to offer coverage has not stopped employers in the area from hiring. The area’s unemployment rate was among the nation’s lowest, at 4.8% in January. Honolulu residents topped the nation for emotional health, and they were among the most likely Americans to say they felt respected and stress-free in the past day.

6. Barnstable Town, Mass.
> Well-being index score: 71.5
> Obesity: 18.5%
> Median household income: $56,699
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 94.6%

The Barnstable Town metro area includes the entirety of Cape Cod, a popular travel and vacation destination. It has high scores for well-being, in part due to residents’ opinions of their jobs. According to Gallup, the area received the second highest overall score for the quality of its work environments, with those surveyed especially likely to say they used their strengths at work. In addition, residents were likely to practice healthy behavior by exercising regularly and eating a proper diet of fruits and vegetables.