America’s Most Content (and Miserable) Cities

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5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
> Well-Being Index score: 70.6
> Pct. adults with college degree: 46.4%
> Pct. smokers: 11.1%
> Median household income: $90,737

The San Jose area, home to Silicon Valley, was the richest metro area in the country in 2012. Based on another Gallup survey, residents were more confident in the overall direction of the economy than people anywhere else in the country, other than Washington. High-paying jobs may have something to do with this. According to a recent analysis by 24/7 Wall St., many of the companies with the highest median salary are located in Silicon Valley. Overall, respondents reported enjoying their work environment. Roughly 62% of residents said they felt their boss treated them as an equal, more than in the vast majority of metro areas. Area residents were relatively emotionally healthy, with high numbers claiming they felt treated with respect, and relatively few reporting they felt depressed.

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4. Honolulu, Hawaii
> Well-Being Index score: 70.7
> Pct. adults with college degree: 32.2%
> Pct. smokers: 17.9%
> Median household income: $71,404

Honolulu residents were among the most emotionally healthy Americans. Notably, more than nine in 10 respondents said they enjoyed themselves in the past 24 hours, more than in any other area reviewed. Honolulu also led the nation in several physical health measures, including the percentage of respondents saying they were well rested. The area’s obesity rate of 23.9% was lower than the national rate of 27.1%, and Honolulu residents were among the most likely to find time to exercise for at least 30 minutes on a regular basis. Residents can also count on relatively good health services. Hawaiian employers have been required to offer generous health benefits since 1974, providing among the most comprehensive health care systems in the nation.

3. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
> Well-Being Index score: 71.1
> Pct. adults with college degree: 44.7%
> Pct. smokers: 16.9%
> Median household income: $55,890

Fort Collins residents were among the most content American workers. More than 66% of those surveyed said they felt treated like a partner at work, a higher percentage than in all but two metro areas. Much of the work in the area demands high skills and education, which could explain people’s satisfaction. The area is home to a large number of high-tech manufacturers, as well as Colorado State University, a major research institution. Residents, too, were among the healthiest in the country — the area had one of the lowest obesity rates in the nation. Residents also were more likely than those elsewhere to practice healthy behaviors, with more than 61% of people exercising regularly, the second highest rate in the nation. Last year, 58.6% of people surveyed in the Fort Collins area stated they were thriving, more than in all but a few other metro areas.

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2. Boulder, Colo.
> Well-Being Index score: 71.3
> Pct. adults with college degree: 57.9%
> Pct. smokers: 12.3%
> Median household income: $66,989

Boulder residents were among the happiest in the nation in their personal lives. Residents valued learning, as the area ranked second in the percentage of people who said they learned something new in the past 24 hours. Residents were also among the nation’s most educated — 58% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, the most nationwide. Nearly 90% said they experienced enjoyment within the previous day. The general contentment was also reflected in the overall health of the population. The area had the third-lowest smoking rate, as well as the lowest percentage of residents with high blood pressure.

1. Provo-Orem, Utah
> Well-Being Index score: 71.4
> Pct. adults with college degree: 35.8%
> Pct. smokers: 7.0%
> Median household income: $58,218

The Provo metro area received the best score of any area in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. One major reason was that respondents had extremely positive evaluations of their lives. Only Ann Arbor residents gave more positive evaluations of their present lives, and nowhere were people more likely to be optimistic about their lives in the next five years. Residents were also extremely emotionally healthy. More than 95% said they had felt happy for much of the preceding day, again more than in any other metro area. This may be due in part to the fact that more than three-quarters of those surveyed said they learned something new every day, the most in the nation. Also likely helping residents to enjoy their lives, Provo had one of the lowest crime rates in the nation in 2012, as well as just a 4% unemployment rate last December, also among the lowest in the nation.

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