The Ten Happiest Cities in America

Authored by The Rx Advocates, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS


Happiness is a state of mind.

However, many things directly play into a person’s overall happiness. Relationships, autonomy, money, sunshine, and genetics, all play into happiness. The happiness list is quite extensive and often adaptable to the individual.

The more research psychologists conduct, the more they realize that the actual factors of a person’s happiness are unique.

According to Action for Happiness the 10 Keys to Happier Living can be generalized along these lines:

  • Giving
  • Relating
  • Exercising
  • Awareness
  • Trying Out
  • Direction
  • Resilience
  • Emotions
  • Acceptance
  • Meaning

Each person will utilize different amounts of this list, but at the end of the day, it is possible to figure out what makes each person happy.

Freedom is something that can also lead to happiness.

People like to make their own decisions and have the freedom to figure themselves out. In the present day, choosing where to live is one of the greatest contributing factors to individual happiness.

Nobody likes to feel trapped.

Here are the top ten happiest places to live in the United States. Maybe this will inspire you to seek your little bit of happiness.

Fremont, CA

Located just outside San Francisco, Fremont is home to a wonderful balance of urban pastimes and natural vistas.

With a population of just under 240,000 Fremont boasts many of the offerings of a larger city while still maintaining a gathering of smaller communities to give that hometown feel.

This balance lends itself to the city’s high happiness ranking.

Fremont has a bustling industry and a median annual income of $142,374.

Columbia, MD

With a setting similar to Fremont, Columbia maintains the small-town feel while close to Baltimore and Washington D.C. With quick access to these metropolitan centers, there are plenty of things to do.

Conversely, Columbia maintains a small-town vibe. The population hovers at just under 100,000 and boasts both a thriving industry and a wonderful educational system to provide for family needs.

San Francisco, CA

Known as a historically beautiful city, San Francisco has long embraced the cultural fusion associated with a geographic crossroads.

There’s always something happening.

Whether you are looking for food, theater, sports, or another tick on the happiness meter, San Francisco has something to offer.

Additionally, they have a wonderful variety of local parks and easy access to great state parks just outside the city.

They have a population of around 875,000.

San Jose, CA

Just a stone’s throw south of San Francisco, San Jose is part of thriving Silicon Valley. This offers multiple levels of job opportunities to support a median household income of $117,324.

Job security and opportunity lend themselves to an overall feeling of happiness.

In addition to stunning weather with a milder temperature range than southern California cities, San Jose offers a variety of things to do like diverse dining, theater, and a variety of convention options.

Irvine, CA

There is a trend toward California boasting happier people. This could have something to do with the weather or larger population centers with varied cultural experiences. Any way you slice it, people in California seem happier.

With beautiful weather and almost constant sunshine, Irvine has a lot of happiness to offer without touching on the high quality of life associated with the city.

From a multitude of state and local parks to jump into nature, Irvine offers a wide variety of dining options and a full range of job opportunities.

Madison, WI

Taking a detour from the California train, Madison, Wisconsin is making a push on the top ten charts.

Madison combines a perfect blend of a small city with a thriving culture, stashed right beside a wide variety of settings to take in the calming sounds of nature. In the area surrounding Madison, there is a superb selection of wild parks and hand-tended gardens.

With a quiet reserve, Madison offers a surprising depth to their food scene. They have a delightful balance of locally sourced restaurants and craft brew pubs.

Healthy eating, combined with natural exercise options is the perfect recipe for happiness.

Seattle, WA

While Seattle is known for rainy days and proximity to the ocean, the city offers more culture and varied activities than most cities of this size.

Hovering right around 750,000 residents, Seattle has everything you might want from a big city while maintaining the smaller size for getting around. They have sports, dining, culture, and nature all packed into a city made for walking.

Despite weather that some would categorize as depressing, Seattle carries a terrific, light atmosphere that keeps those clouds at bay.

Overland Park, KS

Smack dab in the middle of the country, Overland Park offers a wonderful selection of river walks, access to the cultural benefits of Kansas City, and variety to the weather to keep anyone on their toes.

In 2019 Overland Park was voted the best city to raise a family. They hold the title for top Farmer’s Market in the country. Plus, they are home to some mean barbecue.

Huntington Beach, CA

Located just down the coast from Los Angeles, Huntington Beach is home to a marvelous mix of culture, beaches, and community.

The cost of living may be high, but with proximity to LA, work options are plentiful. The sunshine never ends and the school systems are top-notch.

San Diego, CA

We’re still in California. San Diego may have slipped down the list from previous years, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a wonderful city to call home.

Similar to San Francisco, San Diego has wonderful variety in its culture. Food, arts, and proximity to natural offerings place San Diego near the top of the country’s happiest cities.

Sunshine, burritos, and some excellent schools should help keep this in the top ten for years to come.

Happiness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

As we stated, happiness is influenced by a wide variety of factors. Some cities lend themselves to a heightened state of happiness.

Some of that has to do with the weather, another part may be the inclusivity of the different neighborhoods, and a big part may be the freedom to choose where a person wants to put down roots.

At the end of the day, happiness has to do with seeking out the right inputs to facilitate growth as a person and finding contentment with your freedom of choice.

  1. Association for Psychological Science. Serious Research on Happiness. 2008. Available at
  2. Action for Happiness. 10 Keys to Happier Living. Available at
  3. Travel Lens. 16 Best Things to Do in Fremont, CA. 2022. Available at
  4. Fremont Population. 2022. Available at
  5. Data USA. Fremont, CA. 2020. Available at
  6. Columbia Association. Explore Columbia. 2022. Available at
  7. Embrace Someplace. 18+ Honest Pros & Cons of Living in San Francisco. 2022. Available at
  8. United States Census Bureau. San Jose City, California. 2020. Available at
  9. Visit San Jose California. Unhinged Halloween. 2022. Available at
  10. Greater Irvine Chamber: Destination Irvine. Welcome to Irvine. Available at
  11. Destination Madison. Top 10 Spots for Fall Colors in Madison. 2022. Available at
  12. Visit Seattle. Welcome to Seattle. 2022. Available at
  13. Trip Savvy. Getting Around Seattle: Guide to Public Transportation. 2022. Available at
  14. Overland Park, Kansas. Above and Beyond. By Design. 2022. Available at
  15. Niche. Places to Live in the Los Angeles Area. 2022. Available at
  16. San Diego. Explore San Diego’s Top Things to Do. 2022. Available at
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