The 25 best cities to move to if you want to be happy

Would you be happier if you lived somewhere else?

According to a new survey of a half-million people across the nation, those who call Boulder, Colorado home reported being the happiest in the country — based on 15 different categories ranging from physical activity and healthy eating to vacation time and financial stability.

The list of the 25 Happiest Places in the United States, produced by National Geographic in connection with author Dan Buettner — whose book Blue Zones of Happiness shares advice from happy people around the globe — and national polling organization Gallup, lays out the top places where you can be surrounded by chipper, cheerful people.

Here are the 25 happiest places in the country

Boulder, Colorado

“Bolstered by a sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development and preservation policies, and perhaps even that clean mountain air, Boulderites overwhelmingly feel ‘active and productive every day,’” National Geographic concluded. “Per capita, more people walk to work in Boulder than in any other city in the U.S. Low rates of smoking and obesity, and high rates of exercise, contribute to the satisfaction locals feel.”

Santa Cruz-Watsonville

With the nation’s oldest amusement park and extensive coastal access, Santa Cruz is a paradise for surfers and beach-goers. It’s also a short distance from the area’s breathtaking redwood forests.

Charlottesville, Virginia



Recent controversial protests notwithstanding, Charlottesville ranked high on the National Geographic/Gallup poll in terms of overall happiness — both for its educational outposts of the University of Virginia as well as its access to the picturesque and hike-friendly Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins has a wealth of natural beauty, including Arapaho national forest, the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, with waterfalls, and abundant hiking, biking and water sport activities. In addition, according to National Geographic, Fort Collins’ Old Town storefronts inspired the creators of Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A.

San Luis Obispo, California

With endless hiking trails, artists studios and outdoor markets — as well as a famous Bubblegum Alley where the walls are covered with, you guessed it, chewed bubblegum — San Luis Obispo is a hub of happiness.

San Jose, California

The epicenter of Silicon Valley, San Jose features a host of outdoor recreational facilities as well as the legendary Winchester mystery house, wildlife habitats and museums.

Provo, Utah

Provo boasts access to picturesque mountains, waterfalls and ample hiking, as well as museums and dining options.

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

This metro area is just 40 miles from NYC, has plentiful public transportation, and features the highest concentration of corporations in the nation, according to National Geographic.

Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

Located on Cape Cod, Barnstable Town is a recreational paradise where residents and visitors can whale watch, boat, golf, check out wildlife sanctuaries and visit museums and historical sites

Anchorage, Alaska

In addition to being one of the happiest cities, Anchorage also was recently named one of the most hard working cities in the nation.

Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida

This coastal town is known as much for its high-end real estate as for its pristine beaches, not to mention its upscale shopping. It also features botanical gardens, zoos and state parks.

Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California

The coastal town is flanked by the Santa Ynez mountains, features architecture dating back to its former Spanish inhabitants and has a stretch of beaches and quick proximity to a host of California wine tours.

Salinas, California

Located just south of the Bay area, Salinas was home to author John Steinbeck and boasts a museum in his honor, along with a number of parks, zoos and gardens.

North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu’s reputation as a paradise is borne out by its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, as well as by abundant natural treasures including volcanoes, parks and hiking.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and a collection of museums, botanical gardens and arboretums.

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

The picturesque west coast city — which has been the set of countless movies and TV shows — offers abundant recreational options for those who love the outdoors as well as rich culinary and cultural offerings.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

The stunning natural beauty of Colorado comes through again in Colorado Springs, located at the base of the Rockies and near the glacier-carved Pikes Peak. The town also boasts the Garden of the Gods, a park with red sandstone rock formations.

Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire

The riverfront town is home to The Currier Museum of Art, which lays claim to original Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe works, a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building, and historic sites tracing the town’s history as a manufacturing and textile hub.

Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California

This coastal town has beaches for sunning, surfing and windsurfing and an historic main street with churches that dates back to 1809. You can also take an easy day trip to Channel Islands National Park, where wildlife including seals, foxes and birds await along with caves to explore.

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia/Virginia

While its role as the seat of government gets all the attention, the greater Washington D.C.-Virginia area is a walkable city with many hiking, biking and walking trails and access to nightlife and dining. Locals are surrounded by museums, historical sites and public transportation

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Home to the Mall of America, the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area also includes a sea life aquarium, football, hockey and cultural hotspots including the Walker Art Center sculpture garden.

San Diego-Carlsbad, California

The coastal city is home to a collection of surfing beaches, gorgeous flower fields with acres of seasonal wildflowers, and a Legoland California theme park.

Portland, Maine

The port city is a hub of culture, history and natural treasures, from a host of parks and water activities including kayaking and boating to easy access to skiing and beaches.

Austin, Texas

Rounding out the list is Austin, where the annual South by Southwest festival has catapulted the southern town into the forefront of music, art, film, food and tech. Homegrown artist and Boyhood writer/director Richard Linklater has set up his production shop Detour Filmproduction in town and University of Texas-Austin keeps a steady flow of young students cycling through the city.

36 thoughts on “The 25 best cities to move to if you want to be happy

  1. Tubularsock would recommend being happy wherever you are no matter what Gallup makes up! Remember you are with you wherever you go! It all works from the inside out NOT the other way around!

  2. Oh I would definitely be happier if you lived somewhere else! And I’ve been trying to escape for a very long time. (So I can also attest that one of the cities on this list misses the mark! LOL.)
    Lovely ideas Mirhan. Thanks for sharing. Have a fabulous Friday. Hugs.

    1. Teagan – LOL – Great practice and exercise and travel around the cities…To travel is like a second university filled with many great adventures and surprises!

  3. Thank you, Mihran for this wonderful post. I live in San Diego and was surprised to see so many California cities featured. Have a lovely weekend. Christine

    1. Hi Christine – I agree with you – My grandparents live on Coronado Island and my best location is La Jolla….Have a blessed week and joy!!

  4. How interesting this post is, Mihran! I was also surprised to see many Calif. cities, as I live near S.F. There are some places on your list, though, that I’d love to visit. Thanks for sharing, and have a good weekend!

    1. Thank you kindly for your great and valuable thoughts….My favorite location in California is La Jolla or Coronado Island in San Diego, I feel with these locations surrounded with water, beautiful nature, excellent weather, like walking to Europe!!

  5. Enjoyable post Mihran, I have never visited America and only know on what I read, every place you mention has great qualities for living life to the fullest, I could spend the next ten years just touring those places, Charlotesville I think has a pioneering background, and as for Salinas California, I recall a song about that place, think it was mentioned in the song Bobby Magee. Cheers.

    1. wow – this is indeed a great enjoyable words and comments to read…I very much appreciate you sharing a great and valuable perspective. You are correct in sharing great informational values. I hope you to see you coming to visit USA soon!!

    1. I agree with you…My parents mentioned about Charleston, SC…They always enjoyed visiting their and being surrounded with great friends and joy!!

    1. Seattle is one my favorites, misty rain…I also enjoy the East side of Seattle such as Kirkland, its downtown with great view, walking around the neighborhoods.

    1. Thank you for your kind words…..I agree with your comment, it brings such joy to enjoy the nature and wild landscape, its the best meditation for me!!

  6. That’s an extensive list! I would be tempted to go back to California but I’d be waiting for the Big One (earthquake) all the time! Have you been to any of these cities? I know you are well-traveled.

  7. What beautiful inviting places Mihran and such vibrant places to explore. A home is where the heart is, my own is on the other side of the Pond. 😀 Here in the UK 🙂 Where among the hills can be found many wonderful places of beauty.
    Wishing you well Mihran and sending well wishes for the start of a new week.
    Sue 🙂

  8. California and Colorado seem to be two popular places! I see them both multiple times on the list. I’ve never been to Colorado but may just have to now 😉 Great list!

  9. I love this post! Places I may never even get a chance to visit, let alone live, but it’s wonderful to take a little virtual vacation to these places and read some interesting information. Thanks so much for the lovely tour Mihran!


  10. I was surprised to see my city, Minneapolis on the list! Not the best place to be happy at in February, when the winter gets old, but spring is around the corner! What beautiful places you’ve highlighted!


    1. Yes, this is such a diverse and beautiful surprise to see different cities, each of them brings us a great culture and history. Thank you for your comments…

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