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The Happiest Cities in the U.S., According to National Geographic

Where do the happiest people in America live? The answer may surprise you.

Austin, Texas

Most people might assume that location does not have much to do with happiness, but, according to a new study from National Geographic, that is not the case. The happiest Americans lived in the west and along the coast, while those who were not quite so happy lived in the eastern central part of the U.S.

Gallup senior scientist Dan Witters, along with National Geographic’s bestselling author, Dan Buettner, designed the study with 15 metrics that contributed to happiness such as eating healthy, financial security, and believe it or not, dental checkups. The index was also made up of 250,000 interviews in 190 metropolitan areas. 

The qualities of the place we live, a sense of community and opportunity can have a great impact on how happy we feel. Boulder, Colorado was number 1 on the list for those reasons. Its tight-knit community, access to nature, and its clean mountain air are what contribute to Boulder’s ranking of happiest city in the U.S. Its residents are known to be active and productive. More people walk to work in Boulder than in any other city in the U.S, according to Buettner’s study.


Other cities ranked high on the list include Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Anchorage, Alaska. Austin, Texas rounded out the list of the happiest 25 cities. The National Geographic index also tracked factors stastically associated with feeling good, including taking vacations and having enough money to cover essential items and needs. According to Buettner, locals in happier places have more access to green environments and also seem to smile, laugh, and socialize more often. 

Most people enjoy traveling but not many take into consideration that the location, rather than the traveling, is what brings them joy. “My findings indicate that if you want to get happy, don’t try to change your belief system,” Buettner told National Geographic. “Change your environment.”

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