The Happiest Cities in America Are in California, According to a New Study—See Where Yours Ranks on the List

Fremont took the top spot as the country's most joyful city.

happy family in front of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Photo: Adam Hester / GETTY IMAGES

From listening to music to spending time with friends, you likely do certain things to bring happiness to your life. However, there's another factor that could play a role in your joy: where you live. After researching 180 of the biggest cities across the United States, the team at WalletHub discovered the happiest cities in the country—and Fremont, Calif., took the top spot for the second year in a row.

The team used three key dimensions to determine that Fremont is the happiest city across the country: emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment. From there, they measured each dimension with 30 key indicators of happiness, including the depression rate, the income-growth rate, and average leisure time spent each day.

After grading each city on a 100-point scale (with 100 being the highest grade of happiness on the spectrum), they found that Fremont, Calif., had a 76.10 total score, ranking first in emotional and physical well-being, 34th in income and employment, and first in community and environment. This score is just below last year's, when the city earned a 77.13 rating.

Another California city came in second on the list: San Jose, Calif. This location had a 70.35 score out of 100, ranking second in emotional and physical well-being, and third in income and employment. Madison, Wis., rounded out the top three with a score of 69.72, coming in at number five for emotional and physical well-being, and number eight for community and environment.

If you're curious where your home city landed on this happiness list, here are the 20 most joyful places to live—and visit Wallethub for the complete city rankings.

The Happiest Cities Across the Country

  1. Fremont, Calif.
  2. San Jose, Calif.
  3. Madison, Wis.
  4. Overland Park, Kan.
  5. San Francisco, Calif.
  6. Irvine, Calif.
  7. Columbia, Md.
  8. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  9. South Burlington, Vt.
  10. Burlington, Vt.
  11. Seattle, Wash.
  12. Bismarck, N.D.
  13. Oakland, Calif.
  14. Huntington Beach, Calif.
  15. San Diego, Calif.
  16. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  17. Minneapolis, Minn.
  18. Yonkers, N.Y.
  19. Aurora, Ill.
  20. Fargo, N.D.
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