Western Cities Are Happier

Boulder tops a survey of the nation's happiest, healthiest cities
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Boulder tops a survey of the nation's happiest, healthiest cities

Apparently, BACKPACKER couldn't have picked a better place for headquarters. Boulder, Colo., tops a recent list of the happiest and healthiest cities in the nation: The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveyed over 350,000 people and asked them to rate their well-being based on jobs, finances, physical health, emotional state of mind and communities. When the results were tallied, our fair hamlet at the base of the Flatiron mountains came up king.

Researchers concluded that the happiest respondents tended to live in the west, while the unhappiest respondents lived in the south and east. The top ten happiest cities included include four in California, two in Utah, one in Colorado, and one in Hawaii. The only East or Midwest winners were Holland, Mich., and Washington D.C. (huh?). Here's the top ten:

1. Boulder, CO

2. Holland-Grand Haven, MI

3. Honolulu, HI

4. Provo-Orem, UT

5. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA

6. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA

7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

9. Ogden-Clearfield, UT

10. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA

Researchers largely credit Boulder's setting and quality of life offerings (plenty of open space, good schools, good weather) for boosting the serotonin levels of its inhabitants. The jobless rate is a mere 5.7 percent, compared to the nation's 9.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the bottom ten is dominated by the South and Rust Belt cities, with Huntington, W. Va., coming in dead last.

Where do you rank? Does your happiness match the results of your city in the survey? Let us know in the comments section below.

—Ted Alvarez

via USA Today