Residents of Sarasota, Florida, and the surrounding communities of North Port and Bradenton, reported the highest levels of happiness among the country’s 100 biggest metro areas, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released this week.
The report is based on responses from more than 176,000 randomly-selected adults across 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers wanted to know: Do you like where you live? Are you in good health? Do you have love in your life? Do you like what you do each day? Can you make ends meet?
Like Sarasota, some of the top raking cities in the index have a warm climate and a scenic setting. But those attractive features don’t always play a role in happiness, one of the report’s authors told TODAY.
“If you’re looking for a single underlying factor — outside of easy on the eyes or year-round outdoor weather— you probably would point to a culture of well-being,” said Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
“Culture is something that’s hard to scientifically measure, but it’s very real and significant.”
Here are the top 10 cities on the list:
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
- El Paso, Texas
- Austin-Round Rock, Texas
- Provo-Orem, Utah
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Residents of cities that were highly ranked had certain things in common: They exercised more often, were much less likely to be obese, had fewer health problems and felt safe where they lived.
They were also more likely to live within their means and manage their money effectively. They consistently told researchers they learned new and interesting things – through work or in other ways — every day, an important psychological need, Witters said.
“That’s one reason why college towns or cities that have a heavy academic presence tend to score high in well-being,” he added.