Move over Disneyland. It’s actually Fremont that ranks as the happiest place — if not on the entire earth, then at least in the United States.
The Alameda County city came in at No. 1 in a new report ranking Happiest Cities in America in 2022. The report, conducted annually by the personal finance website WalletHub, compared 182 of the largest US cities in 30 “key indicators of happiness,” including instances of depression, average income growth and leisure time spent per day.
“Location plays a hand in how bright or gloomy our days are,” according to the study. “For years, researchers have studied the science of happiness and found that its key ingredients include a positive mental state, healthy body, strong social connections, job satisfaction and financial well-being. However, money can only make you so happy — people who make $75,000 a year won’t get any higher satisfaction from more money. Also consider the fact that while the US is one of the richest countries, it ranks only 14th on the World Happiness Report.”
The Bay Area was overall well represented, holding down three of top five spots on the list. Joining in Fremont in the upper echelon were San Francisco and San Jose, which placed at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. (No. 2 is Columbia, Maryland.)
Other Bay Area/NorCal cities to make the list included:
14) Santa Rosa
Fremont excelled in a number of individual happiness indicators, coming in at No. 2 (just behind Pearl City, Hawaii) for lowest depression rate; No. 4 for highest sports participation rate; and no. 1 for lowest separation/divorce rate.
Not surprisingly, the study remarked about how difficult the last two years have been for people and their pursuit of happiness.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a third of Americans to be so stressed that they sometimes find it hard to make basic decisions,” according to the study. “Therefore, it’s vital for people to boost their happiness however they can, whether through family, friends, activities, entertainment or work. What people might not realize is that where they live may also determine how happy they are.”
While the Bay Area dominated the top 5 happiest cities list, the Golden State did not come in at No. 1 on WalletHub’s list of happiest states. Instead, California placed at No. 4 — which is still pretty happy, right? — just behind (in order) Utah, Minnesota and Hawaii.
“In this study, WalletHub drew upon the findings of ‘happiness’ research to determine which environmental factors are linked to a person’s overall well-being and satisfaction with life,” according to the study on Happiest States in America. “Previous studies have found that good economic, emotional, physical and social health are all key to a well-balanced and fulfilled life.
“To determine where Americans exhibit the best combination of these factors, we examined the 50 states across 31 key metrics, ranging from the depression rate and the positive COVID-19 testing rate to income growth and the unemployment rate.”