2022 happiest places to live in the US: California cities dominate

These days, Americans have a lot to be stressed out about. While coronavirus case numbers are falling globally, the World Health Organization says it is too early to declare the pandemic over. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a refugee crisis and roiled markets — with U.S. and European officials predicting the conflict will only worsen.

While the cities Americans live in should give them solace, it turns out that some places might be stressing them out more than people think. Reseachers have found that people’s living arrangements could greatly impact their mental health.

WalletHub, a finance website that helps users learn more about their loans and credit scores, compiled its annual list of the happiest places to live in the United States — and it looks like the West Coast is the best place to be.

WalletHub ranked these locations after examining the depression rate in each U.S city, a resident’s income growth rate, the amount of leisure time they spend per day and other factors.

Here are the top five U.S. cities:

1. Fremont, California

WalletHub lists Fremont, California, in its 2022 list as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America.pankajd7 / Getty Images/500px

Fremont, California, takes the top spot as the happiest city in the United States. It is located near Silicon Valley on the southeast side of San Francisco Bay and has a population of more than 231,000 people.

In 2021, the CDP, a nonprofit charity that runs the global environmental disclosure system for business and subnational governments, gave the town an A ranking for taking action on climate change.

Not only that, last year, WalletHub ranked Fremont as one of America’s least stressed cities and the second-best place to raise a family. It also ranked No. 5 as the most caring city in the U.S, and this year, WalletHub named it the city with the lowest separation and divorce rate.

2. Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland
WalletHub lists Columbia, Maryland, in its 2022 list as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America.DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Columbia boasts a diverse population of 53.% white, 26.6% Black or African American, 12.7% Asian and 9.4% Hispanic or Latino residents, per the Census Bureau‘s 2021 report.

With a population of nearly 100,000 people, Columbia still feels cosmopolitan with its access to three international airports. And the city’s downtown area houses more than 2,500 large and small companies and more than 50 nonprofit organizations, making the town’s employment rate very attractive.

In 2021, WalletHub ranked Columbia as the best city to find a job and the safest city in America. This year, WalletHub also recognized Columbia as being the second place in the United States with the lowest suicide rate.

3. San Francisco, California

WalletHub lists San Francisco, California, in its 2022 list as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America.
WalletHub lists San Francisco, California, in its 2022 list as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America.Steve Proehl / Getty Images

San Francisco is home to some famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Ferry Building Marketplace. The city, with its gorgeous ocean views and access to numerous hiking trails, is so alluring that before the pandemic, it got millions of tourists a year who spent roughly $24.5 million a day on the city’s attractions.

Although those numbers have since fallen since COVID-19 protocols started taking place in 2020, San Francisco is still considered to be one of the best tourist attractions in the United States.

The city is known for its food festivals that feature cuisine from all over the world, like a Taste of Greece and the annual Soy & Tofu Festival, which features a fun tofu eating contest.

In 2021, WalletHub ranked San Francisco as the fourth best place in the U.S to cater to vegans behind Los Angeles, Orlando, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.

4. San Jose, California

WalletHub lists San Jose, California, in its 2022 list as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America.
WalletHub lists San Jose, California, in its 2022 list as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America.Keith Lance / Getty Images

Don’t overlook San Jose, California, which is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. This year, WalletHub ranked it No. 4 for having the lowest depression rate in America and No. 5 for having the lowest separation and divorce rate.

When tourists visit this humble town, they love to see the Winchester Mystery House, which was made famous by Helen Mirren in her 2018 film “Winchester.”

Although San Jose might seem like the perfect place to buy a home, it’s worth noting that the tech boom has considerably raised the cost of living there.

However, this isn’t all bad because Silicon Valley also brought a lot of attention to the Northern Californian town.

Santana Row, a residential district in West San Jose, houses more than 50 shops and 30 restaurants, so there’s always something to do. Dining options can range from a good old-fashioned hamburger to the most exquisite Asian cuisine. Residents like to call Santana Row the Rodeo Drive of Silicon Valley.

South San Jose is also perfect for those who like to spend their time outdoors, as it has some of the best access to hiking and biking trails. If you take a trip to Alum Rock, you’ll find San Jose’s Lick Observatory and Raging Waters water park.

5. Irvine, California

North Lake at twilight, Irvine, California
WalletHub lists Irvine, California, in its 2022 list as one of the happiest cities in the United States of America.Eric Lo / Getty Images

With long sunny days, Irvine, California, prides itself on being a family-oriented town. In 2021, WalletHub ranked it as No. 3 on its list for the best places to raise a family. It also tied with Scottsdale, Arizona, this year as the fifth-best U.S city with the highest sports-participation rate.

According to the city’s official website, Irvine can give kids a “first-class public education.” The Irvine Unified School District states that its been “nationally recognized for comprehensive programs in academics, the arts, and athletics.”

Irvine is also great for its recreation experiences. It has 23 community parks, 146 athletic fields and one regional park. Not to mention, Niche — a website that connects schools with students — ranked Irvine as the second healthiest place to live in America in 2021.

More happy places to live in the U.S 2022

  • 6. Madison, Wisconsin
  • 7. Seattle, Washington
  • 8. Overland Park, Kansas
  • 9. Huntington Beach, California

10. San Diego, California

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