These Are the Happiest States in America, According to One Study

published Dec 6, 2021
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Smiling woman with curly brown hair wearing tie dyed tank top with green grass behind her
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After 2020 found more people than ever rethinking where they call home, the allure to move to greener pastures — in some cases, quite literally, for city-dwellers itching for more space — has potentially never been stronger. And while every state in the U.S. has plenty of things to love, one company did some research to determine the top three happiest states in America, detailing the many factors that make residents truly happy.

The pros at Amerisleep know that happiness is attributed to multiple different and seemingly unrelated factors, until you realize how deeply connected they truly are. So they set out to determine the three happiest states in the country and ranked all 50 states based on numerous criteria, including health, education, environment, work-life balance, safety, housing, and income.

They noted that health ranks as U.S. residents’ top contributor toward overall happiness, citing the OECD Better Life Index. They included four separate factors within the category — depression rate, sleep, suicide numbers, and number of hospitals per capita. North Dakota ranks the highest while West Virginia ranks the lowest of all 50 states. 

North Dakota earned top honors for its health score, as well as for having the highest level of income growth over the past year, the second-best score for open spaces and beauty, and the highest number of national parks in the country.

Coming in second place is Vermont, which ranked third overall in the health category (sandwiched between was New Jersey, which was lowered due to its environmental and educational low scores). Of course, there’s plenty of gorgeous greenery and enviable scenery in Vermont as well, which no doubt helps to boost residents’ happiness levels.

In third place is Nebraska, which boasts the top work-life balance of any state in the U.S. thanks to factors such as commute time, number of health clubs, and average working hours among residents.

Check out the full research here for detailed rankings — if you’re looking to make a big move in the upcoming year, you won’t want to overlook some of the happiest states out there, as they’ve all got plenty to offer.