Surprise! This Is the Happiest City in America

published Jun 18, 2024
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Minneapolis downtown skyline in Minnesota, USA at sunset
Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock

If you’re looking to add some extra happiness to your life, picking the right place to live can play a major part. After all, there’s nothing like sky-high rent, rentals covered in white paint, bumper-to-bumper traffic, or dreary winters to dampen your mood, while outdoor-friendly activities, a great food scene, and friendly people can transform a place into your forever home. 

While sunny San Diego or Austin might seem like the homes of the happiest individuals in the United States, the real place that’s just been named the happiest city might surprise you (if you don’t live there, that is). Minneapolis, Minnesota, was just crowned the city with the happiest residents in the country after an extensive global study — and this underrated Midwestern city has a lot going for it.

The findings come from a new happiness index from The Institute for Quality of Life, which compiles a list of the happiest cities around the world each year. In addition to analyzing exactly what happiness means to different people, the organization comes up with a way to measure and rank each city based on indicators that “directly relate to the quality of life and the sense of happiness of its residents.” They divided the data into five categories that inform happiness — citizens, governance, environment, economy, and mobility — and put the world’s cities to the test.

Through interviews and other forms of data, the Institute for Quality of Life found that Aarhus, Denmark — which is estimated to be home to only 367,095 residents — is the happiest city in the world. Meanwhile, Minneapolis, ranked 18th place overall, but was the happiest city in the U.S. by far. 

The Minnesota city ranked particularly high in the citizens, economy, and mobility categories. This means residents scored the Minnesota city highly on factors like social inclusion, their education system, access to culture, efficient and accessible public transportation, high productivity, and more.

While maybe not as well-known as some of its more highly populated Midwest neighbors like Chicago, Columbus, or Detroit, Minneapolis holds its own with a diverse population of young professionals, a bustling food scene, and a comparatively affordable cost of living. It also scores high for outdoors-loving residents, who gravitate towards its beautiful summers, numerous lakes, and over 100 parks. If you’ve been looking for a new city to move to, Minneapolis might be a good option to check out.