The 10 best, and worst, places to live in the US
Nestled in the swampy, crocodile-infested Everglades lies a small community of people who know how to live the good life.
For the third year in a row, the Naples area — which includes Marco Island and Immokalee, Florida — has scored the top spot among 186 cities for the overall well-being of its residents, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, released Tuesday. People living in Naples score highly on every measure the survey of more than 150,000 people measured: the quality of their relationships, their finances, how they view their community, their health and their sense of purpose in life.
“This is the first time we’ve had a three-peat winner across the 10 years of doing this so that’s pretty impressive,” says Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. “They even tightened their grip on the top position, moving up one point [from last year].” This happened despite the fact that, overall, 2017, was a year when Americans plummeted into record levels of misery, as Moneyish recently reported. And, what’s more, “Naples was among the top two communities in the U.S. across all five elements of well-being, marking the first time that a single community has shown such expansive well-being,” the report concludes.
Residents of Naples don’t need a survey to tell them that their city is a happy place. Just ask 39-year-old Loan Trinh, a business and mortgage consultant who moved to Naples last year from Houston, where she’d lived her entire life, “purely for the lifestyle change,” she tells Moneyish. “Houston is very busy, and I love being outdoors and staying active,” she says of the move. “In Naples I bike all the time, go to the beach, do yoga … and everyone here is nice and welcoming.”
10 cities where residents have the highest levels of well-being
- Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL
- Barnstable Town, MA
- Boulder, CO
- Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
- Charlottesville, VA
- Lynchburg, VA
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
- Santa Rosa, CA
- Prescott, AZ
- San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Granda, CA
Gallup’s Witters notes that Naples wasn’t always that way. In 2011, it ranked 73rd in terms of overall well-being. But it adopted something called the Blue Zones Project, which works with the community and businesses from restaurants to schools to grocery stores to improve the health and connectivity of communities. That led to increased sidewalks, bike lanes, streetscapes and green spaces, as well as smoke-free areas near playgroups and litter-elimination campaigns. That, says Witters, likely played a large role in Naples major jump in well-being: It now has the lowest stress and depression rates in the nation, he adds. Naples’ score is also boosted by the fact that it has a high percentage of seniors, who tend to be happier overall, says Witters.
But while Naples is bucking the trend of falling wellbeing — some places aren’t so lucky, particularly in the south. “About half of the lowest 25 well-being communities are located in the South, a region that saw significant declines in statewide well-being in 2017,” the report notes. These locales tend to have low scores on everything from financial well-being to overall health.
10 cities where residents have the lowest levels of well-being
- Fort Smith, AR-OK
- Canton-Massillon, OH
- Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS
- Hickory-Lenoir-Morgantown, NC
- Binghamton, NY
- South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI
- Erie, PA
- Fayetteville, NC
- Rockford, IL
- Flint, MI
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