The 10 Happiest Places

While college might make you think of finals week and a ton of homework, this place is actually known as The Happy Valley by many locals.

Why? For starters, Psychology Today ranked this little Pennsylvania locale as one of the least stressful places in the United States. That’s certainly something to feel glad about.

Our numbers pretty much back up that low-stress environment, too. Only about 12 percent of folks here made below $25,000 a year, and the highest percent of people owned their homes rather than renting.

The commute was the fifth lowest, the married percent of people ranked 22nd. Even the walkability here was No. 19 on our list.

In fact, the only area where State College wasn’t in the top third of scores was in percent of people with at least a Bachelor’s degree.

To be fair, though, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is partially in this city, where most people are simply in the process of getting their degree, so these folks are probably more educated than this number shows.


Our Methodology

In order to spread a little sunshine to the already pretty happy places in our Big Deal List, we turned to the magic of numbers.

First, we made a list of all the places in the U.S. that were between 61,000 and 40,000 people in size. Using sources like the 1010 U.S. Census, the 2012 FBI /Uniform Crime Report, and, we collected data in seven different joy-inducing criteria:

  • Stress factors (including unemployment, commutes, and cost of living)
  • Personal safety (violent crimes per 100,000 people)
  • Percent of residents making greater than $25,000/year
  • Percent of married residents
  • Home ownership
  • Percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Walkability score

We omitted any places that didn’t have data, which left us with a total of 391 different places. Then, we ranked each place in each category from one to 391, with scores closer to one being better.

Finally, we averaged each place’s rankings into one Big Deal Score, with lower numbered scores being happier. All of that came out to State College, PA being the happiest little place around.

Of course, there’s more to happiness than just cold, hard data, right? Let’s take a closer look at each of our top places, and see just why they smile brighter and laugh louder than the rest.

By Movoto Real Estate

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