ACROSS CALIFORNIA — In some cases, money does lead to happiness. That’s according to a 2021 study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania who found there is a correlation between happiness and income.

However, not all places can offer the same level of happiness, as some cities have better economic opportunities and a better quality of life, according to a study by SmartAsset.

To uncover the happiest places in America, SmartAsset analyzed 164 of the largest U.S. cities across 13 metrics including personal finance, well-being, and quality of life.

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The findings showed that 17 California cities ranked among the top 50 happiest places in America, with five in the top 10.

No. 1: Sunnyvale, CA

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“Well-being and quality of life is where Sunnyvale, California ranks best. The city has the highest percentage of individuals earning $100,000 or more (62.5%), the third-lowest percentage of adults living below the poverty-level (roughly 5%) and the fifth-highest marriage rate (56.8%). Violent crime in the area is also low (No. 9) with roughly 149 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.”

No. 4: Fremont, CA

“Fremont, California ranks No. 3 for both its high percentage of individuals earning $100,000 or more (55.4%) and its low living costs relative to income (32.17%). The city also ranks No. 2 for both the percentage of adults who live below the poverty-level (4.9%) and its marriage rate (61.6%).”

No. 7: Roseville, CA

“Living costs in Roseville, California are the fifth-lowest across the study making up about a third of the median household income annually. Just over 38% of the city’s population earn $100,000 or more (13th-highest) and less than 6% live below the poverty-level (fourth-lowest). The county in which Roseville is located also has the 15th-lowest number of personal bankruptcy filings study-wide.”

No. 8: San Jose, CA

“Roughly 43% of San Jose, California residents earn $100,000 or more (10th-highest) and less than 7.4% live in poverty (eighth-lowest). Additionally, Santa Clara County – where San Jose is located – takes the No. 2 spot for both the percentage of residents reporting poor mental health days (10%) and life expectancy (84.7 years).”

No. 9: Santa Clarita, CA

“Santa Clarita, California ranks best in the quality of life category, taking the No. 8 spot. Specifically, less than 7% of the city’s population live in poverty (sixth-lowest) and roughly 53% of residents are married (10th-highest). The area is also pretty safe, with the seventh-lowest violent crime rate study-wide (roughly 131 crimes per 100,000 residents).”

No. 10: Irvine, CA

“Irvine, California ranks in the top 10 for both the percentage of individuals earning $100,000 or more (nearly 46%) and living costs as a percent of income (roughly 38%). Irvine also has the No. 1 lowest violent crime rate study-wide (51 crimes for every 100,000 residents). Additionally, the county in which Irvine is located is also No. 10 for both the percentage of residents reporting poor mental health days (11.3) and life expectancy (82.8 years).”

Rounding out the study’s Top 50 Happiest Cities In America are these 11 California cities:

  • No. 11 Hungtington Beach
  • No. 14 San Francisco
  • No. 17 Hayward
  • No. 21 Glendale
  • No. 25 Santa Rosa
  • No. 27 Fullerton
  • No. 31 San Diego
  • No. 32 Oakland
  • No. 44 Corona
  • No. 45 Chula Vista
  • No. 50 Sacramento

See the full report here.


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