Have you heard the toe-tapping tune, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams? Apparently there are plenty of pockets across the nation where the hip-hop-rapper’s song has become a mantra.
So what factors constitute happiness in terms of location and livability? The real estate analytics firm, Movoto recently published its list of the ten happiest suburbs in the country. First off, Movoto’s analysts examined the 50 largest cities in the U.S. and chose 119 for further consideration. Then, data about each place was gathered and compared from a variety of sources, including the latest U.S. Census figures, the 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report and WalkScore.com.
To be considered, the communities had to score high in these seven areas: stress factors (high unemployment, long commutes, high cost of living)-personal safety (violent crimes)-percentage of residents making greater than $25,000 a year-married residents-home ownership-residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher-convenience to amenities. When all of the facts and figures were tallied and averaged, the top ten happiest cities rank from low to high as follows:
10. Cary, NC
The Raleigh suburb has experienced explosive growth in recent years. Thanks to the hi-tech opportunities available at Research Triangle Park plus the presence of several major universities, that have been recognized globally for their schools of medicine, architecture, engineering, law, and veterinary medicine programs, the job market here is solid. Cary was the largest suburb on the list, with 145,693 residents. Educated young families of professionals have set the bar high for education, culture and the arts, plus made it their goal to promote physical fitness throughout the community.
Definitely one of the nation’s best-kept secrets, Papillion packs a lot into a small package. Settled in the 1870s, as a railway stop, this Omaha suburb has just over 20,000 residents, most of whom are married and own their own homes. Locals do not miss the stresses of city life, thanks to plenty of wide- open spaces and trails, perfect for walking, biking, and hiking. For those who need a little more, the bells and whistles are here too, such as the Papio Bay Aquatic Center, Chocolaterie Stam, famous for fine European chocolates since 1913 and plenty of local eateries serving the stuffed Runza sandwich, a NE staple. What, never heard of a mouthwatering Runza?
8. Westerville, OH
With a higher than average annual salary, short commute times and family-friendly attractions like the Inniswood Metro Gardens and the Westerville Golf Center, no wonder folks here are happy! An amazing 70+ percent of the town’s 36,120 residents are homeowners, which definitely has a positive impact on local pride. Westerville may be small, but the living is easy thanks to low crime, fun shopping and dining spots along State Street and an award winning Parks and Recreation Department. It’s also nice to know that when a big city fix is needed, Columbus is just minutes away!
7. Cupertino, CA
Could it be that the picture here is so rosy because Cupertino is the longtime home for Apple Inc.’s corporate headquarters? Even though the San Jose suburb was incorporated in 1955, things only really took off within the last two decades. Around 15,000 residents are Apple employees, so maybe there is something to be said for the Steve Jobs business model. As one of the most educated cities in the country, around 75 percent of the population are college graduates. Like other communities on this list, high standards have been set for the town’s public schools, cultural and recreational facilities and amenities. The Golden State’s picture perfect weather may explain why Cupertino hosts an enviable number of concerts, festivals, and special events.
6. Apex, NC
Here’s another Raleigh suburb that has attracted young, educated residents. Apex ranked third best in terms of income and came in sixth for its impressively low crime rate. There are so many special events and things geared for connecting the community that it is almost impossible to keep track. Apex is no stranger to praise, consider these recent accolades: Best Places to Live: #9 in America, #1 in North Carolina CNN/Money Magazine (August 2013), #1 Best City in North Carolina, Movoto (November 2013), #5 Best NC Towns for Young Families, NerdWallet (July 2013), Best Places to Live: #14 in America, CNN/Money Magazine (July 2007).
5. Newton, MA
Among the top ten, Newton gets the prize for the most walkable! Founded in 1630, Newton is certainly the epitome of a charming New England village. In fact, it is comprised of thirteen villages, all just around 7 miles from Boston. Thanks to its excellent mass transit system, Newton got high marks for its commute times. It is known for its quaint historic neighborhoods, top-ranked public schools, and low crime rate. Considering that it is home to several colleges, including Boston College’s Newton Campus, Mount Ida College, and Lasell College, it is no wonder that over 75 percent of Newton’s residents are college educated.
4. Carmel, IN
With amenities like a $24.5 million water park that’s part of Carmel’s $55 million Central Park, every day’s a holiday! Scores of recreational and cultural options like the Monon Trail, Japanese tea house and garden and Old Town’s Art and Design District set this Indianapolis suburb apart from hundreds of cities its size. It has also become a hot spot for yoga enthusiasts and those looking for spa getaways. Maybe there’s something in the water, because a whopping 68 percent of Carmel’s residents have said, “I do.”
3. Germantown, TN
Is the population here so happy because of easy access to Memphis and that famous barbeque? It could be that Germantown’s residents just know a good thing when they see it. A high percentage of home ownership (over 83 percent) and excellent employment opportunities have made for a well-connected community. It has also come together in recognition of its historic roots as a railroad town settled by immigrants. The folks in Germantown celebrate that fact throughout the year. Another draw is that Germantown has become a favorite training ground for equestrians, thanks to its lovely wide-open spaces and gently rolling grassland.
2. Fishers, IN
Taking center stage is nothing new for the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers. Over the years it has been cited by numerous sources, including Forbes, Money, and BusinessWeek as one of the most desirable places to live in the U.S. The Movoto report concurs those findings, revealing that this number two city, ranked first for safety, second for income, and tied for sixth place for marriage and home ownership. Throughout the year, Fishers’ residents enjoy all types of happiness inducing activities, such as the Conner Prairie experience, a huge Renaissance festival, concerts galore, and the famous Freedom Festival each June.
1. Dublin, OH
And the winner is….! It became clear to Movoto’s analysts that the Columbus suburb of Dublin had too many positive qualities to be ignored. In the final count, “the income here ranked No. 1, with less than 5 percent of residents making less than $25,000 a year.” To make things even sweeter, nearly three fourths of Dublin’s population is college educated. Well over half of the locals are married, and most homes are owned rather than rented. Over half of the town’s homes are owned and low crime figures help all of those homeowners rest easy. As with the other small towns considered for the list, Dublin’s community stays busy and connected with loads of special activities, festivals, and concerts all year long. Why not make plans to be in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day? Word has it that it’s not to be missed!
Please visit the Movoto site here, to see the entire article and real estate listings for all 10 locations. Movoto has also published several other popular top-ten lists, check them out!
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