When you’re putting down roots to raise a family, what’s a better selling point than living in one of the happiest cities in the United States?

Looking at 250,000 surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015, the massive new National Geographic Gallup Special/Blue Zones Index determined residents of Boulder, Colorado, are the most joyful in the country—followed by those of Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

“There’s a high correlation between bikeability and happiness in a city,” says National Geographic’s Dan Buettner. “In Boulder you’re more likely to hear the whoosh of a cyclist than the shrill of a siren compared to places like Dallas, Tallahassee, or Los Angeles. Cities like Boulder question the unquestioned virtues of development.”

The findings were based on 15 key metrics that Gallup scientists say “signal happiness.” These include: eating habits, opportunities to learn something new on a daily basis, civic engagement, financial security, vacation time and even access to dental healthcare. (Yep, the researchers found a high correlation between people who frequent the dentist and have high levels of satisfaction.)

You can be sure to find more happy folks in these places:

1. Boulder, Colorado

2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California

3. Charlottesville, Virginia

4. Fort Collins, Colorado

5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California

6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California

7. Provo-Orem, Utah

8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

10. Anchorage, Alaska

11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida

12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California

13. Salinas, California

14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

15. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

16. Ann Arbor, Michigan

17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

18. Colorado Springs, Colorado

19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire

20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Venture, California

21. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia

22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota

23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California

24. Portland-South Portland, Maine

25. Austin-Red Rock, Texas

Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of overlap with where millennials are actually moving to start their families—but there is crossover between the “happiest places” and “best places to raise a family” lists in Minneapolis. So if you’re comfortable in a heavy winter coat, a home in the land of 10,000 lakes may be a good bet for everyone in the family.

Having a newborn is challenging at the best of times, but during forced isolation and in a climate of fear and uncertainty, it can become overwhelming.

The coronavirus pandemic is setting up our communities for genuine mental health concerns. This may be especially true for new parents. When will 'normal' life return? How will I pay for diapers and baby food? Will my mom be able to help us now? What if my baby or my family get COVID-19? Unfortunately, no one knows the long-term impact or answers just yet.

Most families have built a network of social support by the time they have their first child—if they don't already have a support system, they develop one through various baby classes and groups set up for parents. The creation of the village can be instrumental to the mental health of new parents. Social distancing, the lockdown of cities, and isolation will inadvertently affect the type of support available.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Raising a mentally strong kid doesn't mean he won't cry when he's sad or that he won't fail sometimes. Mental strength won't make your child immune to hardship—but it also won't cause him to suppress his emotions.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks. It gives them the strength to keep going, even when they're plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.

But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common yet unhealthy parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid equipped to tackle life's toughest challenges:

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play