Things have been stressful lately, so we got to wondering what the happiest city in North Carolina might be.

Finding things to be happy about may seem like a difficult task after two years of a pandemic, and increasing tension in Ukraine and other parts of the world.

But the folks at WalletHub.com put together a bunch of data to figure out the happiest city in North Carolina, and the rest of the country for that matter.

“Location plays a hand in how bright or gloomy our days are. For years, researchers have studied the science of happiness and found that its key ingredients include a positive mental state, healthy body, strong social connections, job satisfaction and financial well-being. However, money can only make you so happy – people who make $75,000 a year won’t get any higher satisfaction from more money. Consider also the fact that while the U.S. is one of the richest countries, it ranks only 14th on the World Happiness Report.”

So what about here in North Carolina? WalletHub ranked the top 182 metro cities in the country on things like Emotional & Physical Well Being, Income & Employment, and Community & Environment. There were a lot of data points in each of those categories as well. Many of them revolved around money, but does money really buy happiness?

“In general, research suggests that above a baseline level of income, there is a relatively small relationship between money and happiness,” said Alyssa Westring, Vincent de Paul Professor of Management at Depaul University. “Interestingly, researchers have begun to question whether it is not only how much money you have that matters, but how you spend it. When people spend money in ways that align with their personality and values, they tend to feel greater happiness than when there is a misalignment.”

Crunch all the numbers together, and here’s the happiest cities in North Carolina, followed by the happiest in the country:

  • No. 27 - Raleigh

    Raleigh comes out as the happiest city in North Carolina, largely thanks to a rank of No. 23 in Emotional & Physical Well Being.

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 23
    • Income & Employment: 71
    • Community & Environment: 63
    • Total Score: 62.35
  • No. 67 - Charlotte

    It’s a big jump down to the second happiest city in North Carolina. The Queen City had even marks in the three big categories, with ranks of 61-78-68.

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 61
    • Income & Employment: 78
    • Community & Environment: 68
    • Total Score: 57.61
  • No. 74 - Durham

    Durham got a big boost ranking No. 54 in Emotional & Physical Well Being. But the rank of No. 123 in Community & Environment hurt it overall.

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 54
    • Income & Employment: 69
    • Community & Environment: 123
    • Total Score: 56.92
  • No. 129 - Winston-Salem

    A huge leap down from Durham finds Winston-Salem, which was hurt largely by a rank of No. 138 in Emotional & Physical Well Being.

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 138
    • Income & Employment: 94
    • Community & Environment: 97
    • Total Score: 49.43
  • No. 137 - Greensboro

    Greensboro got a fairly decent boost thanks to a rank of No. 70 in Income & Employment.

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 129
    • Income & Employment: 70
    • Community & Environment: 167
    • Total Score: 48.12
  • No. 168 - Fayetteville

    It’s not that things are all unhappy around Fayetteville, it’s just that we didn’t exactly score well in a lot of the key factors for this study. Fayetteville does rank as the least happy of the major North Carolina cities in the study. Just behind Fayetteville overall is Jackson, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama.

    Fayetteville also took a hit, coming in at No. 181 on Lowest Income Growth and No. 180 on Most Work Hours.

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 161
    • Income & Employment: 155
    • Community & Environment: 171
    • Total Score: 40.83
  • No. 1 overall - Fremont, California

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 1
    • Income & Employment: 46
    • Community & Environment: 2
    • Total Score: 77.13
  • No. 2 - Columbia, Maryland

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 3
    • Income & Employment: 161
    • Community & Environment: 5
    • Total Score: 71.64
  • No. 3 - San Francisco, California

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 4
    • Income & Employment: 1
    • Community & Environment: 44
    • Total Score: 71.15
  • No. 4 - San Jose, California

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 2
    • Income & Employment: 6
    • Community & Environment: 55
    • Total Score: 71.00
  • No. 5 - Irvine, California

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 5
    • Income & Employment: 16
    • Community & Environment: 12
    • Total Score: 70.38
  • No. 6 - Madison, Wisconsin

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 10
    • Income & Employment: 11
    • Community & Environment: 19
    • Total Score: 68.10
  • No. 7 - Seattle, Washington

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 6
    • Income & Employment: 2
    • Community & Environment: 99
    • Total Score: 67.67
  • No. 8 - Overland Park, Kansas

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 12
    • Income & Employment: 54
    • Community & Environment: 13
    • Total Score: 67.46
  • No. 9 - Huntington Beach, California

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 9
    • Income & Employment: 51
    • Community & Environment: 43
    • Total Score: 66.43
  • No. 10 - San Diego, California

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 14
    • Income & Employment: 18
    • Community & Environment: 25
    • Total Score: 65.82

    What about at the bottom of the list?

  • No. 178 - Montgomery, Alabama

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 174
    • Income & Employment: 180
    • Community & Environment: 161
    • Total Score: 35.54
  • No. 179 - Huntington, West Virginia

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 182
    • Income & Employment: 39
    • Community & Environment: 141
    • Total Score: 35.53
  • No. 180 - Memphis, Tennessee

    Happiest city North Carolina

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 176
    • Income & Employment: 181
    • Community & Environment: 172
    • Total Score: 34.86
  • No. 181 - Gulfport, Mississippi

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 181
    • Income & Employment: 153
    • Community & Environment: 151
    • Total Score: 34.71
  • No. 182 - Detroit, Michigan

    • Emotional & Physical Well Being: 179
    • Income & Employment: 179
    • Community & Environment: 177
    • Total Score: 32.31

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