Studies have long shown that money can indeed buy happiness — at least up to a certain income level, that is. While higher salaries can fund more luxurious lifestyles, they also generally correlate to things like less poverty and lower rates of bankruptcy (read: things that tend to make people unhappy). It’s for this reason and more that Bellevue was ranked as the third happiest city in the nation in a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania.
Bellevue earned its ranking partially because it scored the highest in the category for overall quality of life. Beyond that, the city was second for personal finances, with 61% of Bellevue’s residents earning about $100,000 or more annually. Less than 8% of the population lives in poverty, and the cost of living as a percent of income was 28.6% — the lowest of the entire study. Additionally, almost all of the top ten cities in the study had high marriage rates, including Bellevue.
The top-ranking cities in the study were Sunnyvale, CA and Arlington, VA, in first and second place, respectively. Sunnyvale earned its ranking through its high well-being and quality of life scores, and Arlington ranked high for personal finances.
Seattle also did well in the study, coming in at number 15 out of 50 of the country’s happiest cities. The study’s rankings were determined based on three overarching categories: personal finances, well-being and quality of life. Within these categories were items including the percentage of individuals earning $100,000 or more, personal bankruptcy filings per 100,000 residents, down payment-to-income ratio, life expectancy, percent of adults with health insurance, marriage rate, average commute time, violent crime rate and more.
It seems that despite the cloudy skies our region is known for, there are still plenty of reasons to keep smiling for those who are lucky enough to call it home.