The Happiest Places in the US: Top Metro Areas for Well-Being

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When it comes to well-being, the top-rated community in the U.S. is in southern Florida, on the state's Gulf Coast: the metro area of Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, according to new findings from a Gallup-Healthways survey of people living in 190 metro areas, conducted in 2014 and 2015.

Other top metro areas for well-being included Salinas, California; North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida; and Fort Collins, Colorado. The community of Provo-Orem, Utah — which ranked No. 1 in Gallup-Healthways' previous survey, in 2012-2013 — fell to spot 14 in the new rankings.

The lowest-ranked community in the country for residents' well-being is now Charleston, West Virginia. Fort Smith (a metro area that spans parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma); Hickory-Lenoir Morganton, North Carolina; and Huntington-Ashland (which spans parts of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio) were also among the lowest-ranked communities. (However, Huntington-Ashland did rise up three places, to rank 187th in the new findings, from its last-place ranking in the previous survey.) [Full List: US Communities Ranked by Residents' Well-Being]

Just four states (Florida, California, Colorado and Texas) were home to 14 of the top 20 communities, but the lowest-ranked communities were generally more spread out across the country, Gallup said. (Ohio, however, was home to five of the 20 lowest-ranking well-being communities.)

The top-ranking Naples community scored 65.0 out of 100 on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Health Index, while the last-place Charleston community scored 57.1.

For the rankings, Gallup-Healthways scored communities' well-being based on their residents' responses to questions on five aspects of their lives: their sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security, connection to their communities and physical health.

The Naples community ranked No. 1 in the community well-being category, and also ranked highly in sense of purpose and social relationships, according to the survey. The top community for physical well-being was Boulder, Colorado, while the top community for financial well-being was North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida. Corpus Christi, Texas, was the top-ranked community in both sense of purpose and social relationships.

The survey also provided information about how communities ranked on offering access to health care. In 2015, the nation's rate of "health care insecurity," or the percentage of people who don't have enough money to pay for their health care, reached its lowest point since Gallup began tracking the metric in 2008, in part due to an increase in health care coverage beginning in 2013, Gallup said.

However, the survey results indicate that there are still large gaps in health care coverage. For example, 95.5 percent of people in the community of Norwich-New London, Connecticut, have health insurance, while only 62.1 percent of people in the metro area of McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, said they had access to health care, according to the survey.

The survey results are based on telephone interviews with more than 353,000 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, conducted between Jan. 2, 2014, and Dec. 30, 2015.

Follow Sara G. Miller on Twitter @SaraGMiller. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.