Check Out The Top 5 Happiest Cities In The United States, According To ‘National Geographic’

Check Out The Top 5 Happiest Cities In The United States, According To ‘National Geographic’

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

A lot of places across the U.S. can lay claim as the happiest city in the country. Although not a completely objective list, National Geographic set out to determine which ones were truly the “happiest” based on measurable criteria. These are the top 5 of the places that made the cut in 2017: Boulder, CO; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA; Charlottesville, VA; Fort Collins, CO; and, the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande metro area, CA.

The study used 15 metrics to determine happiness across 190 metropolitan areas. These are some in no particular order:

  •      Healthy eating;
  •      Health and wellness, including physical fitness and even visits to the dentist;
  •      Acquisition of knowledge and continuing (ongoing) education;
  •      Engagement with and a contribution to the city’s civic life;
  •      Overall financial literacy and well-being;
  •      Ability to take time away from work, such as for a vacation; and
  •      Access to green spaces, waterways, and parks.
  1. Boulder, CO

Just 25 miles due northwest of Denver, the capital city of the State of Colorado, is the city of Boulder. Boulder, with a population of just over 100,000, is consistently listed as one of the best cities to live in. It is where the great plains and the Rocky Mountains come together to form some of the most beautiful scenic landscapes in the United States. What makes Boulder such a happy place to be? Well, who wouldn’t be happy living in a city that experiences about 300 days of sunshine a year?

The area’s moderate weather makes outdoor mountain living possible. The city has an elevation of more than 5,400 feet, situating it 150 feet higher than the mile-high city of Denver. Its population is made up of 30,000 students that attend the University of Colorado, the state’s flagship university.

  1. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

Sun. Music. Ocean vistas: these are just some of the elements that make the population of the Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA metro area one of the happiest. It is an area on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay peninsula and is just 32 miles to the south of the city of San Jose. There is plenty to do and see in this city of just over 62,000 residents, home to the University of California-Santa Cruz and its famous mascot, Sammy the Slug (made famous in the movie “Pulp Fiction”). Whether it’s a stroll on the boardwalk, taking in the beauty of the many Spanish missions, or enjoying the eateries along the bay, there’s plenty here to make residents and visitors alike happy.

  1. Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville has become synonymous with the University of Virginia. The university and its nearly 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students have called Charlottesville home for the past 200 years. It is a particular point of pride that the school was founded in 1819 by the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville is a small and quaint place to live; its population of 48,000 residents has often been called one of the friendliest in the country. But what attracts people to Charlottesville, beside the university? Despite its size, many people have found quiet and active pastimes: whether it’s strolling through its historic downtown mall, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or visiting one of the dozens of wineries or breweries in the area, there’s something for everyone.

  1. Fort Collins, CO

Another Colorado city that made it onto National Geographic’s top five list, at number four, is Fort Collins. 161,000 residents call Fort Collins home. The city is also home to Colorado State University and its 25,000 students. A main attraction that you can find is its craft beer industry, which produces more than 70 percent of the craft beer made in Colorado. And who wouldn’t want to live in a place that produces so much beer?

  1. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA

San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande metro area is the name for the largest metropolitan area located in San Luis Obispo County, California. The cities, together, have a population of over 260,000 residents. They are located at the midway point between the major cities of Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the north. California Polytechnic State University (“Cal Poly”) is located in this metro area, along with its 21,000 students, which help bring a young vibe to the metropolitan area. One of the most popular attractions that makes San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande a happy place to live is its wineries and many wine tastings. Add the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center on the campus of the Cal Poly and a budding arts scene, and you will find this a pleasant place to be.

It is easy to see why these five cities top the list of happiest places to live in the U.S. What these cities share in common are a youthful university population, contributing to the intellectual capital in each of these communities. This is not the only factor; looking at the metrics determined by National Geographic, these five cities have many subjective and objective qualities that they share in common.

What the five top cities share that make them the happiest are high marks in personal pleasure, a pride in the community, and a sense of purpose. It also helps that these five cities are bikeable communities, have a low rate of crime, and have access to clean air and clean water (in fact, the correlation between access to clean water and happiness is strong). These factors increase the happiness of its residents and make them places that more and more people want to visit.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

New Report Names the Healthiest — and Unhealthiest — States in the Country

New Report Names the Healthiest — and Unhealthiest — States in the Country

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

For the past 29 years, the United Health Foundation has issued a report ranking the states from healthiest to unhealthiest. The rankings are determined based on 35 different factors, varying from lifestyle choices to public policies to medical care.

The Top 5 Healthiest States

Last year’s top five states are the same as this year’s, though the order has changed a bit. Though Hawaii holds the record for healthiest state five years in a row, Massachusetts won the top spot in 2017. Hawaii reclaimed the title this year. For 2018, the top 5 healthiest states are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Connecticut
  4. Vermont
  5. Utah

The Bottom 5 States

West Virginia was 46th last year, but it’s moved out of the bottom five to number 44 this year. Oklahoma, however, moved down a few slots, while Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana round out the bottom five. The unhealthiest states in 2018 are:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Alabama
  4. Mississippi
  5. Louisiana

Key Observations

There are a few important observations from the study to note. Researchers are especially concerned about the rise in obesity over the past year. It’s up 5 percent, meaning an astounding 31.3 percent of Americans are obese. It’s also worth mentioning that, for the most part, the unhealthiest states had the highest rates of obesity, while the healthiest states had the lowest obesity rates.

Another concerning factor was premature death, which is defined as death before the age of 75. This has increased 3 percent. Scientists believe a variety of factors influenced this rise, including suicide rates (which have risen 16 percent over the past six years) and the rise of chronic diseases.

On a positive note, childhood poverty has decreased 6 percent since last year. The number of mental health providers has also risen substantially.

Why are some states healthier than others?

One of the biggest factors influencing overall health seems to be primarily social. Societal determinants, such as poverty levels, access to walking areas, tobacco usage, etc. all affect the health of individuals within the community. In fact, most of the unhealthiest states have significant portions of the population who are at or below the poverty line.

It’s also important to note that, while states rank higher or lower than others based on all the factors combined, each state has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, there may be a state that has excellent medical facilities but ranked low on the list due to other negative determinants.

How can we all be healthier?

There are many things we can do to make ourselves healthier in the new year, both on a state-by-state as well as an individual basis.

For example, smoking rates have been falling for the past several decades. If those numbers keep falling, health should improve. Quitting smoking (or never starting) is one of the best ways to improve your overall health.

Of course, physical activity helps improve health, and fitness trackers help many people stay aware of their daily activity levels. As always, diet and exercise seem to be key to staying as healthy as possible.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!


How Is A Person’s Life Expectancy Affected By The Neighborhood They Live In?

How Is A Person’s Life Expectancy Affected By The Neighborhood They Live In?

Since the 1990s, researchers have been studying why some neighborhoods are healthy and others have higher levels of chronic health conditions such as cancer and heart disease, more accidental deaths and other mortality, and higher rates of depression and anxiety. Where you live can help to keep you and your family healthy, and therefore affect how long you live. For example, a neighborhood associated with environmental pollutants, a high crime rate, or one that simply lacks access to healthy food or good medical care, may cause or exacerbate existing health problems. More research on which neighborhoods are associated with longer lives, and which with shorter ones has been released by the Centers for Disease Control’s U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy and Estimates Project (USALEEP), published September 2018. Here are a few of the findings.

What Factors Influence Life Expectancy in Neighborhoods?

The CDC partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to conduct the survey. The RWJF has identified common factors that influence health and life expectancy. They include access to:

  • Healthy food
  • Good schools
  • Affordable housing
  • Recreation and physical activity
  • Employment opportunities

Access to all of these amenities may help people to live longer, happier lives, according to the RWJF. The Small-area Life Expectancy and Estimates Project (USALEEP) has added to health knowledge by helping to uncover the difference a few blocks can make between a long, healthy life and reduced life expectancy.

RWJF vice president Don Schwarz told Philadelphia NBC 10 that “The more local the data, the more useful they can be for pinpointing disparities and driving action.”

The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 81.2 years for women, 76.3 years for men, and overall, a combined average of 78.8 years. The survey covers about 89% of census tracts in the U.S. and is based on the National Vital Statistics system and other national population and residence data.

How Do Neighborhoods Contribute to Life Expectancy?

Dr. Garth Graham, M.D., a cardiologist and president of the Aetna Foundation, told NBC News that “social determinants of health” present in neighborhoods can affect life expectancy as much, or even more than genetics and family history.

As one example, a Harvard School of Public Health study determined that women who lived in or near green spaces lived longer than those who lived in a neighborhood with no parks or open space. Dr. Graham said “the ability to safely walk and play outside” contributes to overall health, which includes a long, healthy lifespan.

A study published in the Journal of Public Health found that children who lived near fast food restaurants gained weight faster and had a greater risk of shortened lifespans than those who lived in neighborhoods with no fast food restaurants. The phenomenon of “healthy food deserts,” neighborhoods that lack markets selling fresh fruits and vegetables, has been well-documented. People who live in “food desert” neighborhoods have shorter lifespans than those living in neighborhoods with ample, easy access to healthy food. Neighborhoods with high crime rates experience direct reductions in lifespan due to criminal activity and stress-related illnesses.

Is the USALEEP Survey Completely Accurate and Does the Project Cover Every Neighborhood?

The USALEEP Survey is an indicator of potential health problems that are neighborhood-related, not a complete prediction of exactly how long every person in a neighborhood will live. It’s part of a growing body of geo-specific data that helps to tie health outcomes and challenges to neighborhoods and communities.

Not all neighborhoods are covered by the USALEEP Survey. According to CDC researchers, the survey was able to find statistically reliable life tables for 88.7% of the more than 65,600 census tracts in the U.S. Tracts with small population sizes (primarily under 5,000) and missing age-specific death counts weren’t able to be included. Some of the results also included estimates of death rates and life expectancy. Overall, the survey shows reliable, but not perfect information, and it can’t predict the life expectancy of any one individual.

Can The Survey Be Used to Choose a Neighborhood or Recommend Improvements?

You can see where your neighborhood’s average life expectancy rates compared to your state or the U.S. as a whole by visiting RWJF’s searchable database and entering your address and zip code. The database doesn’t list which health-promoting factors your neighborhood possesses, including parks, good schools, or fresh and healthy food, so you’d have to guess. The features people value in their neighborhoods also include friendly neighbors, community spirit, and attractive, well-maintained homes, each of which also promotes health on both an individual and a community basis.

In a way, the USALEEP survey has put numbers to things that common sense tells us are important. Some of the neighborhoods with low life expectancies have high crime rates. Others have high infant mortality rates because of a lack of prenatal care and potential substance use disorders. Unhealthy environments contribute to high rates of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. For now, research into the connection between the neighborhood we live in and our life expectancy continues. No matter where our neighborhoods rank in the survey, we can seek to make them healthier and happier.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

This Is What $2,000 In Rent Gets You In 8 Cities Around The Country

This Is What $2,000 In Rent Gets You In 8 Cities Around The Country

Finding a home should be a pleasurable experience: here you are, ready to move into your dream home or apartment, in a neighborhood or city you like. But there’s just one problem: the rent. Depending on where you want to live, the amenities you’re looking for, and how much you can afford, rent can be extraordinarily high. Here’s what $2,000 in rent can get you in 8 different U.S. cities.

New York, NY

Size: Studio, 1 bath
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Everything you need may be just outside your door, and this New York neighborhood is known for being one of the most posh areas in the five boroughs. The price may reflect the fact that you’ll likely be just steps away from some of the world’s most prized museums or even Central Park, but you may be disappointed by the size of the apartment. You’ll get no Carrie Bradshaw-esque abode for this price. Instead, expect a small studio just big enough to fit the essentials. But if you live in this neighborhood, you’re perhaps more likely to spend most of your time enjoying everything Manhattan has to offer.

Denver, CO

Size: Studio to 1-bedroom apartment in a luxury building
Neighborhood: Union Station North

Denver’s real estate scene offers a little more than New York’s, thankfully for those who live in, or are looking to move to Colorado’s capital. Luxury buildings are becoming more and more common outside the city’s downtown area without being too removed from it. Not only is Union Station North not far from the downtown area, but it’s also close to the River North Art District, an up-and-coming neighborhood known for its gritty roots, punk-rock industrial vibe, art galleries, and breweries.

Richmond, VA

Size: 4 bedroom, 2 bath
Neighborhood: Monroe Ward

Central Virginia may not be the area of choice for those chasing the big city lifestyle, but Richmond may be busy enough for some to make it home. Those people may be lucky enough to find the home of their dreams: $2,000 in rent may get them a 4 bedroom home! The historic neighborhood of Monroe Ward is located between VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Downtown Richmond. It’s quite popular with the students, so residents may enjoy the youthful vibe along with a rich music and art scene.

Washington, D.C.

Size: 1 bedroom, 1 bath
Neighborhood: Logan Circle

The nation’s capital may not be as expensive as the Big Apple, but this residential neighborhood may hold a few gems when it comes down to housing. Close to Dupont Circle, George Washington University, and Downtown D.C., this area is popular with young professionals and has a large LGTBQ population, thanks to gentrification that transformed the neighborhood in the 2000’s. Of course, if you plan on living in Washington D.C., you’ll have no shortage of things to do, and living in such a historic neighborhood may only add to your experience.

San Francisco, CA

Size: Studio, 1 bath
Neighborhood: Tenderloin

San Francisco, a capital for artists, may be quite pricey when it comes down to housing, but if you’re willing to look at neighborhoods outside the downtown area, you may be in luck. Although Tenderloin may be notorious for its crime rate, its proximity to the Union Square shopping district is making it an increasingly desirable place to live. $2,000 may still get you a decently sized studio, if you’re willing to live outside the center of town.

Miami, FL

Size: 1 bedroom, 1 bath in a luxury building
Neighborhood: Downtown Miami

This is a real steal! You may be able to rent a 1-bedroom apartment for just under $2,000 not only in Downtown Miami, but located right off the water and beaches! If you’re a sun and surf lover, and in the market for a new home, you may want to consider living here if the price suits your budget. With ocean views, luxury amenities, and close proximity to shopping and entertainment, who wouldn’t want to live here?

Salt Lake City, UT

Size: 2 bedroom, 2 bath in a luxury building
Neighborhood: Western, close to Downtown Salt Lake City

Downtown Salt Lake City is on the up-and-up: it’s generally considered to be a hip and trendy neighborhood filled with art and culture and many new experiences in the hospitality industry. For just $2,000 in rent, you can be in close proximity of all of that. Although living in Utah may not be for everyone, it may appeal to those looking to spend a decent amount of time skiing in their down time.

Kansas City, MO

Size: 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house
Neighborhood: West Plaza

Like in Richmond, you may be able to snag a good-sized house for relatively not a lot of cash. West Plaza is a little more low-key than the Downtown area, and is mostly comprised of housing and some small businesses like antique shops. But the neighborhood’s quieter nature may be one of its main draws. If you’re looking to settle down away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and the midwest is an area you’re looking at, you may want to consider this quiet little neighborhood.

Finding a home is difficult, and you may not find your dream house right away. But if you’re looking for a home, you may be lucky enough to find one that just right for you. Check out new neighborhoods, or even towns, and you may be surprised by what’s out there!

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

What Are The Fastest Growing Metro Areas In The U.S.?

What Are The Fastest Growing Metro Areas In The U.S.?

With and increasing number of job, recreational, and housing opportunities out there, people are finding more suitable places for them to work and settle down. Some of these places are up-and-coming, and don’t necessarily have the same kind of mass appeal that cities like New York or Boston do. But each place on 2017’s list of fastest growing metro areas in the United States has a lot to offer and clearly caters to specific groups of people and their needs, whether it be millennials looking to buy their first home, families looking for a change of pace, or folks who are looking for new job opportunities.

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho, has made its way all the way up to number one on this list of the fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S. In 2017, Boise’s population grew at a whopping rate of 3.08 percent. To match the growing population, jobs also increased at the rate of 3.58 percent last year, and it looks as if it will continue increasing, albeit more modestly. It also seems that Boise has been benefiting from tech dislocation: companies who are getting priced out of places like San Francisco are looking for more affordable alternatives. This city is also considered to be very family friendly, so it has become very popular with families, especially those with young children!

Seattle, Washington

The population of Seattle, Washington, increased at a rate of 1.97 percent in the past year — not an insignificant amount, though not as much as Boise’s population. This is also a city that has seen the amount of jobs grow at a rate of 2.62 percent last year. The city benefits from being located between two bodies of water, which prevent the area from becoming too hot or too cold. Winters in this city can be very wet and rainy, but the summers are warm. Seattle is also close to the Canadian border, so it is relatively easy to take day trips to our neighbor to the north.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas has been known to attract both domestic and international migrants and 2017’s influx of people caused the metro area’s population to grow at the rate of 1.79 percent. Job growth kept up the pace with the area’s population growth at the rate of 3.23 percent the same year. Furthermore, many companies are making Dallas their home, so there are plenty of opportunities to find a job that isn’t far from home.

Orlando, Florida

Like the previous cities on this list, Orlando’s population and job opportunities grew: the population grew at a rate of 2.41 percent last year. Orlando’s professional, scientific and technology positions grew 8.2 percent during the same time period. Orlando is a place that is considered to have a lot of potential: not only is it great for adults, but is also a great city for children (theme parks like Walt Disney World provide endless entertainment). It is also home to several tech and automobile companies. The area also attracts a large number of retirees who decide to settle there every year.

Other areas included on the list of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States include the Fort Worth, Las Vegas, and Nashville Metropolitan Statistical areas.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

What Should I Consider Before Buying A House In An Unfamiliar Neighborhood?

What Should I Consider Before Buying A House In An Unfamiliar Neighborhood?

Relocating to a new neighborhood basically means marching into uncharted territory, so why would you rush? Take the time to cover all the bases in your research. If you also consider taking the following steps, you may feel better and less nervous about the big move.

Figure Out How Safe the Neighborhood Is

Given the fact that there’s more to a neighborhood than meets the eye, you shouldn’t assume anything about the area based on its appearance. As a prospective home buyer, you should err on the side of caution. There’s only one real way to get a good picture of how safe a neighborhood: visiting the local police station and talking to law enforcement agents and neighborhood watch members may provide some comfort or shed light on an issue not previously known. You may be able to find reports on crime rates to assess whether or not you’re moving into a danger zone or a family-friendly oasis.

Make Sure the Commute Is Favorable and Public Transportation is Accessible

Getting to work on time or ahead of schedule is going to be challenging if you have to maneuver your car through traffic jams and around potholes and other obstacles. With that in mind, you should also focus on the new commute time and related expectations. The closer the neighborhood is to your job site, the better! But did you know that the monotony of sitting behind the wheel can increase your risk of developing serious health problems like depression? Fortunately, using public transportation is an excellent alternative, as long as it’s accessible from your new home. Walk around your new neighborhood to get an idea of distance and the time commitment when commuting with public transportation. Remember: each time you leave your car in the garage, you’re helping protect the environment because your car isn’t adding to the pollution problem.

Know What’s Planned For The Future

Unless you have no alternative, it’s likely that you’re moving into the new neighborhood because you approve of it in one way or another. If however, some of these favorite features disappear or undergo a series of changes, chances are you’re going to be disappointed and possibly also quite puzzled. Therefore, it’s advisable that you try and learn about what adjustments are currently anticipated and/or likely to come down the proverbial pike. Will the nearby park get the axe next year? Are high-end stores coming to the area? Is the town going to be redistricted? With the answers to such questions, you’re bound to be in a better position to weigh the neighborhood’s pros and cons.

Go Where Your Family can Live Comfortably

If you’re seeking serenity, do you really want to live in proximity to a school? Perhaps you should prioritize such neighborhoods if you have school-aged kids. After all, the goal for you should be to find a neighborhood that suits your family’s needs. But be sure to explore the area at different times of day to get a good and realistic feel for the area, noise and activity included.

Evaluate the Neighborhood’s Entertainment Scene

Finding places to relax outside your home may be important you, whether it’s going to a nice restaurant, a concert, or a spa. Evaluate the neighborhood’s entertainment scene before your move. Start by asking several local residents for their opinions. Then, look at the venues that are nearby or in the surrounding area. Are there museums and health clinics, or nightclubs and bars? If you see the venues that you love to visit, you’re bound to feel more at home when you finally relocate.

Investigate The House Itself

If you believe that you’ve found the perfect house in the right neighborhood, you should dig below the surface to see if your belief is reasonably accurate. Use NeighborWho to check out information about both the neighborhood and the house you plan on living in. You may discover some pleasant surprises, or even off-putting details. Talk to the current homeowners, and be sure to ask about pest infestation problems, recurring nuisances, and contentious neighbors. If you like the responses that you get, you’ll likely be able to settle down in your new home with confidence.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

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