Top 10 Happiest States:
5. New Jersey
Bottom 10 Happiest States:
40. New Mexico
50. West Virginia
This really is a gem of a state.
Idaho was ranked the 6th happiest state in the U.S. in a survey released by WalletHub this week.
The survey considered 31 factors affecting residents’ happiness, such as emotional and physical well-being, work environment, and community and environment.
Idaho ranked top in the country for community and environment factors including ideal weather, volunteer rate, and safety.
That came as no surprise to Jeremy Whittington, who recently moved back to Coeur d’Alene after spending 25 years in Texas.
“It’s my favorite part of the country,” he said. “I love the weather and the topography. The people are so nice.”
Whittington said the area has changed — for the better — since he’s been away.
“It’s gotten a lot more liberal and open-minded,” he said. “They’re constantly improving.”
Idaho came in second nationwide in work environment factors such as commute time, job security and unemployment rate.
The Gem State came in 33rd for emotional and physical well-being factors, such as share of adult depression and life expectancy. Dropping it in the rankings, Idaho registered 46th in suicide rate.
Jim and Debbie Geiger are from out of state. The California couple is on an extended road trip, traveling the United States with no real itinerary — so they have plenty of places to compare Idaho to. They agreed that Idaho’s ranking sounds about right to them.
While exploring McEuen Park, Jim said he was impressed by North Idaho’s clean, well-maintained public spaces.
“Our first impression of Idaho is that it’s beautiful,” he said. “In California, there are parks, but any stationary object would have tagging on it.”
Except for a stint in Pullman, Wash. while she was in college, Nicole Holmes has lived in Idaho all her life. She said she wasn’t surprised to hear that Idaho was ranked among the happiest places in the country.
“I’ve traveled a good amount, and I don’t know if I would be able to find anywhere else that feels like home,” she said. “People are moving here for a reason.”
Holmes pointed to the retirees flocking to North Idaho as a possible reason why the population seems so content. The number of Kootenai County residents ages 65 and older grew by 98 percent between 2000 and 2015. In 2017, the 65 and older population reached just over 30,000. The Idaho Department of Labor predicts that population to increase to 50,000 by 2027.
Holmes added a note of wisdom to her assessment.
“It’s hard not to be happy when you retire,” she said.
To read the full survey results, visit www.wallethub.com/edu/happiest-states/6959/