THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT

Austin earns optimistic rank on list of happiest cities in the U.S.

Austin earns optimistic rank on list of happiest cities in the U.S.

Austin Congress Avenue Bridge paddle board Lady Bird Lake Town Colorado River
According to a new report, Austin is the happiest big city in Texas. Congress Avenue Kayaks/Facebook

Despite pandemic fatigue and vaccine frustrations, winter-storm woes, and anxiety about whether life will ever return to what we once knew as normal, ever resilient Texans have somehow struck a happy medium between misery and contentment in these weird days. And according to one recent report, Austinites are feeling pretty okay about life in the Capital City.

WalletHub recently released its report detailing 2021’s Happiest Cities in America, which compared 182 of the largest U.S. cities based on several happiness factors. Austin, which has previously been lauded as one of the happiest cities in the U.S., landed at No. 27 on the new report, earning an overall score of 64.13 out of 100, a well-being score of 20, an employment score of 24, and a community and environment score of 94.

In its effort to identify the largest U.S. cities that are home to the happiest people, WalletHub considered three key aspects of residents’ lives: emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment.

It terms of happiness, Austin ranked top among Texas' big metro areas. Only the North Texas city of Plano earned a higher rank at 17.

Despite its report happiness, WalletHub notes that unhappiness is on the rise given the hindrances of life in 2021. In fact, the pandemic appears to be driving a good portion of the gloom many people are feeling of late, with the WalletHub report citing recent findings from the American Psychological Association that claim the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the average person’s stress to “increase significantly” for the first time since 2007.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of American life, from health and work to education and exercise,” the APA report notes, warning that in the long term, “the negative mental-health effects of the coronavirus will be serious and long-lasting.”

Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas ranked No. 104 on the list, while Houston ranked No. 123. As for the saddest of Texas' big cities? That honor goes to San Antonio at No. 141, with an overall ranking of 48.61 out of 100.

Something San Antonians may take solace in: Misery loves company, and according to the WalletHub report, Texans are pretty bummed across the board. Laredo is the lowest-ranking Texas city on the list, at No. 161. Other Texas cities ranked on the happiness list include Amarillo (No. 63), Grand Prairie (No. 70), Garland (No. 77), Fort Worth (No. 83), Irving (No. 85), Arlington (No. 102), Lubbock (No. 117), Brownsville (No. 125), El Paso (No. 128), and Corpus Christi (No. 127).

According to the report, the happiest city in the U.S. is the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fremont, California.