The Happiest Places In The World

If happiness was measured by the weather outside, us poor UK dwellers would spend 90% of the year in an unhappy lull. Luckily for you we’ve put together a list of the best places across the world that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.


If happiness is measured by living a long and peaceful life, then Andorra may be on to something. Their tiny country, located in the Pyrenees mountains, hasn’t been to war in over 700 years and the Andorrans have the world’s highest life expectancy. 10 million tourists visit each year and yet there are no train stations, airports or major cities – the nearest is a two hour drive away. The mountain air, a sense of community and stress-free healthy living have all been linked to the Andorran secret to longevity. Did we mention the country is also a tax haven? Happiness reigns in this little principality, why not take a trip to Andorra and discover their secret for yourselves?

Florianopolis – Brazil

If you lived in a city that had 42 beaches and great weather you’d probably be very happy and it seems the Florianopolis locals are. In a Conde Nast Traveller survey the Brazilian city was voted the friendliest in the world and Brazilian magazine Veja found its readers ranked the city as the best place to live in the country. But what makes Florianopolis so happy? It’s got a flourishing music scene, with free beach parties, DJs hired by the city hall and superb seafood. Locals born here rarely move away and it’s the go-to place for Brazilians seeking a holiday home. Go for the samba, stay for the seafood and surf your way to happiness on a different beach every day of the week.

San Luis Obispo – California, USA

The secret to this American city’s happiness possibly dates back to the 70s. Instead of designing a city around commerce, the people of San Luis Obispo designed their city with quality of life in mind. Fast food drive-ins are banned, everyone has access to green spaces and aesthetics have taken priority over typically functional cityscape items. They were one of the first places in the world to ban smoking in bars and restaurants and instead of turning their 250 year old plaza into a parking lot, they built an art centre which hosts free concerts in summer. San Luis Obispo residents are more likely to experience joy than Americans in any other city and they are paying it forward: a quarter of the population volunteer at 11,000 non profit organisations across the city.

Ikaria – Greece

There’s a Greek island where inhabitants live longer than those on neighbouring islands. Such is the difference in lifespan that the island, Ikaria, has been the subject of scientific studies to find out why. The islanders also have lower rates of illness and depression, so is happiness making them live longer? The results found that the key to happiness and a long life lies in beans, wild greens, herbal tea and an afternoon nap. Elderly Ikarians also stay with their families rather than move into retirement homes meaning their children and grandchildren remain part of their lives.

Happy – Texas, USA

If you’re happy and you know it, move to Texas. More specifically, move to a small town in the north west of the Texan Panhandle. Happy is home to just under 700 people and the local motto is ‘the town without a frown’. The town’s name was derived from a stream called the Happy Draw, named when cowboys were happy to find water. Though small, covering just over a square mile of Texas, Happy is now home to the Happy State Bank and Happy High and Happy Elementary schools. If Happy residents aren’t happy then they need to rethink their town name!

Harrogate – Yorkshire, UK

For the third year running North Yorkshire’s spa town Harrogate has topped’s ‘happiest place to live in Britain’. The website surveyed over 20,000 people on 12 factors to determine how happy they were with their area; including community, space, decor and contentment. Harrogate’s quaint tea rooms, Spa Baths and Victorian heritage meant it topped the poll for residents feeling proud about where they live. Rightmove are expecting to see a rise in people looking to move to the area. Planning a weekend break? Why not take a drive to Harrogate, soak up some history and heritage in the spa and experience Britain’s happiest place.

Costa Rica

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) determines how 150 countries around the world produce long, happy and sustainable lives for their residents. Costa Rica tops the charts across the board with high scores for life expectancy, experienced well-being and ‘Ecological Footprint’. But how did they calculate the scores? For the experienced well-being or happiness factor, they asked the residents. Using a ‘ladder of life’ scoring system from the Gallup World Poll, people scored their existence from 0 (worst possible life) to 10 (best possible life). None of the HPI’s top countries were particularly wealthy, perhaps proving the age-old saying that money can’t buy you happiness.