Turns out the ‘happiest place on earth’ isn’t in Anaheim or Orlando.
That is according to new report by finance firm WalletHub.
And in Arizona, the happiest places are Scottsdale and Gilbert. Both cities make WalletHub’s happiest places list top 20 nationally — which is based on economic, income, health and quality-of-life factors.
Scottsdale ranked 14th, Gilbert 20th.
Scottsdale, with its high incomes, tourism and low crime, has always done well on various surveys and rankings comparing places to live and work.
But now Gilbert is getting some love, too, on best places lists that look at income, schools, housing and demographics.
Gilbert also ranks as the top place in Arizona to raise a family, according to a new list by Niche.com. The Pittsburgh-based online portal crunches data on schools and neighborhoods.
Gilbert officials and business leaders welcome the attention for the town of 227,000, which started out as a Mormon farming colony and has morphed into an upper middle-class Phoenix suburb and one of the Southwest’s top restaurant destinations.
“Rankings like one of the happiest places to live by WalletHub and best place to raise a family in Arizona by Niche are just a couple of the reasons why so many people choose life in Gilbert,” said Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels.
So why does Gilbert ranks so well on best places lists?
Gilbert ranks high in areas such as percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree (42 percent), persons without health insurance (7.5 percent), poverty rate (6.2 percent) and median household income ($85,581), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
That puts Gilbert in company with Scottsdale, which has 56 percent of its residents with bachelor’s degree, a 9.2 percent poverty rate and median household income of $76,543.
Gilbert’s numbers also look good when comparing it to Arizona as a whole.
The median household income in Arizona is $51,340. The poverty rate is 16.4 percent statewide and almost 12 percent of Arizonans don’t have health insurance, according to the Census Bureau.
The rankings and numbers behind them have drawn popular restaurant chains to Gilbert’s downtown area and retailer and shopping center developers, including mall owner Macerich (NYSE: MAC) to Gilbert’s San Tan area and its Baseline Road border with Mesa.
“Gilbert continues to be recognized for its exceptional environment to raise a family, which in turn relates directly to being on the list of happiest places,” said Kathy Tilque, president and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce. “People moved to Gilbert for its small-town values and big town amenities and even as our population continues to grow, those values remain and are strengthened.”
WalletHub ranked areas based on a range of socio-economic and health indicators from income levels, wage growth, bankruptcy and poverty rates to suicide and divorce rates, marijuana and opioid use, commute times and public parks.