(KRON) — Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, beaches, national parks and sunshine are among the things that make California an attractive destination. However, the state’s high cost of living has also gained a reputation.

Despite its seemingly attractive features, the Golden State barely cracked one recent top 10 list of “happiest” states in the United States. A study by NiceRX ranks California ninth on the list with a “happiness” score of 7.28.

Hawaii took home the top spot with a score of 9.08.

NiceRX’s top 10 “happiest” states & happiness score

  1. Hawaii (9.08)
  2. Connecticut (8.50)
  3. Massachusetts (8.34)
  4. New Jersey (8.23)
  5. Minnesota (8.20)
  6. New Hampshire (8.06)
  7. Washington (7.42)
  8. Utah (7.35)
  9. California (7.28)
  10. Maryland (7.21)

The factors the study used to come up with an overall happiness score are life expectancy, mean household income, homicides per 100,000 people, safety score, poverty rate and “adults with serious mental illness.”

The highest-ranked categories for California are life expectancy (79) and mean household income ($111,622). Life expectancy is tied for fourth among all 50 states, and mean household income ranked fifth.

California ranked lower for homicide rate (20th), safety (21st) and poverty rate (27th).


NiceRX used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its numbers on life expectancy and homicide, according to its website. A higher life expectancy and a lower homicide rate will contribute to an increased overall happiness score for that state.

Data from World Population Review was used to analyze mean household income and safety rating. Data USA was used to find each state’s rates of mental illness and poverty. A lower rate in mental illness and poverty will improve the overall happiness score — along with a higher mean household income and safety rating.

All six factors measured were weighed equally to produce a state’s overall “happiness score” out of 10. The study said all data is as of Sept. 29.

The full study can be viewed here.

Where California ranks in other ‘happiness’ studies

A study released in September by WalletHub ranks California as the seventh-happiest state with an overall score of 59.97. That study also named Hawaii the happiest state.

According to its website, WalletHub analyzed three different factors: “emotional & physical well-being”, “work environment” and “community & environment.”

A different study by Amerisleep ranked California as the fifth-happiest state, including a first-place ranking in the environment category. This study factored in (in this particular order of importance) health, education, work-life balance, environment, safety, housing and income.