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What Makes Us the Happiest About the Places We Live

Urbanites and suburbanites in the U.S. have a lot more in common than you might have guessed.
Some satisfied Americans in Holland, Michigan.
Some satisfied Americans in Holland, Michigan. Michigan Municipal League/Flickr

We know a lot about what makes Americans satisfied with their personal lives, jobs and careers, but much less about what make them satisfied with the places where they live. I’ve long argued that choosing the place where we live is the single most important decision we make—more important than the choices we make in our personal lives (who we date, marry, or make friends with), the choices we make regarding our educations, and the choices we make about careers. That’s because our location structures all of those other decisions.

So what are the key factors that really shape how happy we are with the places we live?