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Well-Being Highest in Western Cities, U.S. Survey Shows

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Seeking a happier, healthier life? Go west, according to a new survey of more than 350,000 Americans. It finds that Rocky Mountain cities such as Boulder, Colo., or California towns like Santa Rosa have the highest concentrations of generally happy residents, USA Today reported.

The Gallup-HealthWays Well-Being Index, conducted in 2009, asked respondents to assess their finances, physical health, mental outlook, jobs and communities.

"Most of our highest-scoring cities are found out West and most of our lowest-scoring cities are in the South," Gallup-HealthWays research director Dan Witters told USA Today.

According to a news release from the pollsters, the Top 5 cities in terms of well-being are Boulder, Colo.; Holland, Mich; Honolulu, Hawaii; Provo, Utah; and Santa Rosa, Calif. The nation's capital, Washington, D.C., also made the Top 10, placing at number 8.

Most of the cities placing in the bottom 10 of the list of 162 medium- or large-sized cities were in regions facing tough economic conditions, such as the Alleghenies and the Rust Belt, USA Today said.

The survey found that people living in cities with over a million or more residents tended to report better well-being than those living in smaller centers, but residents of small cities (250,000 people or less) felt safer walking at night and were more likely to report having sufficient money for housing. Having a major university, large military base or a state Capitol also seemed to boost a city's well-being index, the pollsters said.

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