NEW YORK – Don’t worry, be happy on the coast of southwest Florida.
The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro area was tops in contentment for the second year in a row, according to the Gallup-Healthways 2016 well-being rankings.
The survey says residents there feel safer than residents in any other community in the nation.
The Town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, and Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California, took second and third place overall in the composite index. San Diego-Carlsbad ranked 22nd.
The border city of Fort Smith, Arkansas, on the other hand, ranked lowest of 189 communities measured.
Gallup measures the well-being of a community based on interviews gauging resident’s feelings about their financial position, community, health and safety.
To quantify this, residents in 354,000 phone interviews were asked questions about how stressed they are about their economic security and how motivated they feel to achieve goals and whether they have supportive and loving relationships.
Many of the top-ranked communities are in California, Colorado, Texas and Florida. This matches up with state rankings in the Gallup State of Americans well-being report, which put those states all in the top 15 this year.
- Naples, Fla.: 66.3
- Barnstable Town, Mass.; 66.2
- Santa Cruz, Calif.: 65.9
- Honolulu, Hawaii: 65.4
- Charlottesville, Va.: 65.3
22. San Diego-Carlsbad 63.9
- Fort Smith, Ark.–Okla.: 57.5
- Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton, NC: 58.6
- Huntington–Ashland, W.Va.–Ky.–Ohio: 58.7
- Topeka, Kansas: 59.3
- Canton–Massillon, Ohio: 59.4
Fort Smith, on the Oklahoma border and home to more than 87,000 people, ranked lowest in the social, physical health and safety categories.
There’s a noticeable financial gap between the top and bottom of the ranks.
The median household income in Naples is more than $45,000 higher than that in Fort Smith, where the income of 27% of residents fell below the poverty line, according to US Census Bureau data.
Fort Smith’s mayor did not respond for comment.
But Carolyn Joyce, a longtime resident and tour and travel sales director at Miss Laura’s Visitors Center — a former Old West bordello — says Fort Smith is “a wonderful city to live in, to work in, to have your family.”
“It’s a volunteer community,” she told CNN by phone. “I certainly do not agree with that poll and I have no idea how we could have ranked like that. That’s not the general feeling here in this community. It’s a very friendly place.”
The report also gave nods for improvement to places such as Fort Worth, Texas, which saw its well-being score go up and more residents say they were “thriving’ since 2015.
The survey cited new initiatives in Forth Worth that put a focus on healthier choices for community members, with an increase in exercise and fresh produce consumption. The community’s smoking rate saw a decrease and is now well below the national average — which is 16.8 % of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flint, Michigan, which made national headlines last year because of its water crisis, scraped the bottom overall — scoring lowest for safety.
Gallup conducted more than 350,000 phone interviews in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2015 and 2016 to gather the data to rank communities on a 0 to 100 scale. Communities are included in the rankings if enough interviews with adults were reported.