Happiest Global Destinations: The world’s most carefree countries, US states and Canadian provinces

Happiness can often depend on the simplest things, from having enough money to afford the occasional luxury to a healthy work-life balance. But this can vary drastically depending on where you live, with some areas outperforming others in income, employment opportunities, and even sunshine.

But which are the happiest countries, US states, and provinces in Canada? We’ve analyzed the data to find out, looking at average salaries, unemployment rates, crime rates, the amount of sunshine, retirement ages, working hours, and safety index scores.

The happiest countries

  • Austria: Happiness score: 7.26/10

Austria is crowned the happiest country, scoring 7.26 out of 10 in our index. The Central European nation scores relatively high across the board, placing in the top 10 for four of the six factors we looked at. It scores particularly high for its retirement age of 62.5, sharing second place for the factor.

  • Slovenia: Happiness score: 7.20/10

Up next is another Central European country, Slovenia. The nation has the lowest retirement age, at 62. It’s also one of the safest countries on the list, taking third place for the factor with a safety index score of 77.3 out of 100. Overall, it scores 7.20 out of 10. 

  • Switzerland: Happiness score: 7.15/10

Switzerland rounds off the top three. The country is the safest on the list, with a safety score of 78.3 out of 100. It also ranks in the top five for its average annual salary of $72,993 and the top 10 for its annual average working hours of 1,590.

The countries with…

The lowest retirement age - Greece, Luxembourg, Slovenia and South Korea (62)

Early retirement allows you to decide how to spend your time, from travel to pursuing hobbies, making you happier. Four countries, Greece, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and South Korea, share the top spot for the lowest retirement age, all with an average retirement age of 62. 

The highest average annual salary - Iceland ($79,473)

While money can’t buy you happiness, a higher salary can give you financial security, so you won’t need to stress about paying the bills. Iceland tops the list regarding salary, averaging $79,473 annually.

The lowest unemployment rate - Czechia and Japan (2.6%)

Work gives people a sense of purpose, fulfilment, satisfaction, and the idea that they’re making a difference in the world. It can also be the perfect place to make friends and provide a sense of belonging. Nobody knows this better than the citizens of Czechia and Japan,  which share the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.6%.

The most sunshine - Australia (2,949 hours annually)

Spending time in the sunshine can boost your mood, calm you down, and give you a better sense of well-being. Australia has the most sunshine, clocking in at 2,949 hours annually, more than 120 hours ahead of the US in second place. 

The lowest annual working hours - Germany (1,354) 

A healthy work-life balance is vital for your happiness. It prevents stress from overworking and gives you more time to do what you love with your family and friends. German workers enjoy the best work-life balance with the lowest annual working hours on the list, at 1,354.

The highest safety score - Switzerland (78.3/100)

Knowing you’ll be safe from crime means you’ll spend more time doing the things you enjoy without worrying about your security, which can harm your mental health. Switzerland is the safest country in our index, with a safety score of 78.3 out of 100. 

The happiest US states

  • Wyoming: Happiness score: 8.22/10

Wyoming is the happiest state in the US, scoring 8.22 out of 10 in our index. It shares second place for average peak sunlight hours, with 6. Wyoming also ranks in the top 10 for its 2.8% unemployment rate and $77,837 average annual salary. 

  • New Hampshire: Happiness score: 7.71/10

New Hampshire takes second place with a score of 7.71 out of 10. The state ranks third for average peak sunlight hours with five. It also places just inside the top 10 for its crime rate of 3,704 per 100,000 people and its average income of $77,260.

  • Florida: Happiness score: 7.65/10

Florida completes the top three. The Sunshine State ranks second for its average peak sunlight hours, with six. It also ranks just outside the top five for its crime rate, 3,438 per 100,000 people. Overall, Florida has a happiness score of 7.65 out of 10.

The states with…

The highest average annual income - Massachusetts ($87,812) 

Earning higher wages means having easier access to things like healthcare and housing, which are vital for your well-being and happiness. Massachusetts takes the top spot for this factor, with residents earning an average of $87,812 annually.

The lowest unemployment rate - North Dakota (2.0%)

Being employed means you’re guaranteed a regular income. This can relieve the financial stresses of everyday life, giving you a sense of security and the ability to plan for the future.  North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate, at a mere 2.0% of its population.

The most sunshine - Arizona and New Mexico (7 hours)

Arizona and New Mexico share the highest average peak sunshine hours, at seven. Arizona shares the top spot thanks to mountain ranges in the west, blocking moisture in the air from reaching the rest of the state. This creates less cloud cover and more sunshine. Due to its high altitude, New Mexico gets a lot of sunshine, with the thinner atmosphere being less effective at blocking sunlight.

The lowest crime rate - Maine (3,176 per 100,000 people)

Maine tops the list as the safest state in the US when it comes to crime rates. Due to its low population density, strong community, and relatively low poverty rate, the state has only 3,176 crimes per 100,000 people.

The happiest Canadian provinces

  • Ontario and Quebec: Happiness score: 6.88/10

Ontario and Quebec share the top spot as Canada’s happiest provinces, scoring 6.88 out of 10. Ontario ranks second for its relatively low crime rate of 4,151 per 100,000 people and third for its average income of $46,500. It also places in the top five for its low unemployment rate of 5.7%.

Quebec has the lowest unemployment rate, at just 4.5%. The territory also has the lowest crime rate, 3,508 crimes per 100,000 people, and ranks in the top five for its average income of $43,900. 

  • Alberta and Saskatchewan: Happiness score: 6.25/10

Two provinces also share third place, with Alberta and Saskatchewan scoring 6.25 out of 10. Alberta has the highest average income on the list at $48,700. The province also ranks second for its 2,310.1 annual sunshine hours. 

Saskatchewan also ranks second. The province has 2,377 annual sunshine hours, the most on the list. It also ranks second for its low unemployment rate of 4.8%.

The provinces with...

The highest average annual income - Alberta ($48,700)

Earning high wages gives you more control over your time, leaving space to enjoy life by doing what you love or simply going on vacation. Thanks to a lucrative oil and gas sector, Alberta takes the top spot, with its citizens earning an average of $48,700 a year.

The lowest unemployment rate - Quebec (4.5%)

Working provides structure and routine, which provides stability. This stability helps you stay organized and productive, giving you a greater sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and happiness. Quebec has the lowest unemployment rate of the territories, at just 4.5%.

The most sunshine - Saskatchewan (2,377 hours annually)

Located in the Canadian Prairies, far away from the cooling effects of the oceans on both sides of the country, Saskatchewan tops the list for the most sunlight hours, clocking in at 2,377 hours annually.

The lowest crime rate - Quebec (3,508 per 100,000 people)

Thanks to a strong social safety net, reducing the social and economic factors that contribute to crime, a well-funded education system, and well-trained law enforcement, Quebec has the lowest crime rate of the territories we looked at. It tops the list with only 3,508 crimes per 100,000 people.


Beginning with a list of Countries with a Human Development Index Score of over 0.8, according to The United Nations Development Programme, US states, and Canadian territories*, we analyzed each one on the following factors. We then gave each country a normalized score out of ten for each of the factors, before taking an average across each of these scores to reach our final overall score out of ten.


Retirement Age

The average retirement age in each country for individuals retiring in 2022, according to The OECD. An average of both sexes was taken for countries that split data between sexes.

Average Salary

The average annual wages in each country in 2022, according to the OECD.

Unemployment Rate

The total number of employed people as a percentage of the labour force in each country, according to The World Bank.

Average Annual Sunshine Hours

The average annual sunshine hours in each country calculated by taking an average of the listed locations in each country, sourced from Wikipedia.

Average Annual Working Hours (per worker)

The average annual hours worked per worker in 2017, according to Our World in Data.

Safety Index Score

The safety index score in each country ranked out of 100, according to Numbeo.

US states:

Average Income

The average personal income in each state in 2023, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Unemployment Rate (March 2024)

The unemployment rate in each state in March 2024, according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average Peak Sunlight Hours

The average number of hours of sunlight that reach an average intensity of 1,000 watts per square meter per day in each state, according to TurbineGenerator.

Crime rate per 100,000 people

The total number of crimes against persons, property and society in each state in 2022, according to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System Tables, divided by the population covered in each state, multiplied by 100,000.

Canadian territories:

Average Income (USD)

The average after-tax income of Canadian workers in each province in 2022, according to Statistics Canada.

Unemployment Rate (2023)

The total proportion of unemployed people in each province according to Statistics Canada.

Annual Sunshine Hours

The average number of sunshine hours taken from weather stations within 25 kilometers of the capital or the closest weather station with data available for each province, taken from the Government of Canada.

Crime rate per 100,000 people (2022)

The total number of crimes in each province in 2022 divided by the population, multiplied by 100,000, according to Statistics Canada.

Currencies were converted on 05/16/2024 using xe.com.

*The province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the territories of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut were excluded from the index due to a lack of data.

All data correct as of 05/16/2024.