Powell Street in San Francisco

Powell Street in San Francisco. (Photo by Daniel Abadia on Unsplash)

WASHINGTON — When it comes to living your best life, location matters. Some cities go above and beyond to promote the well-being of their residents, whether it’s by ensuring access to nutritious food, providing ample recreational facilities, or keeping healthcare costs affordable. But in other places, maintaining good health can be an uphill battle. To that point, in its annual list of the healthiest cities in the U.S., WalletHub ranks San Francisco as the clear winner — a choice sure to stir some debate considering some of the far-from-healthy problems the city faces.

To uncover the cities that prioritize their residents’ health, WalletHub crunched the numbers on more than 180 of the most populated U.S. cities. They evaluated each city using 41 key indicators of good health, which were grouped into four main categories: Health Care, Food, Fitness, and Green Space. Researchers looked at everything from the cost of a doctor’s visit to how many people are eating their fruits and veggies to the number of physically active adults. The results? A fascinating snapshot of where in America the healthy life is most accessible.

By using such a diverse array of indicators and assigning them weights based on their relative importance, WalletHub aimed to create a comprehensive and balanced ranking of the healthiest cities in America. However, it’s important to note that no ranking system is perfect, and individual health outcomes can vary widely even within cities that rank highly on these metrics. Nonetheless, this study provides a useful starting point for understanding which urban environments are most conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle.

That’s why San Fran lands atop the others. Despite being mired in a homelessness and drug overdose crisis, the weighted list is based on health factors most easily available to citizens, along with the number of individuals who take advantage of them in each city. San Francisco, though 76th overall in health care ranking, was number one both in healthy food and green space availability. It also ranked 28th overall in fitness.

Similarly, Honolulu placed second overall in green spaces and fourth overall in food, while ranking 27th in fitness and 99th in healthcare. Seattle seemed a bit more balanced than San Francisco and Honolulu, placing fifth overall in fitness, 10th in food, 11th in green space, and 28th in healthcare.

WalletHub’s Healthiest Places to Live in the U.S.

Overall Rank  City Total Score  Health Care Rank  Food Rank  Fitness Rank  Green Space Rank 
1 San Francisco, CA 67.60 76 1 28 1
2 Honolulu, HI 64.28 99 4 27 2
3 Seattle, WA 63.68 28 10 5 11
4 San Diego, CA 63.08 81 5 13 6
5 Washington, DC 63.04 39 7 25 9
6 Portland, OR 62.65 47 6 31 8
7 Denver, CO 61.99 29 11 19 16
8 Salt Lake City, UT 61.18 42 18 17 3
9 Scottsdale, AZ 60.32 19 65 1 13
10 Irvine, CA 60.29 12 30 10 17
11 Los Angeles, CA 59.61 101 3 41 20
12 Minneapolis, MN 59.47 14 32 42 10
13 Austin, TX 59.43 22 25 6 23
14 Huntington Beach, CA 59.40 24 33 2 35
15 South Burlington, VT 58.52 2 17 83 65
16 Boston, MA 58.41 8 12 48 48
17 Madison, WI 58.39 15 39 8 29
18 New York, NY 58.12 86 2 117 18
19 Pittsburgh, PA 57.76 11 20 43 31
20 Glendale, CA 57.17 53 40 15 12
21 Atlanta, GA 57.01 105 19 4 36
22 San Jose, CA 56.60 44 13 75 39
23 Orlando, FL 56.36 61 22 9 49
24 Fremont, CA 56.34 40 26 16 54
25 Portland, ME 55.70 32 16 137 4
26 Oakland, CA 55.36 98 8 64 57
27 Tampa, FL 55.26 70 28 18 58
28 Las Vegas, NV 55.23 155 27 12 25
29 Burlington, VT 54.83 4 42 86 41
30 Garden Grove, CA 54.79 73 37 74 5
31 Raleigh, NC 54.34 17 41 3 124
32 Long Beach, CA 54.29 62 21 34 63
33 Missoula, MT 54.24 13 99 44 21
34 Chicago, IL 54.23 107 14 62 45
35 Sacramento, CA 54.06 135 15 63 33
36 St. Louis, MO 53.46 139 38 11 47
37 Boise, ID 53.40 25 110 35 19
38 Overland Park, KS 53.11 1 106 45 90
39 Cincinnati, OH 53.06 113 56 26 27
40 Miami, FL 53.05 96 9 89 77
41 St. Paul, MN 53.01 41 79 53 26
42 Grand Rapids, MI 52.96 27 52 61 44
43 Rochester, NY 52.69 78 29 116 15
44 Phoenix, AZ 52.65 92 34 47 51
45 Oceanside, CA 52.24 80 58 7 94
46 Richmond, VA 52.13 36 54 23 95
47 Tempe, AZ 52.12 60 78 39 32
48 Philadelphia, PA 52.04 120 23 66 52
49 Fort Lauderdale, FL 51.97 56 44 77 50
50 Columbia, MD 51.78 6 69 71 91
51 Santa Clarita, CA 51.72 20 48 90 56
52 Anaheim, CA 51.37 64 35 51 82
53 Virginia Beach, VA 51.36 3 74 46 99
54 Plano, TX 50.98 26 97 14 84
55 Bismarck, ND 50.92 35 100 30 100
56 Louisville, KY 50.79 65 66 82 42
57 Vancouver, WA 50.66 88 72 20 87
58 Billings, MT 50.32 63 43 68 121
59 Pembroke Pines, FL 50.27 43 90 67 38
60 Sioux Falls, SD 50.08 7 89 78 112
61 Yonkers, NY 49.90 37 36 150 43
62 Santa Rosa, CA 49.88 97 55 72 59
63 St. Petersburg, FL 49.75 94 57 54 67
64 Albuquerque, NM 49.59 140 64 104 24
65 Buffalo, NY 49.47 66 47 99 69
66 Colorado Springs, CO 49.33 82 88 33 74
67 Charlotte, NC 49.19 48 49 21 151
68 Nashua, NH 49.17 23 105 38 137
69 Tacoma, WA 48.99 112 73 29 104
70 Providence, RI 48.78 59 83 119 28
71 Lincoln, NE 48.72 5 127 70 80
72 Spokane, WA 48.71 71 71 59 98
73 Bridgeport, CT 48.55 55 114 120 7
74 Juneau, AK 48.55 149 76 148 13
75 Jersey City, NJ 48.48 67 31 115 108
76 Manchester, NH 48.47 31 117 60 93
77 Charleston, SC 48.41 9 113 73 126
78 Aurora, CO 48.28 30 46 92 127
79 Pearl City, HI 48.04 95 59 110 73
80 Tucson, AZ 47.69 126 61 88 70
81 Milwaukee, WI 47.58 104 81 105 61
82 Omaha, NE 47.51 10 107 65 128
83 Jacksonville, FL 47.38 119 87 52 78
84 Nashville, TN 47.33 132 51 98 72
85 West Valley City, UT 47.27 128 70 111 55
86 Salem, OR 47.17 50 80 121 76
87 Reno, NV 47.12 137 75 96 64
88 Fargo, ND 47.08 33 101 108 105
89 Worcester, MA 47.08 51 104 85 88
90 Santa Ana, CA 46.86 125 45 113 92
91 Baltimore, MD 46.74 143 24 130 96
92 Houston, TX 46.66 106 63 32 141
93 Chula Vista, CA 46.60 85 67 57 135
94 Dallas, TX 46.51 122 86 37 111
95 Chandler, AZ 46.39 46 96 22 152
96 Durham, NC 46.17 21 50 87 168
97 Cedar Rapids, IA 46.08 18 149 69 115
98 Warwick, RI 45.95 34 92 128 122
99 Oxnard, CA 45.91 123 68 134 53
100 New Orleans, LA 45.58 169 123 97 34
101 Chesapeake, VA 45.54 16 119 129 89
102 Lexington-Fayette, KY 45.38 49 77 118 134
103 Modesto, CA 45.27 151 98 95 68
104 San Antonio, TX 45.21 160 112 40 83
105 New Haven, CT 45.18 87 93 159 30
106 Mesa, AZ 44.99 102 95 55 130
107 Riverside, CA 44.90 148 91 49 106
108 Henderson, NV 44.90 127 136 100 62
109 Fort Worth, TX 44.74 69 125 36 143
110 Columbus, OH 44.73 83 84 106 131
111 Springfield, MO 44.71 114 147 76 75
112 Aurora, IL 44.14 91 109 152 22
113 Wilmington, DE 44.12 52 85 178 40
114 Kansas City, MO 43.94 77 121 101 113
115 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 43.92 115 138 58 101
116 Nampa, ID 43.87 124 139 50 117
117 Glendale, AZ 43.84 117 111 84 107
118 Anchorage, AK 43.75 165 102 157 37
119 Peoria, AZ 43.68 72 120 127 97
120 Des Moines, IA 43.18 58 122 126 118
121 Gilbert, AZ 43.18 75 103 24 178
122 Columbia, SC 43.18 45 143 81 165
123 Little Rock, AR 42.99 68 148 91 140
124 Indianapolis, IN 42.93 130 94 79 150
125 Rapid City, SD 42.75 38 126 144 139
126 Cleveland, OH 42.61 116 53 158 120
127 Newport News, VA 42.05 74 141 142 81
128 Casper, WY 42.02 133 151 143 85
129 Knoxville, TN 41.98 136 115 107 147
130 Port St. Lucie, FL 41.80 100 116 114 167
131 Dover, DE 41.46 90 152 122 161
132 Akron, OH 41.37 89 160 139 71
133 Tulsa, OK 41.33 103 159 80 136
134 Tallahassee, FL 41.33 79 165 103 129
135 Lubbock, TX 40.78 129 176 56 132
136 Cheyenne, WY 40.66 57 171 155 144
137 Ontario, CA 40.31 167 133 141 46
138 Norfolk, VA 40.04 54 128 138 154
139 Fresno, CA 40.03 161 82 147 142
140 Stockton, CA 39.99 172 108 153 86
141 Birmingham, AL 39.87 121 157 112 138
142 Oklahoma City, OK 39.83 93 131 136 146
143 Arlington, TX 39.57 110 154 93 155
144 Grand Prairie, TX 39.54 111 155 165 60
145 Chattanooga, TN 39.37 131 170 124 66
146 Cape Coral, FL 39.01 134 153 125 159
147 El Paso, TX 38.76 168 124 154 109
148 Irving, TX 38.75 145 134 94 163
149 Huntsville, AL 38.70 109 167 123 170
150 Newark, NJ 38.64 166 62 175 149
151 Moreno Valley, CA 38.52 150 129 164 119
152 Hialeah, FL 38.50 142 60 169 162
153 Garland, TX 38.28 153 145 149 114
154 Bakersfield, CA 37.88 170 130 151 125
155 San Bernardino, CA 37.69 177 137 160 79
156 Fort Wayne, IN 37.60 147 142 102 171
157 Fontana, CA 37.54 163 135 156 123
158 Lewiston, ME 37.52 152 140 171 110
159 Charleston, WV 37.06 144 132 146 176
160 Mobile, AL 36.88 158 150 132 177
161 Greensboro, NC 36.76 118 144 135 175
162 Wichita, KS 36.54 141 169 109 164
163 Baton Rouge, LA 36.26 159 173 131 133
164 Toledo, OH 36.15 171 163 161 103
165 Las Cruces, NM 35.67 84 179 174 145
166 Amarillo, TX 35.55 164 164 170 116
167 North Las Vegas, NV 35.34 173 158 179 102
168 Montgomery, AL 34.63 157 175 133 181
169 Jackson, MS 34.46 138 161 167 169
170 Memphis, TN 34.11 178 168 145 148
171 Winston-Salem, NC 33.84 108 172 140 182
172 Fort Smith, AR 33.61 154 156 177 173
173 Huntington, WV 33.38 176 146 172 156
174 Detroit, MI 32.98 179 118 180 157
175 Corpus Christi, TX 32.81 174 162 162 166
176 Fayetteville, NC 32.78 146 177 166 172
177 Augusta, GA 32.71 156 166 173 174
178 Shreveport, LA 30.57 162 181 176 160
179 Columbus, GA 29.76 182 174 163 158
180 Laredo, TX 29.67 181 180 181 153
181 Gulfport, MS 29.13 175 178 168 180
182 Brownsville, TX 24.36 180 182 182 179

Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.

Standout Cities

Now, just because some cities placed lower on the overall list doesn’t mean they don’t have standout qualities. Here are some interesting points that the researchers discovered in their data.

Let’s start with one of the most crucial factors: healthcare affordability. In Laredo, Texas, the cost of a medical visit is three times lower than in Juneau, Alaska. That’s a huge difference that can make or break someone’s ability to get the care they need. St. Louis, Kansas City, and Brownsville, Texas also stood out for their low healthcare costs.

But it’s not just about affordable doctor’s visits – having enough mental health support matters too. If you’re looking for easy access to mental health counselors, Spokane, Washington and Colorado Springs tied as the top places to be, with 12 times more counselors per capita than Laredo, Texas, despite the city’s aforementioned affordability. Rapid City, South Dakota and Richmond, Virginia also scored high in this category.

Of course, preventative care is key to staying healthy, and that starts with what we put on our plates. Portland, Maine takes the cake (or should we say, the carrot?) for the lowest percentage of adults not eating enough fruits and veggies per day. San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont, California are also crushing it in the healthy eating department. On the flip side, southern cities like Memphis, Chattanooga, and Baton Rouge could use some work in getting their greens.

Healthiest Cities In The U.S.: Food Standouts
(WalletHub)

Along with what you eat, where you can eat healthy matters too. Portland, Oregon tops the list for the most healthy restaurants per capita, followed closely by New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a dietitian or nutritionist to help you stay on track, Durham, North Carolina, Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky, Billings, Montana, San Jose, California, and Madison, Wisconsin have the highest number of these professionals per capita.

Staying active is another crucial component of health, and some cities make it easier than others. If you want to break a sweat without breaking the bank, Lubbock, Texas has the lowest average monthly cost of a fitness club membership – nine times lower than in New York City. Glendale, Arizona, Bismarck, North Dakota, Columbus, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama also offer budget-friendly fitness options.

Healthiest Cities In U.S. Standouts
(WalletHub)

But the real superstars of physical activity? Look no further than South Burlington, Vermont, where the percentage of physically active adults is twice as high as in Hialeah, Florida. Irvine, California, Seattle, Washington, Huntington Beach, California, and Scottsdale, Arizona are also filled with folks who know the value of getting their heart rate up. 

Still don’t get how the researchers came to their conclusions? Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of WalletHub methodology:

  1. Each of the 41 indicators was assigned a specific weight based on its perceived importance in promoting overall health and well-being. For example, the premature death rate was given a triple weight, while metrics like the number of farmer’s markets per capita were given a full weight.
  2. The researchers gathered data for each metric from a variety of reputable sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, County Health Rankings, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.
  3. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for a healthy lifestyle.
  4. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the data was only available at the state level. For metrics marked with two asterisks (**), the researchers calculated the population size using the square root of the population to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
  5. After determining each city’s weighted average across all metrics, WalletHub used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities from most to least healthy.

Within each of the four categories, certain indicators were given additional weight:

  • In the Health Care dimension, premature death rate was given a triple weight, while other metrics like the cost of a doctor’s visit or the number of mental health counselors per capita were given a full weight.
  • Under the Food dimension, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption was assigned a double weight, while factors like the number of healthy restaurants per capita were given a full weight.
  • For Fitness, the share of adults who engage in any physical activity was given a double weight, while metrics like the average cost of a fitness club membership were assigned a full weight.
  • In the Green Space category, all indicators – such as acres of parkland per capita, hiking trails per capita, and a city’s “greenness” – were given equal weights.

So what’s the takeaway? Where you call home can have a real impact on how easy it is to live a healthy life. No matter where you hang your hat, however, making your well-being a priority – whether that’s through regular check-ups, loading up on veggies, moving your body, or taking care of your mental health – is always a worthwhile investment. And who knows? Maybe your city will top the charts next year as America’s healthiest hometown.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

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Editor

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Associate Editor

35 Comments

  1. abel garcia says:

    Needles on the ground as well as poop, urine smell makes me wonder what the criteria was for healthy living!

  2. Alfred says:

    This list is pure liberal propaganda. Most if not all the top 20 cities in the list are Democrat ran, implying that Conservative ran cities are unhealthy. Give me a break! Poop, drugs and AIDS now make you healthy!?

  3. Emory Kendrick says:

    I’d rather live under an interstate in Tampa than in million dollar brownstone in SFO. What a dump.

    BTW….”healthiest” city doesn’t mean best quality of life.