Residents throughout San Luis Obispo County have a sense of pride for their communities, feel safe and enjoy what they do, according to a new well-being survey that ranked the area 10th in the nation.
The people who reported the highest ratings live in and around Naples, Fla., according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which ranks 190 metropolitan areas by the well-being of their residents based on a survey of more than a quarter-million Americans.
The rankings, released Tuesday, are based on how strongly residents rate their sense of purpose, social fulfillment, financial security, sense of community and physical health — five elements that Gallup felt “matter most to a life well-lived,” said Dan Witters, research director for the study.
In places where people report a strong sense of well-being, residents find their surroundings intellectually stimulating and safe. And they have low rates of obesity and high rates of healthy eating and exercise.
Coastal California ranked high, claiming three of the top 10 spots: Salinas placed second in the ranking, while Santa Cruz-Watsonville secured the sixth spot and San Luis Obispo County rounded out the top 10.
San Luis Obispo County placed fourth when compared only with other small communities. The area was also listed among communities that have consistently reported high well-being since 2012.
Looking at the report’s specific elements, the county ranked third in “community” well-being, defined as liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community. The area ranked 12th for “social” well-being, defined as having supportive relationships and love in your life, and 13th for “physical” well-being, or having good health and energy to get things done daily.
The area’s “financial” well-being rank, measuring residents’ abilities to manage their enconomic life to reduce stress and increase security, was lower, however, at 52.
While life is pretty grand along a stretch of southwest Florida, where communities ranked first and third, well-being isn’t limited to oceanfront communities. Fort Collins and Boulder, in Colorado, both landed spots in the top 10, as did Anchorage, Alaska.
Overall, Florida, California, Colorado and Texas were home to many of the communities with the highest well-being scores, accounting for 14 of the top 20 such places.
The bottom 20 were more disperse, though five were in Ohio. Charleston, W.Va., ranked dead last, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
The survey was based on more than 246,000 live telephone interviews conducted in 2014 and 2015. Each survey lasted about 10 to 12 minutes, throughout which individuals were asked dozens of questions, Witters said.
Washington Post staff writer Jiraj Chokshi contributed to this report.
Highest well-being communities in U.S. 2014-15
1. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.
3. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
4. Fort Collins, Colo.
5. Barnstable Town, Mass.
6. Santa Cruz-Watsonville
7. Boulder, Colo.
8. Charlottesville, Va.
9. Anchorage, Alaska
10. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande