Miami-Dade County

Here’s how much you need to make to reach ‘peak happiness’ in Miami

Kristiina Nurk, 34, enjoys a good book underneath the blue summer-like skies and weather in Miami.
Kristiina Nurk, 34, enjoys a good book underneath the blue summer-like skies and weather in Miami. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Can money buy happiness? If so, what’s the price of happiness in paradise?

According to new research by Gallup for Time magazine, a $54,000 income will buy you peak happiness in Miami, whereas it will cost nearly double that in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Seattle. But we already knew we get paid in sunshine, right?

Across 12 metro areas, Gallup and Sharecare, a personal health company, analyzed over 350,000 interviews with Americans in 2015 and 2016 with questions such as “did you experience enjoyment during a lot of the day yesterday?” and “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?” And no, they didn’t ask “How was your experience on the Palmetto?”

The researchers found that happiness hits a ceiling, just sooner in some places than others and that cost of living substantially affects daily emotions, said lead researcher Dan Witters. In Los Angeles, that ceiling is $105,000, but in Houston and Boston it’s $75,000. And that ceiling means Miami has a lot of people who could be happier: The median income in Miami-Dade is about $46,000.

Other cities where $54,000 buys peak happiness? That would be Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. But those cities aren’t the Capital of Happiness, are they?

In March, Miami even hosted the World Happiness Summit, because, well, Miami is the Capital of Happiness, or it should be, organizers said.

Where can your money go the furthest on the happiness meter? That would be Atlanta, where happiness peaks at just $42,000, the study said.

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