Well, I guess we are miserable again. Or at least not very happy.
Just last year, the website WalletHub ranked Mobile as one of the “Most Fun Cities in America for 2016.” Three years earlier, Business Insider ranked us one of the “most miserable” cities to reside in.
Last September, WalletHub released its “2016 Happiest States in America” list. Sadly, Alabama ranked 50 out of 51. And no, it wasn’t our good friend Mississippi, which usually keeps us from coming in dead last on every list like this, but rather West Virginia. Mississippi was actually 48. Go on, ‘Sippi, with your bad self!
But the bottom five featured the rest of the SEC states. Yes, basically the entire South is a land of misery. They considered such factors as social connectivity, physical and emotional health, sports participation and income levels to generate their rankings.
Just this week, WalletHub put out another study of the “Happiest Places to Live for 2017,” which ranked how happy the residents of the 150 largest American cities are.
According to the site, they “examined each city based on 30 key indicators of happiness, ranging from depression rate to income-growth rate to average leisure time spent per day.”
Mobile came in a very sad 144th. And we ranked below every large city in Alabama except Birmingham, which came in an even sadder 147th, which leads me to believe the feelings of the residents of its tonier burbs were not considered. No one is ever depressed in Mountain Brook unless the renovations on their vacation home in Alys Beach or Rosemary are taking too long.
I’ll have to say, though, I would have thought Mobile would have landed close to the top just by our score on “leisure time spent per day.” I’m guessing porch drinking, happy hour-ing and crawfish eatin’ must not qualify.
Even the armpit of the state (aka Montgomery) ranked 16 spots above us at 128. Clearly, there was a math error there.
Sorry to break it to you, Disney World, but California is apparently the happiest place on Earth. Seven of the top 10 cities were in the Golden State, including the Top 4 (1. Fremont, 2. San Jose, 3. Irvine, 4. San Francisco).
Which, frankly, I find amazing.
Every time my husband and I get sucked into watching that horrible show on HGTV “Flip or Flop,” which features a (now divorcing) California couple who renovates homes, I usually say in the midst of one their many very contrived home flipping setbacks, “I just don’t understand why would anyone want to live in California. Visit, sure. But live? No thank you.”
In addition to the fires, floods and earthquakes, these annoying Flip Floppers are listing houses the size of gas station restrooms that are right next to loud freeways for over $300,000. I get how the cost of living works and wages are higher there, but still. You really just get so much more bang for your buck here.
And there is so much bangin’ here now in addition to our very affordable real estate market. We are entering my favorite time of year in this fair burg, where if you can’t find something to do every single weekend, you just aren’t looking.
Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, Downtown Cajun Cook-Off, Festival of Flowers, Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival, the Azalea Trail Run, a hot new Christenberry exhibit at Mobile Museum of Art, countless spring fundraisers, multiple concerts at all of our great local music venues, SouthSounds and Hangout Fest are just a few of the many upcoming events.
And we don’t really even need a special event to make Mobile feel special anymore. Go downtown on any given night and it is bustling. I met a couple of friends at the new Eugene’s Monkey Bar last Friday. We enjoyed sitting on its fabulous outdoor deck overlooking Bienville Square. It was packed. And as merchants were busy readying for that evening’s ArtWalk and hordes of people were walking around, the city and the streets just felt alive. They always do now.
Sure, we still have things we can improve upon — what city doesn’t? – but there is no other place in this world I would rather call home than “sweet lunacy’s county seat.”
There is just something about this place that infects you, and it’s incurable. Just ask those who have moved away. We live in one of the country’s best-kept secrets.
People from places on the top 10 of that silly list just don’t get it. They look at the South as one big stereotype. We are all fat, shirtless, toothless, uneducated rednecks who spend our “leisure time” riding around on scooters in Walmart.
When I visited a friend in New York City a couple of months ago, we went to a Broadway show. As we were waiting for the curtain to rise, we made small talk with the people who were seated next to us in the theater. When it came up in conversation that I was visiting from Alabama, the native New Yorker looked at me with a look of pity and puzzlement, as if he just couldn’t fathom why anyone would choose to live in the South. “Alabama? Really?” he asked incredulously, eyebrows raised. “Well, welcome to our country.”
He thought he was being so clever. Bless his heart.
I know no formula or silly survey can truly measure the soul of a city. Maybe we don’t eat enough tofu or spend enough time on “the Twitter” or go to therapy enough to be as “happy” as the folks in Fremont, California, but we all know those factors have very little to do with how great a city is.
And I don’t care how you crunch the numbers, I couldn’t be happier to live in this oh-so-fun yet miserable place.