Perhaps it's the city's high median household income. Or maybe it's the community's 10-mile long beach, the weather or the abundance of shopping.
Whatever the reason, Naples is bubbling over with happiness.
The University of British Columbia recently ranked Naples as the fourth-happiest place in the U.S. No other Florida city made the study's top 10, which tabbed Charlottesville, Va., as America's happiest city after surveying respondents about their life satisfaction. With its abundance of retired CEOs, upscale gated communities and recent spike in tourism jobs, is Naples' wealth buying its happiness? Naples psychologist Parker Mott believes there's more to the question.
"To say money is the main factor would be incorrect," Mott said. "There are so many factors to happiness. Weather plays a big factor here. As you know many residents are from the North and their seasons fluctuate there. It's like a seasonal depression for them before they move down here and enjoy this 365-day a year sunny weather.
"Retirement as well is a means of success. The retirees often come down here to Naples and are grouped with people who have had financial success in their careers. When you're with other people who are happy it creates this happy group environment."
Most Naples residents have more disposable cash than other in areas of the state. Naples' median household income is $77,525, above the state average of $47,309, according to the U.S. Census. The median value of owner-occupied Naples housing units is $739,500. The state average is $170,800.
"If you're a millionaire, yes, it's happy here, but if you are making $35,000 here it's not nearly as fun," said 53-year-old Andreas Brandt, a Naples resident for 10 years.
"Naples doesn't have as much diversity of crafts, industry and trade. There should be more options to earn a good salary here. So fourth-happiest place? It depends what
you're comparing it to. To the Bronx? Yeah!"
Jimmy Coughlin, an 18-year Naples resident, disagreed by saying the city's weather and wildlife will make anyone happy. Naples resident Lizabeth Cuenya, 55, agreed.
"The beaches, the shopping are great," Cuenya said. "The only thing that is not so great is the traffic during season. So tell everyone it's horrible here so more people don't come. But they are going to keep coming because it's great here."
A 2008 international study conducted by University of Pennsylvania researchers showed that people with higher annual incomes reported more happiness, even in rich countries. Recent studies of lottery winners have proved the same result.
Having more money can cushion the effect of life stresses and transitions, giving people more options and resources, Mill Valley, Calif., psychologist Melanie Greenberg recently analyzed. Money can pay for child care, therapy, medications, or vacations to help people cope. Also, without resources, an unexpected event such as an injury, serious illness, or unemployment can condemn a family to poverty and put excessive stress on relationships.
"Although money does buy happiness, it is not the only ingredient," Greenberg said. "Money may make us smug and materialistic, leading us to miss out on life's simple pleasures and not fully appreciate the gifts of family or nature."
Joshua Gottlieb, of the University of British Columbia's Vancouver School of Economics, said his research showed that individuals may be willing to endure less happiness in exchange for higher incomes or lower housing costs.
"Our research indicates that people care about more than happiness alone, so other factors may encourage them to stay in a city despite their unhappiness," Gottlieb said.
Naples' recent job growth could be another reason for residents to smile. This month, Forbes Magazine said Naples will have the fastest job growth among the 200 largest metro areas with an annual rate of 4.1 percent through 2016, according to Moody's Analytics. Collier had the fastest job growth in the state in 2012. Collier's annual job growth rate of 3.4 percent was a result of growth in the business services industry (plus-12.4 percent); construction (plus-4.4 percent); leisure and hospitality (plus-4.4 percent) and manufacturing (plus-4 percent).
"That job growth has been a continuing factor for us," said Jack Wert, Collier County's tourism director. "Our hospitality tourism sector has seen 42 straight months of job growth. That great job growth helps economic development in the future because when people look for places to move, they first visit as a visitor. If they see job growth, they're going to bring more."
A look at the U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest reported happiness:
1. Charlottesville, Va.
2. Rochester, Minn.
3. Lafayette, La.
4. Naples, Fl.
5. Baton Rouge, La.
6. Flagstaff, Ariz.
7. Shreveport, La.
8. Houma, La.
9. Corpus Christi, Texas
10. Provo, Utah
Article Courtesy of: News-Press