Why You Could Find Happiness in the Great State of Michigan Like We Did

Turns out that Michiganders have it all figured out.
  • A recent GOBankingRates study revealed that it takes less money to be happy living in Michigan than all but two other states.
  • Money is just one piece of the lifetime happiness puzzle, of course. You can certainly be satisfied with less income when you don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Life Zemplified creator and Smart Money Squad member Amy Blacklock shares why living in Michigan plays a huge role in her happiness — and could for others, too.

We often hear that money can’t buy happiness, but that isn’t exactly true, is it? It can definitely help us live safer, more comfortable and more secure lives, and those are key factors in our well-being.

To this point, a recent Purdue University study determined it takes an annual salary of $60,000 to $75,000, per individual, in the United States for positive emotional well-being (day-to-day happiness). And, to consider ourselves happy from a “life satisfaction” perspective, the figure jumps to $95,000. So, for a price, it seems that money can “buy happiness” — at least to some extent.

Read More: 35 Cities Where You Can Afford to Live Off Less Than $50,000

GOBankingRates took Purdue’s study, as well as data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Neighborhoodscout.com, to determine the minimum salary you’d need to be happy in each state.

The five states with the highest minimum salary deemed necessary likely won’t surprise you:

New York$140,595

The five states with the lowest might not surprise you either:


While I believe it’s relatively easy to be happy in Michigan due to a short ride to at least one of four bordering Great Lakes, more than 11,000 inland lakes, a solid economy, good schools, top universities and decent infrastructure (minus the roads), some of my fellow residents might balk at the above figure. Some because it seems too high, others too low.

More on Michigan and Other Sweet Spots: 50 Cheapest Places to Retire Across Middle America

To be fair, all the salaries surprised me, too. It seems it takes a lot to be happy. The median salary for Americans is $30,533, according to the Social Security Administration — well below the amount needed to be happy in any state. No wonder so many people are unhappy from a financial perspective.

Since my husband and I have been fortunate to earn above these annual salary amounts, you might conclude it’s a given that we’re happy. But, it wasn’t always this way. We’ve worked hard to increase our incomes. I went back to school as an adult, we learned new skills and we took risks. Most importantly, though, we’ve learned to change our perspective about what it takes to be happy —¬†which does indeed require you to stop playing the comparison game.

Related: Want to Break the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle? Stop Caring About What People Think

Something that is also worth noting is that the Purdue study revealed once the income threshold levels are reached, additional salary increases tend to be associated with lower levels of well-being and life satisfaction. One likely reason is that once our basics needs are met, and a few niceties are purchased, we find little happiness in pursuing more material items — often bought as a result of social comparisons.

If you’re in a state where your salary is lower than the study claims you’d need to be happy, you might need to do some of the things we did. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, invest in yourself and work hard to build a better future. Or, hey, just move to Michigan. I can’t speak to Oklahoma or Mississippi.

Read More: Does Money Buy Happiness in Other Countries? New Study Finds Out

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