Niskayuna ranked happiest town

PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER A rainbow appears over Niskayuna High School as the sun breaks through the clouds after a full day of rain Tuesday, December 22, 2015.PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER A rainbow appears over Niskayuna High School as the sun breaks through the clouds after a full day of rain Tuesday, December 22, 2015.

By Indiana Nash

Gazette Reporter

— Residents talk about smiles and volunteerism. The career website zippia.com talks about the high rate of home ownership and marriage, adding weight for high income.

It comes down to this: Niskayuna is the happiest town in New York state.

Zippia.com surveyed 341 towns in the state with populations of 2,000 or more and determined “life is all rainbows and butterflies” in Niskayuna.

The survey used the following criteria in rating overall happiness:

•Being well-educated (population with at least a bachelor’s degree)

•Having a job (as measured by the unemployment rate)

•A short commute to work

•Low cost of living

• Having a family (getting and staying married)

• Owning a home

• A low poverty rate

Other towns in the top 10 are Westvale, near Syracuse; Harris Hill, near Elmira; and six towns on Long Island.

It’s not a scientific poll, and perhaps because it’s weighted toward home ownership and marriage, New York City comes in dead last, at 341.

And many towns and cities in the Capital Region, including Schenectady, Albany, Troy, Ballston Spa, Amsterdam and Mechanicville, all land in the 300s.

But this is Niskayuna’s day to be No. 1, and there’s plenty to celebrate.

As of 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57.6 percent of Niskayuna residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 96.1 percent graduated from high school. The median income (from 2014 records) is reported as $95,542 and owner-occupied housing is at 83.7 percent.

Town Board member Denise McGraw says it’s more than statistics that make Niskyauna great.

“I’m not surprised at all by the ranking. As a community, we pride ourselves on a number of things that factor into a high quality of life,” she said. “We love our neighbors and have a true sense of volunteerism.”

One resident shared the ranking on Facebook, commenting, “Great people with a strong sense of community. . . . so glad to have landed here eight years ago!”

To get a look beyond the statistics, this reporter went around the community and asked residents what they thought about the ranking. Here’s what a few community members had to say:

• “We have a lot of really great parks in the area that are well cared for,” said Ruth Labrie.

• “You get the impression that everyone is very respectful of one another and happy to be here,” said Bonnie and George Arnold.

•“People are really outgoing here and are always willing to help each other out. We have a lot of great parks and when people are there they actually interact with one another. People here will also go out of their way to help out anyone who is having a bit of trouble,” said James Williams.

• “People in the area will often say hi or smile to people in the community even when they don’t necessarily know each other,” said Peg Watrous.

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