It’s Cold, Dark and Lacks Parking. But Is This Finnish Town the World’s Happiest?

Patrick Kingsley in The New York Times:

Jan Mattlin was having what counts as a bad day in Kauniainen. He had driven to the town’s train station and found nowhere to park. Mildly piqued, he called the local newspaper to suggest a small article about the lack of parking spots. To Mr. Mattlin’s surprise, the editor put the story on the front page. “We have very few problems here,” recalled Mr. Mattlin, a partner at a private equity firm. “Maybe they didn’t have any other news available.” Such is the charmed life in Kauniainen (pronounced: COW-nee-AY-nen), a small and wealthy Finnish town that can lay claim to being the happiest place on the planet. Finland was named the world’s happiest country by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network in April, based on polling results from 156 nations. And a second survey found that Kauniainen’s 9,600 residents were the most satisfied in Finland, leading the local mayor, Christoffer Masar, to joke that theirs was the happiest town on earth.

…Kauniainen’s blandly named Adult Education Center, a tall building on the edge of town, did not sound promising. But it was here, not the bar, where large numbers of residents were having fun that evening. In the basement, they were weaving carpets on vast looms, and making pottery. On the ground floor, a choir was singing. On the floors above, others were painting replicas of Orthodox Christian icons — or practicing yoga. Subsidized by both the state and the city, the center offers cheap evening classes to residents “in basically anything that people might be interested in,” said Roger Renman, the center’s director.

More here.