To describe what characterizes residents with higher levels compared with those with lower levels of thriving in nursing homes using the Thriving of Older People Assessment Scale.Thriving is conceptualized as people's experiences of well-being in relation to the environment where they live. Thriving has the potential to emphasize health-promotion and positive experiences in nursing home residents in addition to current focus on illness and symptoms.Cross-sectional design.Data from a total sample of 191 residents in a large Swedish nursing home facility were separated into two groups; rated as having high and low thriving based on a median split of thriving total score for each participating resident. The characteristics of residents with higher and lower levels of thriving were compared using bivariate analyses to investigate differences. Data were collected in 2013.Residents with higher levels of thriving had shorter length of stay at the facility, higher functioning in Activities of Daily Living and less cognitive impairment, lower frequency of behavioural and psychological symptoms and higher assessed quality of life. The ability to walk and possibilities to spend time outdoors were higher among those with higher levels of thriving.Nursing home residents who experience thriving have a higher level of functioning in activities of daily living, a higher quality of life and are less physically and cognitively impaired.