These Are The 10 Best States To Live In America


We used science and data to determine which U.S. states have it made.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

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map of the worst states in America

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Do you live in one of the best states in America?

The above map shows which states are the worst to live in. That means #50 – Nebraska – is the best state.

You might think people across the nation like to think they live in the best place in the country. After all, you wouldn’t spend your lives somewhere that you truly didn’t love. Right? Not always. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study not too long ago determined that almost half of Americans would rather live somewhere else than they do now.

Well, if you’re in one of the states we’re about to highlight, odds are you don’t want to go anywhere.

The purpose of this study is to use science to determine which of our great American states are the absolute best. While unbiased, this research does take into account factors that almost all Americans would agree are desirable. Therefore, while you may have strong opinions either way, you can’t argue against the methodology.

Turns out Nebraska is the best state to live in the country. The worst? You might not be too surprised that Mississippi takes the cake.

After analyzing all 50 U.S. states, we came up with this list as the 10 best states in our nation:

  1. Nebraska
  2. Iowa
  3. Wyoming
  4. North Dakota
  5. Minnesota
  6. Virginia
  7. Kansas
  8. Connecticut
  9. Utah
  10. New Jersey

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. If you live in the midwest, things are looking pretty rosy about now. Or check out more on the worst states in America.

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How do you decide if a state is awesome or not?

In order to rank the best states to live in the United States, we had to determine what criteria people like about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we crunched the numbers

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:

  • Lowest Unemployment Rates
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Low Housing Vacancy Rate
  • Education (High expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
  • Short Commute Times
  • Low Crime
  • The Best Weather

If you’d like to see the complete list of states, from worst to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.

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1. Nebraska

Wikipedia

Population: 1,827,928
Median income: 4th highest in the country
Commute time: 4th shortest
Unemployment rate: 3rd lowest in the country

It was close, but Nebraska finished a tad bit ahead of Iowa when it comes to the best state to live in America. Is that a surprise? Possibly for everyone who lives outside of Nebraska, it is.

The adjusted household income for Nebraska residents average $57,000, which is actually just about the highest in the country. (Maryland residents earn the most money in the nation).

Not only do Nebraska folks earn great salaries, almost all of them are employed. Only 3.3% of the people here are without jobs. And as you can imagine, commute times are just about as low as you’ll see here, too. It takes about 18 minutes to drive to work, on average in Nebraska.

In a lot of states, it takes 18 minutes just to get to the highway in the morning.

Add it all up (other factors included), and you can’t find a better place to live than in the Cornhusker State.

2. Iowa

Wikipedia

Population: 3,047,646
Income: 5th highest in the nation
Commute time: 6th lowest
Household vacancy rate: 2nd lowest in the U.S.

Iowa is an awesome place to live for some of the same reasons that makes Nebraska so great. Households bring in an adjusted $51,000 a year, which isn’t too shabby. And money goes a long way in Iowa.

Only 8.5% of the houses in Iowa are vacant. That’s a good sign that the overall economy in the Hawkeye State is stable, and there’s demand to live there. And less abandoned homes means better neighborhoods and involvement.

Like Nebraska, getting to work is a breeze. It takes about 19 minutes, door to door. That’s some real extra family time they’re getting in Iowa.

3. Wyoming

Wikipedia

Population: 562,803
Crime: 6th lowest in the U.S.
Education: 4th best
Weather 8th best in the country

Wyoming is a great place to live for completely different reasons. Crime here is really low; Wyoming is the 6th safest state you can live in. (South Carolina is the most dangerous).

If you value a good public school education, then Wyoming is your place. The schools here are well funded, and just about the least crowded that you’ll find in the country. That’s not a surprise, since just more than a half million people live in the entire state.

It might surprise you to hear that Wyoming’s comfort index is really high. When you factor in sunny days, annual temperatures and humidity levels, you can’t get much more comfortable than here. (Nevada and Colorado are rated as the most comfortable states, weather wise.)

Plus, you don’t pay income tax in Wyoming. Everyone’s on board with that one.

4. North Dakota

Wikipedia

Population: 676,253
Unemployment rate: Lowest in the country
Commute time: Lowest in the country
Crime: Lowest in the U.S.

While North Dakota might get a lot of grief for its excitement level, it scores a perfect 10 when it comes to three really desirable factors: safety, jobs and time with the family.

A lot of the job growth can be attributed to the natural gas industry, which has sprung up due to the controversial fracking boom here. But if you don’t have a job in North Dakota it’s either because you don’t want a job or are unable to work.

Income levels here are actually quite decent as well.

5. Minnesota

Eagle Mountain, MN. Wikipedia

Population: 5,312,324
Income levels: 6th highest in the country
Crime: 13th lowest
Household vacancy rate: 10.4%

Minnesota is part of what we refer to as the ‘nidwest’ – for northern midwest. And when you look at the numbers, the nidwest rocks when it comes to livability.

In Minnesota, families earn about $57,000 a year after adjustments, which is one of the highest numbers in the nation. And not only do they live relatively comfortable lives, folks in Minnesota are a lot safer than most other states, too.

You can’t really ask for a better combination.

Houses are selling faster than in most other states. The only knock on Minnesota is of course, the weather. The number of sunny days here is towards the bottom, and of course, you can expect snow here at any time for a six-month stretch.

6. Virginia

The Virginia State capital. Wikipedia

Population: 8,0149,23
Household income: 3rd highest in the nation
Crime: 7th lowest
Teacher-student ratio: 11th lowest

Virginia and Maryland are just about the wealthiest states in the country. We’re not saying that money is the cure-all for happiness, but it sure does help a lot. And you might be surprised to hear that Virginia is actually the third least dangerous state in the country. That’s according to the latest FBI statistics, which measure violent and property crimes per capita.

The public schools in Virginia are above average, but they are some of the least crowded you’ll find.

The only real category where Virginia did poorly is commute time. Virginians can expect to sit in their cars for about an hour a day, which is the 6th highest in the nation.

7. Kansas

Kansas City, KS. Wikipedia

Population: 2,851,356
Sunny days: 10th most
Median income: 5th highest in the U.S.
Education spending: 4th highest

Sunshine on your shoulders can make you happy. It’s been proven. And in Kansas, the sun shines a lot. That can make a huge difference, especially during the winter months.

Kansas families command some of the highest salaries in the U.S. with more than $57,000 a year combined income, on average. That goes a long way in the Sunflower State.

The public schools in Kansas are some of the highest funded, per student in the country. In Kansas, each student gets about $1,000 more than the national average.

8. Connecticut

Wikipedia

Population: 3,572,445
Household income: 11th highest
Household vacancy: Lowest in the nation
School spending: 5th highest

Connecticut families are some of the wealthiest in the country, no doubt. But when you factor in the cost of living, those salaries don’t go quite as far here as they would in other states, like in the midwest.

Homes sell quickly here, and there are less vacant housing units in Connecticut than any other state. That’s a very positive sign for the Constitution State.

The public schools are great here – perhaps a little overcrowded, but not too bad. And it’s one of the least dangerous states in the country as well.

9. Utah

Arches National Park. Wikipedia

Population: 2,766,445
Weather: 3rd best in the country
Crime: 16th lowest
Unemployment rate: 2nd lowest

Utah’s unemployment rate is staggeringly low – just 3.2%. Which is a sign that the economy is strong here. It’s relatively safe, and homes sell quickly.

And if you like sunny days, Utah is your place. There aren’t too many other areas in the nation where the sun shines more often.

However, the public school system is rated at just about the lowest in the country when you measure spending and student attention. There’s only one other state with a school system that’s funded even worse. Here’s looking at you, New York.

10. New Jersey

The Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, NJ. Wikipedia

Population: 8,793,445
Crime: 10th lowest in the U.S.
Education: 3rd best in the country

New Jersey residents are some of the wealthiest in the country; families here earn about $56,000 after cost of living adjustments. They actually earn more than $70,000 before that high cost of living is taken into account.

It’s pretty safe in New Jersey, as a whole. and you’d be hard pressed to find a state with a better funded and managed public school system. At least for now.

The downside? It’s the most densely populated place in the state, and commute times are longer than almost anywhere else. That’s even taking into account the long stretches in Jersey where there are more cows than people.

There You Have It

Like we said earlier, trying to determine the best states in America is usually a subjective matter. But if you’re analyzing states with the best economic situations, where there’s low crime and decent weather (for the most part), this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst states in the USA, according to science. Apparently, things are not too charming in the south.

  1. Mississippi (Pop. 2,967,033)
  2. Florida (Pop. 18,885,343)
  3. Alabama (Pop. 4,777,353)
  4. Arizona (Pop. 6,410,443)
  5. Nevada (Pop. 2,704,877)

We also wrote about the 10 worst cities to live in America. Click here to read that one.

Here’s a link to all of the data.

List Of All The States From Best To Worst

City Population Rank
Nebraska 1827306 1
Iowa 3047646 2
Wyoming 562803 3
North Dakota 676253 4
Minnesota 5313081 5
Kansas 2851183 6
Virginia 8014955 7
Connecticut 3572213 8
Utah 2766233 9
New Jersey 8793888 10
south dakota 815871 11
new hampshire 1317474 12
wisconsin 5687219 13
maryland 5785496 14
pennsylvania 12699589 15
massachusetts 6560595 16
ohio 11533561 17
vermont 625498 18
indiana 6485530 19
idaho 1567803 20
new york 19398125 21
illinois 12823860 22
rhode island 1052471 23
colorado 5042853 24
oklahoma 3749005 25
texas 25208897 26
montana 990785 27
hawaii 1362730 27
washington 6738714 29
kentucky 4340167 30
missouri 5982413 31
maine 1329084 32
delaware 900131 33
california 37325068 34
north carolina 9544249 35
south carolina 4630351 36
oregon 3836628 37
arkansas 2916372 38
louisiana 4529605 39
michigan 9897264 40
alaska 711139 41
georgia 9714569 42
tennessee 6353226 43
new mexico 2055287 44
west virginia 1850481 45
nevada 2704204 46
arizona 6410979 47
alabama 4777326 48
florida 18885152 49
mississippi 2967620 50

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18 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Best States To Live In America

  1. Ya? Check it out, I’ve lived in many states and traveled the U.S. Arizona hands down is one of the WORST STATES to reside! It is riddled w/ crooked politicians, police, the courts are a joke! This is a PRISON STATE period. They make their money locking you up. People end up dead here at an alarming rate. Ive lost 3 friends in 2 months time. Now Arizona does have the most beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and mountains you have ever seen! Just breathtaking! The lakes are nice, the drives are beautiful. The weather is outstanding except the summer time. Summer is the most miserable weather ever. So aside from the people as a whole, Arizona rocks!!!

    1. Um….I live in Arizona. I am not overly thrilled with it, but I don’t know about your comment about being a “Prison State.” I have not ever had a problem with the law but I am a firm believer that if you do things that are illegal, you should pay the price. I am glad that Arizona isn’t some panty waste state that caves to the criminals. You might want to think about staying out of trouble.

  2. Are you SERIOUS??? Florida is the worst??? Ohio SUCKS!!!! According to BLS, Ohio’s unemployment rate is MUCH higher than Florida. Secondly, who in their right mind would prefer snow over warm weather??? I live in this frost bitten boring state and I can only DREAM of living in a tropical paradise that offers a permanent summer climate. This list is totally inaccurate. A second choice of a great city to live would be Las Vegas. 85% sunshine all year round and warmer climates. Interesting how the boring cold climate states are on the top of the list.

    1. I grew up in Ohio and lived there for 24 years before moving to South Dakota. Yes, the unemployment rate is pretty high. But with a proper education(which is pretty easy considering the education system in Ohio and outstanding), then it shouldn’t be too hard. And you think the winter sucks in Ohio? Try heading to South Dakota in the winter time. With temps that get well below zero on a daily basis. I’ve experienced temps as low as -72. And the snow falls between October and May and once it falls, it doesn’t melt until the spring. Ohio’s winters are very mild compared to the midwest. And I would absolutely love to move back to Ohio and raise my kids there. Sure, Florida does sound absolutely amazing to anyone living in a state that gets snow…But just because it’s by the ocean and warmer doesn’t mean it’s a better state. And the colder states are closer to the top because the population is typically lower, therefore making the crime lower, employment rate lower, and the income higher. Here in South Dakota businesses are desperate for help because there just isn’t enough people to fill all the positions everywhere.

    2. Ohio has many upsides too, I grew up there. Also, I lived in Florida for 3 years, and it sucks. There are many terrible drivers, and most natives there are just what you call “Florida Scumbags”. Believe me, Florida is a great vacation spot, but it’s not a better place to live than Ohio.

    3. Some people like the seasons and don’t want it hot all the time. We love our fall and spring in Ohio and there are some great places in Ohio, don’t rank on another state to make you feel better about your own.

  3. Living in the Utah community of St. George, 125 miles from Las Vegas NV I am always intrigued at the state and community rankings. 1st let’s take Utah and the lowest spending per pupil. Consider, Utah is the highest in birth rate and the lowest average age in the nation. Given this fact it’s worth noting that some of the highest ranked public schools systems and universities, both public and private are found in Utah. Imagine that, lower spending and higher levels of education! New concept!
    2nd, we are a balanced budget state with an almost $1B surplus, the lowest un-employment rate and highest job growth rate in the nation. In fact, more large block venture capital money is flowing into Utah than any state in the nation.
    3rd, the St. George area is a warm desert climate with 12 area golf courses, over 50 miles of paved biking trails that follow rivers and scenic byways, among the lowest per kilowatt hour of electricity rates in the nation, and a very modest cost of housing and living. St. George is the gateway to 4 national parks and several national monuments with very similar weather to Las Vegas, but very low crime, pollution and minuscule traffic problems by comparison. St. George has a new regional airport serviced by United Express and Delta Connection jet service to multiple cities. It is bisected by I-15 and is an easy drive to the pacific ocean or the Wasatch Front mountains of Salt Lake City. Google it! A pretty amazing place!

    1. That would be the international space station. Inexpensive for the astronauts, because the earthlings pay for everything! And so far, 99% employment (everyone except a couple of space tourists), zero crime rate, zero traffic accidents, zero dog bites.

  4. Nice research on Kansas. That’s a picture of Wichita, not Kansas City, and our public schools are poorly funded. I wouldn’t trust anything you write.

    1. Yeah, this writer is an idiot, and obviously has a huge bias for the midwest. Especially boring areas. Born and raised in Kansas, can’t wait to leave. Only thing worth staying here for is my friends. The climate sucks, the politicians suck, the schools suck (NOW), and the state is boring. You rank Kansas above beautiful forested areas like Oregon? Idiotic.

  5. As a person who lives in Florida, yeah the weathers great. But everything else sucks. We have a huge water issue going on which is leading to toxic bacteria on the east coast, terrible flesh-eating bacteria in the Gulf, 215 million gallons of irradiated water sinking into our aquifer. The people here are rude, the drivers suck so bad. Half of them are 75 and don’t know where they are while driving an SUV. The education system is the worst in the country so if you have kids and want them to do landscaping, great. That’s all they’ll be qualified for with a HS diploma from FL. If you like having a labor union to protect your rights, forget about it. It’s so over-populated that driving 5 miles will take you 45 min to an hour. I’m not looking forward to the snow, but I’m getting the hell out of here as soon as I can.

  6. I lived in Florida for over two years and it was nothing but a disaster from start to finish. The rent is expensive as hell, every other person you see is some type of law enforcement officer, and if you do not have a boat or some type of watercraft I cannot really see any advantage to living there or anywhere in the south for that matter. want to get worse than that? I was born and raised in Jackson,Mississippi and I can tell you it is no longer the place you want to be today. I now live in Wyoming, and can tell you this, I have never been as satisfied as far as a place to live! Come back to America! I am from the south, and the south sux ass, ALL OF IT!

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