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Do you live in one of the best states in America?
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.
What is the best state in America? Turns out New Hampshire is the best state to live in the country based on the data. The worst? You might not be too surprised that New Mexico takes the cake.
Within the USA, there are some really lousy places to live and some super great places to live. Even in some large cities, there's a safe side of town and a rough side of town. If you live in the northeast, things are looking pretty rosy about now.
We're sure, many of you will be thinking - my state wasn't mentioned, but I love where I live! To that we would say great - good for you, but we only focused on the data for this analysis.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. Or check out more on the worst states in America. For more positive news, feel free to check out the best places to live in the country.
Or, if you're interested in reading something else, check out:
- Cheapest States In America
- Cheapest Cities To Live In America
- Safest Cities In America
- Cheapest States To Live In
The 10 Best States To Live In America For 2020
It was close, but New Hampshire finished a tad bit ahead of Massachusetts when it comes to the best state to live in America for 2020. Is that a surprise? Possibly for everyone who lives outside of New Hampshire, it is. This is the third year in a row NH claimed this mantle.
New Hampshire just kicks butt in many ways. To start, crime is the lowest in the country. When you look at the number of people killed in each state, it's pretty telling. California is way up here, and New Hampshire is way down here. There's 130x less violence in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire also has the nation's first least number of people living in poverty. That's a sign people are self reliant and independent. It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to live here; people are educated and really healthy. The only setback for youth is the high cost of getting a college degree, but there are lots of jobs in the area when you're done. The unemployment rate here is basically zero.
No place is perfect, while there's no income tax here, property taxes are through the roof.
Add it all up (other factors included), and you can't find a better place to live than in the Granite State. Overall, if you live in New Hampshire, you're likely a pretty happy camper.
Massachusetts is an awesome place to live. Households bring in over $74,000 a year, which isn't too shabby.
Homes are some of the most expensive in the country. That's a good sign that the overall economy in the Bay State is stable, and there's demand to live there. As economists, we know that home prices are the single biggest determinant of demand to live in a place and high home prices mean a lot of demand for this Northeastern state.
Massachusetts is also one of the most densely pact states in the county (3rd most), so there's plenty to do in a short drive.
Our next stop is truly an island paradise. We're heading to Hawaii! Hawaii ranks as the third best state to call home for 2020. There's lots things that make Hawaii a great state. Hawaii gets an A-plus by CNBC for it's latest quality of life score, citing clean air, a ton of things to do, and really low crime rates. Plus, there's rainbows everywhere.
And amazing beaches.
It's expensive to live in Hawaii, sure. Home prices are the highest in the land - the average Hawaiian home costs over $690,000. You get what you pay for though - there's beauty around every corner, and most residents live a healthy, safe life, according to the numbers. Everyone wants to live here, as you can tell by the astronomically high home prices. That also means a lot of well educated folks call Hawaii home.
The state does not appear higher on the list because of a bit of a crime problem relative to the rest of the top ten, but nothing to sneeze at.
Growing up in New Jersey, I would have told you it's the best state, but I'll settle for #4. What other state can elicit a cheer from every native across the bar?
New Jersey residents are some of the wealthiest in the country; families here earn about $76,000 a year. 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.
Connecticut misses the top three for the first time in a while. 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.
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. Connecticuters are also very educated. There are only three other states with bigger brains than here. 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. Connecticut ranks as the 12th safest, in terms of annual crimes, and fifth lowest for violent crimes.
However, they certainly aren't spending all that money on the roads, nor are the highways in Connecticut safe. The Pothole State was voted as having the nation's worst roads. Half of them are considered in disrepair on any given year. Drivers can be selfish, and the wealthy people in Connecticut are sorta snobby. Guess you just have to have thick skin to live here.
Plus, we discovered that if you like people with fresh breath, Connecticut is your place. Connecticuters have the cleanest teeth in all the land. Definitely something to be proud of.
Vermont is a great place to live for completely different reasons. Crime here is really low; Vermont is the second safest state you can live in. (New Mexico is the most dangerous). There were only 10 murders in Vermont in all of last year. In Chicago, that many people get shot at one party!
If you value a good public school education, then Vermont 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. Vermont also ranks as the third best place for health insurance, too. Which means people here are healthy as a clam stuck in the mud.
And finally, Vermont has the beautiful Lake Champlain, one of the most picturesque places in the country. People in Vermont are like: Stop saying we're awesome. We don't want any more people moving here!" Sorry, Vermont, you're just so likable.
Minnesota moved up a spot to the seventh best states to live in America. Overall in Minnesota, people work pretty hard and have good values. The unemployment rate is the fifth lowest in America, and for darn good reason -- there's pride in work.
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, second only to the northeast. In Minnesota, families earn about $63,000 a year, 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. Houses are selling faster than in most other states.
The only knock on Minnesota is of course, the weather. Minnesota winters were actually voted as the worst in America. There are long stretches in Minnesota when you're trapped at home. You can't even get your car doors open, much less drive through all the snow.
Minnesota thinks it should be first in America. That's a little aggressive, Minnesota. You're pretty cool, but not THAT cool.
Virginia took a bit of a hit this year as it's a bit too close to the swamp that is DC to maintain a higher position in the pantheon of best states.
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 13th 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 and they are some of the least crowded you'll find. The only real category where Virginia did poorly is insured residents as over 10% of residents lack coverage.
Rhode Island, our ninth best state to live in America. Now, here in Rhode Island, the statistics are pretty solid. This is the 11th safest state you can live in, based on violent and property crimes per capita. It's also sixth in terms of number of residents who have medical coverage, and 12th in terms of secondary education.
What's also interesting about Rhode Island is that it is the 2nd most densely populated state in America. Some might say that's bad - they want wide open spaces. However, Rhode Island's commute times are about average, nothing like in nearby New York and New Jersey. That means while there are people all over here, it's not overly crowded. Having things to do, and social activities was part of what we measured.
Did you know Rhode Island has more donuts per person than any other state? That's right. There's donut shops everywhere here. You could get practically any type of donut on your short drive to work each day.
Rhode Island has a lot to boast about.
Rounding out the top ten best states for 2020 is Maryland. Sunshine on your shoulders can make you happy. It's been proven. And in Maryland, the sun shines a lot. Some of the best places include Mount Airy and Bowie, while not exactly known names, they beat Baltimore handily.
Maryland families command the highest salaries in the U.S. with more than $78,000 a year combined income. In addition to the great public schools in Maryland, residents are some of the most educated in the country. A staggering 40.0% of adults have completed college which ranks as the third best in the country.
So overall, Maryland is a pretty great place to live according to the numbers.
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, insurance, things to do and a stable economy.
So we researched the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers for the best states in the nation for 2020
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the most recent 2014-2018 American Community Survey , this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The lower the worse)
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Low Median Income
- Low Home Values
- Low Levels of College Education
- A lot of uninsured people
- High Crime
- High poverty
We then ranked each state from 1 to 50 for the criteria with a #1 ranking being the best for the particular criteria. Next, we averaged the rankings into one "Best Place To Live Index".
Finally, we ranked every state on the "Best Place To Live Index" with the lowest index being the Best State To Live in America for 2020, New Hampshire. You can download the data here.
If you'd like to see the complete list of states, from best to worst, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.
Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the states themselves. This list is based on data. It's also not a testament to the effectiveness of local law enforcement.
There You Have It -- The Best States To Live In The Country
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 low poverty (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:
- New Mexico
For more reading, check out:
What Are The Best States In America For 2020?