America’s Best States to Live In

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10. Washington
> 10-yr. population change: +13.9% (9th largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 5.4% (tied — 9th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (tied — 14th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.2 years (9th longest)

An estimated 35.1% of adults in Washington state have a bachelor’s degree, well above the 31.3% share of American adults. Better-educated populations tend to work in higher-paying jobs, and the typical household in Washington earns $67,106 a year, nearly $10,000 more than the median income nationwide. Americans with higher incomes can afford healthier lifestyles and often live longer as a result. Life expectancy at birth in Washington is 80.2 years, over a year longer than life expectancy nationwide.

As is the case with most of the top ranking states, Washington residents have greater access to parks, recreation centers, and gyms than most Americans. An estimated 88.2% of Washington residents have easy access to venues for physical activity compared to only 84.0% of Americans.

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9. Virginia
> 10-yr. population change: +10.1% (21st largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 4.0% (tied — 14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (tied — 12th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years (25th shortest)

Problems with crime tend to be local rather than statewide, but across Virginia crime tends to be low and the state is relatively crime free compared to most of the country. There were just 217 violent crimes reported in the state for every 100,000 residents, nearly half the national figure of 397 incidents per 100,000 people.

Virginians are also among the most likely to have a college degree, which often results in higher incomes and better quality of life across a population. Just over 38% of Virginia adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31.3% of adults nationwide. This high educational attainment rate may help explain Virginia’s relatively low unemployment rate. Last year, average unemployment was 4.0%, well below the national average rate of 4.9%.

8. Hawaii
> 10-yr. population change: +11.1% (14th largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.0% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (2nd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.2 years (the longest)

By many social and economic measures, Hawaii is one of the best places to live in the United States. The state’s poverty rate of just 9.3% is the second lowest in the country, and the median household income of $74,511 a year is about $16,900 higher than the national median. Of course, goods and services are also quite expensive in the state, but unlike other states with high costs of living, the state has relatively low income inequality. The state also has the second highest health insurance coverage rate of all states. Just 3.4% of Hawaiians are without health insurance, compared to 8.5% of Americans.

Beyond the measures considered here, many Hawaiian residents and visitors would likely contend that the state is a pleasant place to live due to its climate. The average monthly temperature is lowest in January, at 73 degrees.

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7. Minnesota
> 10-yr. population change: +6.8% (21st smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.9% (tied — 12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (tied — 6th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.7 years (4th longest)

In measures of both behaviors and outcomes, Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the country. Minnesota has the lowest premature death rate of any state and one of the most physically active populations. With generally healthy lifestyles and relatively uncommon premature death, Minnesota’s life expectancy at birth of 80.7 year is higher than in all but three other states and nearly two years longer than U.S. life expectancy.

Healthy lifestyles in the state are bolstered by relative financial security. The typical household in Minnesota earns $65,599 a year, about $8,000 more than the typical American household. Additionally, the state is one of only six in which fewer than 1 in 10 residents live in poverty.

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6. Maryland
> 10-yr. population change: +7.1% (22nd smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 4.3% (19th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.7% (3rd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years (22nd longest)

The typical Maryland household earns $78,945 a year, the highest median income of any state and about $21,300 more than the typical American household income. The higher incomes translate to a relative lack of serious financial hardship in the state — Maryland is one of only six states in which fewer than 1 in 10 residents live in poverty. The higher incomes also mean more Maryland residents can afford healthy diets and lifestyles, and the state’s life expectancy of 79.3 years at birth is nearly half a year longer than life expectancy across the country as a whole.

Maryland’s favorable socioeconomic outcomes are underpinned by a well-educated population. Some 39.3% of adults in the state have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than in all but two other states.