America’s Best States to Live In

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5. New Jersey
> 10-yr. population change: +2.5% (8th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 5.0% (tied — 18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (tied — 9th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.3 years (8th longest)

An estimated 94.5% of New Jersey residents have access to places for physical activity, the highest share of any state. There are also a relatively high number of doctors and dentists, relative to the population. In addition to being located within close proximity to health options, New Jersey residents are also more likely to be able to afford to take care of themselves. The typical state household has an income of $76,126 a year — the third highest median income among states. Such advantages partially explain why state residents tend to live long, healthy lives. Life expectancy at birth in New Jersey is 80.3 years, approximately 1.4 years longer than the country’s average life expectancy..

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4. Colorado
> 10-yr. population change: +16.6% (5th largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.3% (tied — 6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (tied — 12th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.3 years (7th longest)

Colorado ranks as the best state to live in the western United States and the fourth best nationwide. The state has a well-educated population, with a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 39.9% is the highest in the country after only Massachusetts. Colorado’s economy is also a boon for residents. Only 2.5% of the state’s labor force was out of work in September, the second lowest unemployment rate of any state that month. The relatively low violent crime rate, in addition to a well-educated workforce, likely each have a positive effect on the state economy.

People appear to be flocking to Colorado. In the last decade, the state’s population expanded by 16.6%, one of the most significant increases of any state, and more than double the U.S. population growth of 7.9% over the same time.

3. Connecticut
> 10-yr. population change: +2.0% (6th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 5.1% (tied — 16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.8% (4th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.8 years (3rd longest)

Longevity is determined by many factors, but it is a good sign for quality of life. Connecticut’s population can expect to live an average of 80.8 years, the third longest life expectancy after California and Hawaii. Residents with higher incomes are more likely to have access to healthy activities and food, and better health care. In Connecticut, the median household income of $73,433 a year the third highest of any state, which might help explain the state’s long-lived population.

Connecticut also has a relatively high rate of health insurance coverage, as well as the fifth lowest violent crime rate in the country.

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2. New Hampshire
> 10-yr. population change: +1.5% (5th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 2.8% (tied — the lowest)
> Poverty rate: 7.3% (the lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.1 years (10th longest)

New Hampshire is perhaps the most crime-free state. Nationwide, there were 397 violent crimes and 2,450 property crimes per 100,000 people. In New Hampshire, there were just 198 violent crimes and 1,513 property crimes per 100,000 people.

The state’s job market is also one of the healthiest in the country. New Hampshire’s annual unemployment rate of 2.8% in 2016 is tied with South Dakota for the lowest of all states. People who are out of work are among the most likely to earn below poverty level incomes, so New Hampshire’s healthy job market may help explain its nation-low poverty rate of 7.3%. That figure is nearly half the national poverty rate of 14.0%.

1. Massachusetts
> 10-yr. population change: +5.8% (18th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.7% (tied — 9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (tied — 9th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.7 years (5th longest)

Having health insurance coverage has been shown to have a wide range of positive effects, including reducing stress, and in Massachusetts, thanks to the state’s groundbreaking health care system, a nation-leading 97.5% of state residents have health insurance compared to 91.5% of Americans. In addition to being more likely to be able to afford health care, state residents are more likely to be able to find the right kind of care near them. The state has the most primary care physicians, dentists, and mental health providers per capita in the country.

Massachusetts also leads the nation in another important measure of quality of life — college attainment. About 43% of state adults have a bachelor’s degree, more than 10 percentage points above the national attainment rate. A college degree has been shown to have many benefits, both on the likelihood of finding a good job and high wages, as well as in giving people a sense of control and purpose in their lives.