America’s Best and Worst States to Live In

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10. Virginia
> 10-yr. population growth:
13.6% (18th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.2% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (12th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.0 years (24th highest)

An education helps improve access to the job market, and states with high college attainment rates also often have low unemployment rates. Virginia’s unemployment rate of 4.3% is one of the lower jobless rates in the nation. As in many of the other best states to live in, Virginia residents are quite wealthy. A typical household earns $64,902 each year, the eighth highest annual median household income in the nation. In states with the best living conditions, demand for housing is often very high, which tends to drive up home values. A typical home in Virginia is valued at $247,800, well above the national median home value of $181,200.

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9. Hawaii
> 10-yr. population growth:
14.7% (13th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.4% (10th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.3 years (the highest)

Based on the relative value of the dollar, no state is more expensive than Hawaii. Still, as in many of the other best states to live in, Hawaii residents are quite wealthy. A typical household earns $69,592 each year, the fifth highest annual median household income in the nation. The state also has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country, with just 11.4% of the population living below the poverty line, compared to a national rate of 15.5%. As in most states with low poverty rates and high incomes, the average Hawaii resident will enjoy a relatively long life. The state’s population lives to be 81.3 years, a longer average life expectancy at birth than any other state population. The 31% share of adults in Hawaii who have at least a bachelor’s degree is roughly in line with the national attainment rate of 30.1% of adults.

8. Vermont
> 10-yr. population growth:
4.0% (6th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.1% (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.2% (15th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.5 years (5th highest)

While income is often a determinant of quality of life in a state, in many cases states offer a high quality of life despite a relatively lower income. In Vermont, the typical household earns $54,166, only slightly above the national median of $53,657. The state is above average, however, by many other measures. The average Vermont resident, for example, will enjoy a relatively long life. The life expectancy at birth in Vermont of 80.5 years is higher than the national life expectancy of 78.9 years. An education helps improve access to the job market, and states with high college attainment rates also often have low unemployment rates. Vermont’s unemployment rate of 3.7% is one of the lower jobless rates in the nation.

7. Maryland
> 10-yr. population growth:
9.4% (24th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.8% (24th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.1% (2nd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.8 years (25th lowest)

Populations in the best states to live tend to earn more money, and in Maryland the typical household has the highest median income of any state at $73,971 a year, more than $20,000 above the typical U.S. household. The state’s poverty rate of 10.1% is also the second lowest rate in the nation. The high incomes help residents afford some of the nation most expensive housing. The typical home in Maryland is worth $288,500, the fifth highest median home value in the country. For many potential homeowners, nothing is more important than a safe neighborhood. Yet Maryland has one of the higher violent crime rates in the country at 446.1 incidents per 100,000 residents, much higher than the national rate of 356.5 incidents for every 100,000 residents.

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6. Colorado
> 10-yr. population growth:
17.4% (8th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.0% (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.0% (13th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.0 years (11th highest)

Not only is an education important to better employment and income, but also it is — on its own — a major component of a better quality of life. Of adults in Colorado, 38.2% have a college degree, the second highest bachelor attainment rate in the nation. An education helps improve access to the job market, and states with high college attainment rates also often have low unemployment rates. Colorado’s unemployment rate of 4.0% is one of the lower jobless rates in the nation. In states with the best living conditions, demand for housing is often very high, which tends to drive up home values. A typical home in Colorado is valued at $255,200, well above the national median home value of $181,200.