America’s Best and Worst States to Live In

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25. Wyoming
> 10-yr. population growth:
18.0% (6th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.3% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (6th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.3 years (18th lowest)

Wyoming falls in the middle of the livability ranking. The state’s annual median household income of $57,055 is slightly higher than the national median of $53,657. Residents are also not especially well educated. In Wyoming, 26.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, lower than the 30.1% of adults nationwide with similar education. However, Wyoming’s violent crime rate of 195.5 incidents per 100,000 people is one of the lowest in the nation. In contrast, there are 365.5 violent crimes per 100,000 nationwide.

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24. Maine
> 10-yr. population growth:
3.6% (4th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.7% (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (22nd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.2 years (23rd highest)

Maine’s annual median household of $49,462 is slightly lower than the national median of $53,657. The nation’s most northeastern state has the second lowest violent crime rate after only its neighbor Vermont. Only 128 violent crimes are reported each year per 100,000 people, significantly lower than the national violent crime rate of 365.5 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

The average American can expect to live around 79 years, although this can vary considerably between states. The life expectancy in Maine is also around 79 years. The 29.4% share of adults in Maine who have at least a bachelor’s degree is roughly in line with the national attainment rate of 30.1% of adults.

23. Alaska
> 10-yr. population growth:
14.8% (12th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 6.8% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (6th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.3 years (18th lowest)

As in many of the states in the top half of the livability ranking, Alaska residents are quite wealthy. A typical household earns $71,583 each year, the third highest annual median household income in the nation. Similarly, a typical home in Alaska is valued at $254,500, well above the national median home value of $181,200. For many potential homeowners, nothing is more important than a safe neighborhood. Alaska, however, has the highest violent crime rate in the country at 635.8 incidents per 100,000 residents, considerably higher than the national rate of 356.5 incidents for every 100,000 residents.

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22. Kansas
> 10-yr. population growth:
9.1% (20th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.5% (12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (21st lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.7 years (24th lowest)

Kansas ‘s living conditions are far from being the best in the nation, but they are not the worst either. The state’s annual median household income of $52,504 is on par with the national median of $53,657. Crime is not a major problem in the state, but it is also not unusually rare. Kansas’s violent crime rate of 348.6 incidents per 100,000 residents is just under the national rate of 365.5 incidents per 100,000 residents. The 31.5% share of adults in Kansas with at least a bachelor’s degree is also roughly in line with the national attainment rate of 30.1% of adults. The typical home value in Kansas is below average, on the other hand. The median home is worth $132,100, significantly lower than the national median home value of $181,200. However, the low home prices contribute to the state’s relatively affordable cost of living. Goods and services in the state cost around 10% less than they do across the nation.

21. Delaware
> 10-yr. population growth:
14.3% (17th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.7% (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (17th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.4 years (20th lowest)

Delaware is one of the nation’s smallest states geographically. Its population is also small — but it is growing. Over the 10 years through last year, Delaware’s population growth of 14.3% was faster than the national growth rate of 10.6% over that period. As in many of the better states to live in, Delaware residents are also relatively wealthy. A typical household earns $59,716 each year, the 14th 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 Delaware is valued at $230,500, well above the national median home value of $181,200.