America’s Best States to Live In

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Richmond, Virginia, USA Skyline
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10. Virginia
> 10-yr. population growth: 14.3% (18th highest)
> Oct. unemployment rate: 4.2% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (11th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.5 years (25th highest)

Virginia residents are far more likely to be financially stable than most Americans. The typical household in the Old Dominion State earns $66,262 annually, far more than the $55,775 median annual household income nationwide. Higher incomes in the state contribute to an 11.2% poverty rate, one of the lowest in the nation.

Homeownership can significantly contribute to individual wealth, and Virginia’s 65% homeownership rate is slightly higher than the national average. The typical home in Virginia is worth more than a quarter million dollars, while the median home value nationwide is less than $200,000. Relatively low real estate taxes across the state make homeownership more affordable despite the high property values.

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
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9. Hawaii
> 10-yr. population growth: 15.6% (14th highest)
> Oct. unemployment rate: 3.2% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.6% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.6 years (the highest)

Hawaiians are some the wealthiest and healthiest people in the country. Average life expectancy at birth in the Pacific island state is 80.6 years, the highest of any state and about two years longer than life expectancy nationwide. For many in the state, healthy lifestyles are enabled by widespread health insurance coverage and high incomes. Only 4% of state residents lack health insurance, nearly the smallest share in the country. Additionally, the typical household in the state earns $73,486 a year, about $17,700 more than the typical American household.

High incomes do not go as far in Hawaii as they would in other states, however. Goods and services cost about 17% more across the state than they do on average nationwide, the highest cost of living of any state. Real estate is especially expensive in Hawaii as the typical home is worth over half a million dollars. Despite a high cost of living, only about one in 10 Hawaiians live in poverty, one of lowest poverty rates in the country.

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8. Maryland
> 10-yr. population growth: 10.0% (23rd lowest)
> Oct. unemployment rate: 4.2% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.7% (2nd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.5 years (25th lowest)

A college education can lead to more opportunities, higher incomes, and better overall quality of life. In Maryland, nearly 39% of adults have earned a bachelor’s degree, one of the highest shares of any state. As is typically the case in regions with high educational attainment, incomes are high in Maryland. The statewide median household income of $75,847 a year is the highest in the country. High incomes partially explain the state’s 9.7% poverty rate, which is nearly the lowest of any state.

College-educated adults are often better equipped to make healthier lifestyle decisions and as a result typically have longer lifespans. Despite Maryland’s near nation-leading bachelor’s degree attainment rate, life expectancy at birth in the state is 78.5 years, exactly the same as the average life expectancy nationwide.

Vermont farm house
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7. Vermont
> 10-yr. population growth: 3.9% (5th lowest)
> Oct. unemployment rate: 3.3% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.2% (4th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years (12th highest)

The best states to live in usually have very healthy economies that drive the pace of population growth higher. However, this is not the case in New England states such as Vermont. With an unemployment rate of 3.3%, the eighth lowest, Vermont’s economy is certainly performing well. However, the small rural state’s population grew by just 3.9% over the past decade, the fifth slowest growth rate of all states.

The best states to live in do not necessarily have high homeownership rates, but Vermont residents are more likely than most to own their homes. More than 70% of housing units in the state are owned by their occupants, the sixth highest homeownership rate in the country.

In awe at Maroon Bells, Colorado
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6. Colorado
> 10-yr. population growth: 19.6% (5th highest)
> Oct. unemployment rate: 3.5% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.5% (14th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.6 years (10th highest)

Greater educational attainment is linked to higher incomes and more employment opportunities. In Colorado, 39.2% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the largest share in the country after only Massachusetts. Perhaps due to the state’s well-educated population, Colorado’s job market is healthier than most. The state’s 3.5% unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country and nearly 1.5 percentage points below the unemployment rate nationwide.

Long lifespans are often indicative of healthy lifestyles, and people living in Colorado tend to live longer than most Americans. Average life expectancy in the state is 79.6 years at birth, roughly a year longer than it is nationwide.