Special Report

All 50 States Ranked by Livability

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6. Minnesota
> Population change; 2010-2019: +6.2% (19th largest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 3.2% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.0% (4th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.9 years (4th longest)

Based on educational attainment, life expectancy, and the poverty rate, Minnesota ranks as the best Midwestern state to live in, and the sixth best state nationwide. At 80.9 years, life expectancy at birth in the state is nearly two years longer than the national average. Additionally, Minnesota is one of fewer than a dozen states in which fewer than one in every 10 residents live below the poverty line. Adults in Minnesota are also far more likely than the typical American adult to have a four-year college education.

Well-educated, financially secure areas are less likely than average to report high crime rates — and Minnesota is a relatively safe state. There were 236 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 state residents in 2019. For reference, the national violent crime rate was 367 incidents per 100,000 people that year.

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7. New Hampshire
> Population change; 2010-2019: +3.3% (18th smallest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 2.5% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 7.3% (the lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years (18th longest)

New Hampshire is one of three New England states to rank among the top 10 best states to live. This is largely due to the fact that just 7.3% of state residents live in poverty, the lowest share of any state and 5 percentage points below the U.S. poverty rate. The typical household in the state has an annual income of nearly $78,000, over $12,000 higher than the U.S. median household income.

Poverty rate and income levels are closely tied to educational attainment, and New Hampshire residents are among the most educated in the nation. The state ranks in the top 10 in both high school and college attainment rates, as 93.3% of New Hampshire adults 25 and older have a high school diploma and 37.6% have at least a bachelor’s degree.

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8. Maryland
> Population change; 2010-2019: +4.5% (23rd smallest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 3.6% (20th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.0% (4th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years (24th longest)

In Maryland, residents are far more likely to have high incomes and far less likely to live in poverty than the average American nationwide. The typical household in Maryland earns $86,738 a year, about $21,000 more than the typical U.S. household and more than the median income in every other state. Additionally, only 9.0% of the Maryland population lives below the poverty line, compared to 12.3% of Americans nationwide.

Incomes in the United States tend to rise with educational attainment. In Maryland, 40.9% of the 25 and older population have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 33.1% of the population in the same age group nationwide.

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9. Washington
> Population change; 2010-2019: +12.9% (9th largest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 4.3% (8th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.8% (9th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (9th longest)

Washington, along with Hawaii and Colorado, is one of three Western states to rank among the 10 best states to live. The state’s life expectancy at birth of 80.4 years is more than a full year longer than the U.S. life expectancy at birth of 79.1 years.

From 2010 to 2019, the U.S. population grew by 6.1%. During that same time, the population of Washington grew more than twice as fast, increasing from 6.7 million to 7.6 million, or a 12.9% growth.

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10. Virginia
> Population change; 2010-2019: +6.4% (18th largest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 2.8% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (11th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years (19th longest)

Virginia reports some of the best economic conditions of any state, making it one of the best places to live in the country. The typical Virginia household has an annual income of nearly $76,500, well above the U.S. median household income of $65,712. The state’s 2019 unemployment rate of 2.8% was one of the lowest in the country and well below the nation’s 3.7% unemployment rate that year. Virginia is one of 11 states in which fewer than 10% of residents live below the poverty line.

However, goods and services are typically more expensive in Virginia than they are nationwide by about 2.0%.