Special Report

Best State Capitals to Live In

America is a very diverse country, and proudly so. However, it’s also diverse when it comes to quality of life, and that’s less welcome. There are vast disparities in different aspects of life depending on where you live in the U.S., and state capitals are a good barometer. 

Being the seat of governments, these cities should reflect the government priorities in terms of the safety and well-being of residents. But life is very different in the 50 state capitals. To determine the state capitals that make the best homes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed an index compiled by WalletHub

In its “2022’s Best State Capitals for Safety & More,“ WalltHub scores all 50 state capitals based on their affordability, economic well-being, education and health, and quality of life. Each of these factors comprises several measures – for example cost of living in affordability, unemployment rate in economic well-being, graduation rates and vaccination rates in education and health, and walkability and crime in quality of life – that build an index. 

The top three state capitals are Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Madison, Wisconsin. It’s instructive to focus on median household income figures as an objective measure. It’s above $65,000 for all three cities and above $70,000 in Austin. 

By contrast, the bottom three cities are Trenton, New Jersey; Dover, Delaware; and Hartford, Connecticut. The median household income in Trenton is $35,000, or half that of Austin. 

Some general trends are apparent. The best state capitals typically have strong local and state economies. Austin and Raleigh are virtually boomtowns. Both are home to major educational institutions. Austin has a robust tech sector, while Raleigh is part of the Research Triangle. (These are America’s best cities to live.)

Trenton was once a major manufacturing center and was known for the slogan, “Trenton makes, the world takes.” Unfortunately, its economy was hollowed out by deindustrialization and flight to the suburbs. (This is the worst county to live in every state.)

Click here to see the best state capitals to live in


To determine the best state capitals for safety and more, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed an index compiled by WalletHub. Supplemental income and population data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. This data represents five-year averages from 2019, the most recent year for which data was available.

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