Special Report

Best State Capitals to Live In

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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

Methodology

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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50. Trenton, New Jersey
> Overall score: 37.19/100
> Affordability rank: 44th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 49th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 43rd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 35th out of 50
> Population: 83,412
> Median household income: $35,402

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49. Dover, Delaware
> Overall score: 40.15/100
> Affordability rank: 40th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 36th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 38th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 46th out of 50
> Population: 37,523
> Median household income: $47,669

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48. Hartford, Connecticut
> Overall score: 40.43/100
> Affordability rank: 48th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 46th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 25th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 23rd out of 50
> Population: 123,088
> Median household income: $36,278

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47. Jackson, Mississippi
> Overall score: 40.50/100
> Affordability rank: 23rd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 48th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 46th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 50th out of 50
> Population: 166,383
> Median household income: $38,888

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46. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
> Overall score: 41.20/100
> Affordability rank: 36th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 45th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 47th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 33rd out of 50
> Population: 224,149
> Median household income: $44,470

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45. Carson City, Nevada
> Overall score: 42.15/100
> Affordability rank: 37th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 16th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 48th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 48th out of 50
> Population: 54,773
> Median household income: $55,718

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44. Augusta, Maine
> Overall score: 42.36/100
> Affordability rank: 38th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 42nd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 24th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 42nd out of 50
> Population: 18,605
> Median household income: $43,796

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43. Montgomery, Alabama
> Overall score: 42.37/100
> Affordability rank: 17th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 43rd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 50th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 44th out of 50
> Population: 199,783
> Median household income: $48,011

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42. Little Rock, Arkansas
> Overall score: 43.40/100
> Affordability rank: 21st out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 28th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 40th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 49th out of 50
> Population: 197,958
> Median household income: $51,485

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41. Providence, Rhode Island
> Overall score: 43.65/100
> Affordability rank: 47th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 27th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 27th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 9th out of 50
> Population: 179,494
> Median household income: $45,610

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40. Charleston, West Virginia
> Overall score: 43.88/100
> Affordability rank: 28th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 34th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 34th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 45th out of 50
> Population: 48,006
> Median household income: $43,344

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39. Honolulu, Hawaii
> Overall score: 45.56/100
> Affordability rank: 50th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 20th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 5th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 2nd out of 50
> Population: 348,985
> Median household income: $71,465

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38. Lansing, Michigan
> Overall score: 45.57/100
> Affordability rank: 16th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 33rd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 45th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 36th out of 50
> Population: 117,159
> Median household income: $41,674

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37. Indianapolis, Indiana
> Overall score: 45.76/100
> Affordability rank: 24th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 31st out of 50
> Education and health rank: 41st out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 32nd out of 50
> Population: 864,447
> Median household income: $47,873

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36. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
> Overall score: 45.99/100
> Affordability rank: 30th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 47th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 42nd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 15th out of 50
> Population: 49,209
> Median household income: $39,685

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35. Richmond, Virginia
> Overall score: 46.01/100
> Affordability rank: 43rd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 29th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 49th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 4th out of 50
> Population: 226,622
> Median household income: $47,250

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34. Topeka, Kansas
> Overall score: 46.75/100
> Affordability rank: 13th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 32nd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 36th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 47th out of 50
> Population: 126,397
> Median household income: $47,999

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33. Frankfort, Kentucky
> Overall score: 47.28/100
> Affordability rank: 11th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 44th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 39th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 38th out of 50
> Population: 27,680
> Median household income: $50,211

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32. Tallahassee, Florida
> Overall score: 47.60/100
> Affordability rank: 41st out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 35th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 17th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 20th out of 50
> Population: 191,279
> Median household income: $45,734

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31. Pierre, South Dakota
> Overall score: 47.72/100
> Affordability rank: 10th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 50th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 31st out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 40th out of 50
> Population: 13,961
> Median household income: $62,192

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30. Albany, New York
> Overall score: 48.08/100
> Affordability rank: 45th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 38th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 15th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 5th out of 50
> Population: 97,478
> Median household income: $45,825

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29. Sacramento, California
> Overall score: 48.28/100
> Affordability rank: 46th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 12th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 22nd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 14th out of 50
> Population: 500,930
> Median household income: $62,335

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28. Jefferson City, Missouri
> Overall score: 48.31/100
> Affordability rank: 9th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 30th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 44th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 37th out of 50
> Population: 42,919
> Median household income: $52,253

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27. Springfield, Illinois
> Overall score: 48.69/100
> Affordability rank: 8th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 40th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 26th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 41st out of 50
> Population: 115,888
> Median household income: $54,648

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26. Juneau, Alaska
> Overall score: 48.72/100
> Affordability rank: 22nd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 26th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 18th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 39th out of 50
> Population: 32,227
> Median household income: $88,390

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25. Salem, Oregon
> Overall score: 49.28/100
> Affordability rank: 42nd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 6th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 21st out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 28th out of 50
> Population: 169,259
> Median household income: $55,920

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24. Columbia, South Carolina
> Overall score: 49.33/100
> Affordability rank: 25th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 41st out of 50
> Education and health rank: 29th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 16th out of 50
> Population: 133,273
> Median household income: $47,286

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23. Boston, Massachusetts
> Overall score: 49.79/100
> Affordability rank: 49th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 18th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 4th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 1st out of 50
> Population: 684,379
> Median household income: $71,115

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22. Cheyenne, Wyoming
> Overall score: 49.80/100
> Affordability rank: 5th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 23rd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 37th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 43rd out of 50
> Population: 63,607
> Median household income: $64,598

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21. Phoenix, Arizona
> Overall score: 50.81/100
> Affordability rank: 32nd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 3rd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 33rd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 26th out of 50
> Population: 1,633,017
> Median household income: $57,459

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20. Santa Fe, New Mexico
> Overall score: 51.00/100
> Affordability rank: 33rd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 25th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 19th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 19th out of 50
> Population: 83,922
> Median household income: $57,972

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19. Annapolis, Maryland
> Overall score: 51.25/100
> Affordability rank: 29th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 39th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 9th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 21st out of 50
> Population: 39,278
> Median household income: $85,636

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18. Montpelier, Vermont
> Overall score: 51.35/100
> Affordability rank: 31st out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 37th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 3rd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 24th out of 50
> Population: 7,477
> Median household income: $65,078

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17. St. Paul, Minnesota
> Overall score: 52.19/100
> Affordability rank: 34th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 22nd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 13th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 18th out of 50
> Population: 304,547
> Median household income: $57,876

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16. Olympia, Washington
> Overall score: 52.42/100
> Affordability rank: 35th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 15th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 11th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 17th out of 50
> Population: 51,534
> Median household income: $59,878

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15. Helena, Montana
> Overall score: 52.84/100
> Affordability rank: 15th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 19th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 16th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 30th out of 50
> Population: 32,024
> Median household income: $61,324

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14. Atlanta, Georgia
> Overall score: 53.20/100
> Affordability rank: 27th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 21st out of 50
> Education and health rank: 23rd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 7th out of 50
> Population: 488,800
> Median household income: $59,948

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13. Nashville, Tennessee
> Overall score: 53.62/100
> Affordability rank: 18th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 2nd out of 50
> Education and health rank: 30th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 27th out of 50
> Population: 663,750
> Median household income: $59,828

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12. Denver, Colorado
> Overall score: 53.62/100
> Affordability rank: 39th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 9th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 8th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 11th out of 50
> Population: 705,576
> Median household income: $68,592

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11. Des Moines, Iowa
> Overall score: 53.99/100
> Affordability rank: 3rd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 24th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 20th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 29th out of 50
> Population: 215,636
> Median household income: $53,525

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10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
> Overall score: 54.14/100
> Affordability rank: 1st out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 10th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 35th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 31st out of 50
> Population: 643,692
> Median household income: $55,557

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9. Bismarck, North Dakota
> Overall score: 54.28/100
> Affordability rank: 6th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 7th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 28th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 34th out of 50
> Population: 72,777
> Median household income: $64,444

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8. Columbus, Ohio
> Overall score: 55.75/100
> Affordability rank: 14th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 11th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 32nd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 13th out of 50
> Population: 878,553
> Median household income: $53,745

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7. Salt Lake City, Utah
> Overall score: 56.27/100
> Affordability rank: 26th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 5th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 12th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 10th out of 50
> Population: 197,756
> Median household income: $60,676

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6. Concord, New Hampshire
> Overall score: 56.49/100
> Affordability rank: 4th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 17th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 14th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 25th out of 50
> Population: 43,244
> Median household income: $66,719

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5. Lincoln, Nebraska
> Overall score: 58.17/100
> Affordability rank: 7th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 14th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 7th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 22nd out of 50
> Population: 283,839
> Median household income: $57,746

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4. Boise, Idaho
> Overall score: 58.37/100
> Affordability rank: 19th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 8th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 10th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 6th out of 50
> Population: 226,115
> Median household income: $60,035

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3. Madison, Wisconsin
> Overall score: 60.60/100
> Affordability rank: 20th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 13th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 1st out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 3rd out of 50
> Population: 254,977
> Median household income: $65,332

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2. Raleigh, North Carolina
> Overall score: 61.40/100
> Affordability rank: 2nd out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 4th out of 50
> Education and health rank: 6th out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 12th out of 50
> Population: 464,485
> Median household income: $67,266

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1. Austin, Texas
> Overall score: 63.75/100
> Affordability rank: 12th out of 50
> Economic well-being rank: 1st out of 50
> Education and health rank: 2nd out of 50
> Quality of life rank: 8th out of 50
> Population: 950,807
> Median household income: $71,576

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