The US Capitol Building in Washington DC.

The 10 Best States To Live In

7-Minute Read
Published on September 12, 2022
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It would take one month of continuous travel to drive through every state in the continental U.S. If you’re searching for a new place to call home, save yourself the time (and gas) by reading on. We’ve compiled some of the best states to live in based on affordability, job markets and what there is to do.

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The Top 10 States To Live In The US

Each state has its own unique lifestyle and what’s best for some may not be best for you. These rankings are based primarily on economic factors that can make for comfortable living, so don’t be discouraged if your dream location isn’t listed.

1. Washington

A large lake near a mountain in Washington.
  • Population: 8 million
  • Median household income: $77,006
  • Median home price: $654,500
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $1,519
  • Unemployment rate: 7%
  • Average commute: 1 minutes

Washington has a lot more to offer than rain and good coffee. The Evergreen state is home to multiple tech giants, like Microsoft and Amazon, with an equally impressive roster in health care, agriculture and transportation. If a thriving job market is high on your list of priorities, you’ll probably be happy in the Greater Seattle area with all its major employers.

Washington also offers coastal views of the Pacific Northwest and boasts three national parks. Homeowners with a knack for the outdoors are sure to feel at home fishing, kayaking or hiking in any of Washington’s many recreational areas.

Another bonus? Washington is one of seven states with no personal state income tax.

2. Utah

Rock formations in Bruce Canyon National Park in Utah.
  • Population: 3 million
  • Median household income: $74,197
  • Median home price: $458,900
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $1,139
  • Unemployment rate: 0%
  • Average commute: 6 minutes

Calling all film buffs: you may want to move out West – and no, we’re not talking about California. Utah’s desert landscapes have been the backdrop for iconic movies like “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Footloose,” while also hosting the prestigious Sundance Film Festival each year.

Utah’s Zion National Park is also one of the most visited sites in the U.S. with over 5 million visitors in 2021. Scenery aside, Utah has also been recognized as the 11th most educated state in the U.S., and the Beehive State’s violent crime rate is 35% lower than the national average.

3. Minnesota

Superior National Forest on Caribou Lake in Minnesota.
  • Population: 7 million
  • Median household income: $73,382
  • Median home price: $300,100
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $1,150
  • Unemployment rate: 8%
  • Average commute: 4 minutes

Despite chilly temperatures, the land of 10,000 lakes is frequently heralded as one of the best states to live in America. With 90,000 miles of shoreline and Midwestern friendliness, it’s no surprise that Minnesota has been ranked second best in quality of life.

Minnesotan companies have also graced the Fortune 500 list year after year, with Target and Best Buy ranking in 2022’s top 100.

4. New Hampshire

Buildings along a river in Exeter, New Hampshire.
  • Population: 3 million
  • Median household income: $77,923
  • Median home price: $395,000
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $1,310
  • Unemployment rate: 0%
  • Average commute:2 minutes

The best things come in small packages and New Hampshire is no exception. Like Washington, New Hampshire doesn’t have personal income taxes – with the exception of interest or dividend income. This fun-sized state has also been ranked 8th in U.S. News 2022 “Best States for Gender Equality” study.

New Hampshire is also home to some of the nation’s most prestigious schools, like Dartmouth and Philips Exeter Academy. Whether you choose to go with private or public schooling, you’ll find high-quality educational curriculums.

5. Idaho

A pasture with a rustic fence in sunset in Idaho.
  • Population: 9 million
  • Median household income: $58,915
  • Median home price: $498,000
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $979
  • Unemployment rate: 6%
  • Average commute:6 minutes 

When you think of Idaho you might also think of potatoes, and for good reason. 15% of Idaho’s workforce is in agriculture or an agriculture-connected field. That’s not to say however, that the job market is lacking. In fact, state capital Boise is homebase to HP, Micron and a growing number of start-ups and tech companies.

U.S. News has also ranked Idaho #3 in economy and #4 in fiscal stability. But if affordability and a plentiful job market aren’t enough, the beautiful Twin Falls is sure to do the trick.

6. Nebraska

Aerial view panorama of Lincoln in Nebraska.
  • Population: 9 million
  • Median household income: $63,015
  • Median home price: $285,600
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $876
  • Unemployment rate: 0%
  • Average commute:4 minutes

This Great Plains state is one of the less-populated on our list, which can be a real plus. Breathe in the fresh air that claimed the Cornhusker state 6th place in air quality or enjoy the lack of light pollution by stargazing at one of its many reservations or parks.

Nebraska’s high school graduation rate is also higher than the national average at 88% and it’s been ranked #9 in education by U.S. News.

Whether you want a quaint, small-town experience like fruit picking or hitting a local farmer’s market, or you want bigger adventures like a hot air balloon festival and live music, this corn-y state has got you covered.

7. Virginia

A market square in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Population: 6 million
  • Median household income: $76,398
  • Median home price: $365,000
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $1,293
  • Unemployment rate: 7%
  • Average commute:2 minutes

More U.S. presidents were born in Virginia than any other state, with many of the historic homes open for tours. History buffs can also visit Arlington National Cemetery or immerse themselves in the past at Colonial Williamsburg or the Jamestown Settlement museums.

Not your thing? Spend some time at the oceanfront Virginia Beach or explore the Luray Caverns – one of America’s largest commercial cave systems. U.S. News has also ranked Virginia the 7th best state to live in overall, placing 8th in Opportunity, which examines factors like gender equality and class disparities.

8. Wisconsin

Aerial view of Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Population: 8 million
  • Median household income: $63,293
  • Median home price: $280,000
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $947
  • Unemployment rate: 0%
  • Average commute: 22 minutes

Bordering two of the Great Lakes, the Badger State can be a great fit for anyone who enjoys swimming, boating or coastal views. Like most Midwest states, you’re likely to experience all four seasons throughout the year, from powdery snow to warm sunshine.

Since their Super Bowl victory in 2011, the Green Bay Packers have attracted national attention, making a home game at Lambeau Field a must for sports fans. Wisconsin also offers plenty of delicacies for the foodie in all of us. Whether you’re a craft beer aficionado or just want to try a cheese curd, America’s Dairyland is sure to please.

Affordability is another big plus, with Wisconsin’s median home price of $280,000 far below that of the nation’s $440,300.

9. Massachusetts

Boston Harbor in Massachusetts at night.
  • Population: 9 million
  • Median household income: $84,385
  • Median home price: $560,000
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $1,790
  • Unemployment rate: 5%
  • Average commute:3 minutes

Of all our rankings, Massachusetts really takes the cake when it comes to sports culture, in large part due to its state capital, Boston. Even non-locals tend to have thoughts on the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots or Bruins. Be warned, Boston sports fans can be very passionate about their rivalries, especially those from New York!

Next to sports, the Bay State is best known for its impressive educational institutions, like MIT and Harvard University. Like these schools, living in Massachusetts can be on the pricier side. But with beautiful destinations like Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, it could be well worth it.

10. Florida

A street lined with palm trees in Clearwater Beach in Florida.
  • Population: 7 million
  • Median household income: $57,703
  • Median home price: $412,303
  • Median monthly rent (2 bedroom): $1,350
  • Unemployment rate: 7%
  • Average commute: 27 minutes

With over 8,000 miles of coastline, thrilling theme parks and, of course, year-round sunshine, Florida remains one of America’s most popular states to settle down in. Although it’s densely populated, some of Florida’s largest cities – like Tampa, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale – have all earned perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2022 Municipal Equality Index, which evaluates equality and diversity across U.S. cities.

Florida is also one of the few U.S. states that has no state income tax and is home to 16 Fortune 500-ranked companies with a bustling economy and job market.

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How To Find The Best State To Live In For Your Needs

If you’re looking for a new place to call home you'll be met with an overwhelming amount of choices. Evaluating your priorities and preferences is a good place to start and can help you filter out places that may not work for you.

Here are some factors to consider that can help you choose the right place to settle down:

  • Weather: Climate will affect your day-to-day wherever you go, so consider what life will really look like. Are you comfortable driving in snow? Are you ready for sunny winter holidays? You should also consider region-specific hazards, like hurricanes, flooding or earthquakes, as you may be required to get insurance coverage down the road.
  • Cost of living: How affordable a state is goes beyond the housing market. Research utility, grocery and transportation costs. These necessities vary from state to state and even among counties, so awareness is key.
  • Activities: Whether you prefer lively nightlife or relaxing with friends or family should play a role in what area you choose to live. Visualize yourself in rural, metropolitan and suburban settings and figure out which is the best fit.
  • Job market: It doesn’t matter if you’re a young professional or a seasoned expert, you’ll want to make sure the place you’re living has a low unemployment rate. If you work remotely, make sure the areas you’re considering have high-speed internet access for effective online meetings and other responsibilities.

The Bottom Line

The best states to live in the U.S. may not be the most talked about, but they offer comforts in the form of affordability, reliable economies and opportunities for career growth. Just keep in mind that the best place to live really depends on your needs and vision for the future. So long as you do your research, you’re sure to make an informed decision.

Feel ready to begin your move to a new state? Start the mortgage application process online.

Apply for a mortgage today!

Apply online for expert recommendations with real interest rates and payments.

Start Your Application

Statistic Sources

Statistics for each city were pulled from reliable original and external sources. These are accurate as of August 29, 2022.

Population

Median Household Income

All median household incomes sourced from WorldPopulationReview.com.

Median Home Price

Median Monthly Rent

All median monthly rents sourced from BestPlaces.net.

Unemployment Rate

All unemployment rates sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average Commute

All average commute times sourced from BestPlaces.net.

 

Holly

Holly Shuffett

Holly Shuffett is a staff writer who writes with a focus on homeownership and personal finance. She has a B.A. in public relations from Oakland University and enjoys creative writing and reading in her free time.