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Louisiana
50
New Mexico
49
Mississippi
48
Arkansas
47
West Virginia
46
Alaska
45
Alabama
44
Oklahoma
43
Michigan
42
South Carolina
41
Pennsylvania
40
Kentucky
39
Illinois
38
California
37
Ohio
36
Missouri
35
Hawaii
34
Nevada
33
Arizona
32
Oregon
31
Indiana
30
Texas
29
Maine
28
Tennessee
27
Rhode Island
26
Kansas
25
Montana
24
New York
23
Maryland
22
Delaware
21
Connecticut
20
North Carolina
19
Georgia
18
Wisconsin
17
Colorado
16
North Dakota
15
New Jersey
14
Virginia
13
Wyoming
12
South Dakota
11
Massachusetts
10
Florida
9
Washington
8
Vermont
7
Iowa
6
Idaho
5
Minnesota
4
Nebraska
3
New Hampshire
2
Utah
1

Best States to Live in 2024

Best States to Live in 2024

Defining the Best States to Live in

According to the World Health Organization, quality of life refers to the level to which a person can obtain their needs, meet their goals and address their concerns. An individual's well-being is determined by not only material conditions, such as housing and income, but also more abstract concerns such as health, education, and security. Measuring these metrics across large populations helps researchers and policymakers understand how well programs and governments serve their residents.

The US News and World Report Best States Rankings

Most years, the United States ranks in the mid-to-low 20s in the world rankings for quality of life metrics, outperforming most countries. However, programs and policies make for vastly different qualities of life across the various states. US News and World Report (USNAWR) publishes its "Best State Rankings" report annually to measure the quality of life in individual states. The best states to live in are those which best attend to the needs of their people and enable them to live their best lives.

The USNAWR Best State Rankings measure a wide range of metrics (71 in 2024) across eight categories: healthcare, education, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and the natural environment. Further explanation of each category is provided below.

  • Healthcare measures how well people can access quality healthcare. It also looks at the public's general health, including metrics like obesity rates, the prevalence of smoking, and levels of exercise and activity.
  • Education measures how well public schools perform in terms of testing and graduation rates and tuition costs associated with higher education and college debt load.
  • Economy has to do with economic potential, including metrics like job growth, population growth, and how frequently new businesses open.
  • Infrastructure includes transportation availability, road quality, communications, and internet access.
  • Opportunity includes the cost of living, housing costs and gender and racial equality.
  • Fiscal Stability considers the health of the government's finances, including how well the state balances its budget.

When it comes to the best states in the United States, competition is fierce. The top-performing states tend to shift from year to year as progress is made in some areas and lost in others. The situation is quite different from the country's worst states, as the worst states to live in have remained mostly the same since 2017.

The Top Ten Best States to Live in (US News and World Report Best States Rankings - Current Year)

Profiles of the Best States to Live In

Although the precise order varies from year to year, a handful of states seem to rank near the top of the best state to live in list every year. Here, in alphabetical order, are mini-profiles of several of those front-running states.

Florida (#10 overall in 2022, #9 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 25
  • Education: 3
  • Economy: 8
  • Infrastructure: 20
  • Opportunity: 33
  • Fiscal Stability: 7
  • Crime & Corrections: 26
  • Natural Environment: 18

Florida has seen consistent gains in the rankings, having placed 24th in 2017, 13th in 2019, and 10th in 2022.

While Florida's K-12 Public schools perform about on par with national averages, the state's higher education system often ranks first in the nation for access and affordability. There are no Ivy League schools in Florida, but the state has a vast network of colleges and universities serving hundreds of thousands of students each year. In the 2022 rankings, Florida led the nation in offering low-cost schooling with high graduating rates and low post-school debt loads.

Florida's economy is also one of the strongest in the nation. In 2021, Florida's GDP was over $1.1 trillion. If it were a country, Florida would have been the fifteenth-wealthiest nation in the world in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state added over 500,000 jobs in 2021, a 6% increase overall, which ranked second in the nation for population growth.

Idaho (#5 overall in 2022, #5 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 24
  • Education: 29
  • Economy: 3
  • Infrastructure: 10
  • Opportunity: 24
  • Fiscal Stability: 4
  • Crime & Corrections: 10
  • Natural Environment: 12

Idaho has made a huge jump from its 32nd-place ranking in 2017. The state has especially benefited from its recent economic boom. In 2022, Idaho had the fastest-growing economy in the nation and the nation's second-highest 5-year GDP growth rate at 17%. The unemployment rate sat at 2.8%, significantly lower than the national average.

Beyond reaping the benefits of the recent economic boom, Idaho has also enjoyed a high level of short- and long-term financial stability. Barron's rated Idaho number one state in the nation for creditworthiness, which may be in large part due to the state's budget, which ended 2021 with a $1.6 billion surplus.

Massachusetts (#9 overall in 2022, #10 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 2
  • Education: 2
  • Economy: 5
  • Infrastructure: 42
  • Opportunity: 36
  • Fiscal Stability: 43
  • Crime & Corrections: 4
  • Natural Environment: 4

Massachusetts has seen success in healthcare and education, though its infrastructure ranks among the lowest in the nation.

Massachusetts often leads the country in education. The state has some of the nation's best scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) across all grade bands and subjects. It also has one of the highest college graduation attainment rates in the nation and is home to several leading universities, including Harvard, MIT, and Boston College.

Healthcare in Massachusetts is also among the best in the nation, ranking first in access to care, with the greatest number of providers per capita for both primary care and mental health. The state's residents also have a high level of insurance coverage, with only 3% of the populace reporting they do not have insurance. Massachusetts also does well across lifestyle metrics, with some of the lowest levels of obesity and tobacco use in the country.

Infrastructure in Massachusetts, however, ranks among the worst in the nation. A 2021 report determined that a quarter of Massachusetts' roads were in poor condition, nine percent of its bridges were structurally deficient, and 328 of its dams had high-hazard potential. Lead exposure risk is also among the worst in the nation.

Minnesota (#2 overall in 2022, #4 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 16
  • Education: 17
  • Economy: 15
  • Infrastructure: 9
  • Opportunity: 2
  • Fiscal Stability: 21
  • Crime & Corrections: 15
  • Natural Environment: 10

Minnesota ranks high for opportunity metrics. The state has one of the lowest poverty levels in the country, with nine percent of residents living at or below the poverty line in 2021. Minnesota also has one of the lowest levels of unemployment and food insecurity and one of the country's highest levels of homeownership. However, while income inequality is low, Minnesota ranks low for racial disparity in homeownership.

Wallethub ranked Minnesota the third-best state to raise a family in 2024, citing the high median family salary and low levels of separation and divorce. The state provides excellent early-education opportunities and ranks high for K-12 performance. Higher education, however, is expensive, and the state's poverty gap is one of the widest in the country.

Nebraska (#6 overall in 2022, #3 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 28
  • Education: 9
  • Economy: 20
  • Infrastructure: 6
  • Opportunity: 10
  • Fiscal Stability: 17
  • Crime & Corrections: 31
  • Natural Environment: 6

Nebraska's infrastructure is among the strongest in the nation. The state has one of the highest levels of renewable energy use (21% of its energy came from renewable sources in 2022). The state's roads are relatively well maintained, with 11% needing repair as of 2022. High-speed internet access is also widely available, with 90% of residents having access.

Nebraska also scores high in the natural environment category. Nebraska has among the most stringent non-smoking regulations and some of the best air quality ratings in the nation. However, the state's water quality is negatively impacted by the state's high level of agricultural activity, with concerns about herbicide runoff into the groundwater.

New Hampshire (#4 Overall in 2022, #2 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 13
  • Education: 13
  • Economy: 11
  • Infrastructure: 34
  • Opportunity: 3
  • Fiscal Stability: 33
  • Crime & Corrections: 1
  • Natural Environment: 2

New Hampshire is no stranger to being in the top five states, as it has been every year since 2017.

New Hampshire has one of the country's lowest incarceration rates, with 197 out of 100,000 individuals imprisoned, significantly lower than the national average of 359 per 100,000 in 2019. Violent crime in New Hampshire is among the lowest in the nation. The average rate of property crime in the United States is twice that of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire also has some of the highest air quality in the country. While the nation's average was 104 unhealthy air quality days annually in 2022, New Hampshire experienced just 14 days of poor air quality a year. The state also produces industrial toxins at a much lower rate than the rest of the country. Furthermore, New Hampshire has some of the nation's most stringent climate change policies and one of the highest rates of renewable energy consumption.

Utah (#3 overall in 2022, #1 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 11
  • Education: 10
  • Economy: 1
  • Infrastructure: 5
  • Opportunity: 30
  • Fiscal Stability: 5
  • Crime & Corrections: 8
  • Natural Environment: 47

Utah ranks high most every year, thanks in large part to its economy and the healthy lifestyle habits of its populace.

Utah's 2.1% unemployment rate tied with Nebraska's for the lowest in the nation in 2021, and the state led the country with a job growth rate of 3.6%, with gains are primarily in the trade, transportation, utilities, professional and business services sectors, and construction and manufacturing.

The state frequently leads the nation in several other metrics as well, including income equality, volunteerism, and activity levels. The state also has the lowest levels of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Virginia (#7 overall in 2022, 13th in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 12
  • Education: 12
  • Economy: 13
  • Infrastructure: 39
  • Opportunity: 8
  • Fiscal Stability: 18
  • Crime & Corrections: 9
  • Natural Environment: 19

Virginia's economy is a powerhouse, consistently ranking among the top states for business. CNBC named Virginia the best state for business in 2021, when the state's unemployment rate sat at 4.1%, slightly better than the national average, and only 9.8% of residents fell at or below the poverty line. Moreover, only 8.5% of residents experienced food insecurity, making it the eighth most food-secure state in the country.

Crime is also low in Virginia, with property and violent crime rates significantly lower than the national average. The state's incarceration rates are higher than the country as a whole, with 422 out of 100,000 individuals imprisoned in the state in 2019.

Washington (#1 overall in 2022, #8 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 8
  • Education: 4
  • Economy: 47
  • Infrastructure: 3
  • Opportunity: 25
  • Fiscal Stability: 6
  • Crime & Corrections: 19
  • Natural Environment: 15

Washington ranked as the best state to live in from 2019 to 2022, and continues to rank near the top of the list. Washington leads the country in renewable energy levels, with nearly half of its energy coming from renewable sources. Hydroelectric and wind power make up the bulk of the state's renewable power.

Washington also has one of the nation's lowest levels of premature death and a life expectancy of 80 years. The state's long lifespan is often attributed to the healthy habits of its people, who are among the best-rested and most active in the country.

Wisconsin (#8 overall in 2022, #17 in 2024)

2022 stats:

  • Healthcare: 15
  • Education: 8
  • Economy: 26
  • Infrastructure: 24
  • Opportunity: 9
  • Fiscal Stability: 9
  • Crime & Corrections: 25
  • Natural Environment: 17

Wisconsin's biggest strength is its educational system and the opportunities that education affords Wisconsinites.

Wisconsin's schools outperform the nation in high school graduation rates, with 90% of students graduating high school (compared to the national average of 85%). Wisconsin also outperforms the nation in fourth-grade NAEP scores.

The cost of living in Wisconsin is lower than the national average, with a cost of living index of 93.5. ONly 10% of Wisconsin residents were at or below the poverty rate in 2022, which was lower than the national average of 12%. Income inequality is low in Wisconsin, though the racial disparity in homeownership is more prevalent in Wisconsin than in most other states.

Alternate Best States to Live In Rankings

While the annual USNAWR report is arguably the most publicized, it is not the only available ranking of the best states to live in. For example, the education site Scholaroo did its own analysis in 2023, based upon a similar-but-distinct selection of 76 metrics spread across eight main categories:

  • Affordability
  • Crime & Safety
  • Economy
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Infrastructure
  • Opportunity
  • Quality of Life

The Top Ten Best States to Live in (Scholaroo Rankings, 2023)

RankState
1Wyoming
2Vermont
3South Dakota
4New Hampshire
5Massachusetts
6North Dakota
7New Jersey
8Maine
9Florida
10Washington

Best States to Live in 2024

  • The annual US News and World Report Best State Rankings evaluate wide range of indicators (71 in 2024) to rank each state in 8 categories: Crime & Corrections, Economy, Education, Fiscal Stability, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Opportunity, and Natural Environment.
  • Similarly to the US News rankings, Scholaroo statistically evaluates the best states to live in by comparing relevant indicators (76 in 2023) across 8 factors: Affordability, Crime & Safety, Economy, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Opportunity, and Quality of Life.
  • Note: While the "best state to live in" rankings are rooted in objective statistical data, the importance of each specific indicator is highly subjective often influenced by personal taste. As such, one's personal rankings may differ from those shown.

Download Table Data

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State
Overall Best - US News 2024
Crime & Correction - USN '24
Economy - USN '24
Education - USN '24
Environment - USN '24
Fiscal Stability - USN '24
Health Care - USN '24
Infrastructure - USN '24
Opportunity - USN '24
Overall Best - Scholaroo 2023
Affordability - Scol '23
Crime & Safety - Scol '23
Economy - Scol '23
Education - Scol '23
Healthcare - Scol '23
Infrastructure - Scol '23
Opportunity - Scol '23
Quality of Life - Scol '23
Louisiana50504947494146494450395048484941419
New Mexico494845503233384436451849494520452942
Mississippi482550352045504835492139503848434544
Arkansas474940383527474229443448372444462038
West Virginia46214848391848501639710393036504846
Alaska45444646442127462132112936462272714
Alabama442832454719443631463334454146302850
Oklahoma433623493826491726473543293150423140
Michigan423828413032294127331515473725363419
South Carolina41432242192830374243384512434332541
Pennsylvania40164139374411432413914352011273820
Kentucky39847342843402417361321462647282148
Illinois381543163650282540372932382318225026
California3734342333426325048493641472131463
Ohio36333927411735302024422432534341635
Missouri354525301710453415402541341842472343
Hawaii34104232146147413850284044237441
Nevada33405374831346323010352849354318
Arizona323010444230201834423230215030162221
Oregon314633401822232383443423036129425
Indiana3019292550254123926620313441141733
Texas29416294583119482883815324529832
Maine2823543253419402828425141449258
Tennessee274212313454221222733722353882430
Rhode Island26718363475453323401342199253310
Kansas2529271940403657413744331133234045
Montana243592231373227818222631628481134
New York23244412523829491947844106153212
Maryland22183120629733302144171822823023
Delaware21322133434926131426315211613713
Connecticut206178214932847124592433444711
North Carolina19231121231124312329193314393926727
Georgia18201526141333142535364016424051025
Wisconsin1731306271522355251411321519354924
Colorado164745263612123931464682715101817
North Dakota1526382812237166527473120431
New Jersey14524424484164374151921311397
Virginia1311161016241538281130720171733515
Wyoming12273772213913411161133733136
South Dakota113713154164381132231742739239
Massachusetts10483739239465486261412196
Florida91311132026204592419740236144
Washington83914131114107371023471129521152
Vermont73202410351711121632761181222
Iowa614361115122110317171223824384329
Idaho512218299181514202022333240949
Minnesota42226172716912224224131210243616
Nebraska317191493254191531189529192647
New Hampshire217983813221041211097171337
Utah1932466143181627256282613628
showing: 50 rows

Sources