The Best and Worst States
By studying a map of the best and worst states to live a richer life, a couple trends are immediately clear: Worse states cluster in the West and South, while better states are in the Midwest and East.
In the West, high housing prices drive the states down in our ratings. In the South, it's low household incomes. In the Midwest and East, on the other hand, household incomes are relatively higher than in the South and housing prices are relatively lower than in the West.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed all 50 states, analyzing 12 data points that served as determining factors in the ranking: (1) median household income, sourced from the Census Bureau in 2015 dollars; (2) May 2017 unemployment rates, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; (3) median home listing prices as of May 2017, sourced from Zillow; (4) mean effective state property tax (referred to as "property tax"), sourced from the Tax Foundation; (5) state sales tax rates in 2017, sourced from the Tax Foundation; (6) grocery costs, sourced from Missouri Economic Research and Information Center; (7) annual child care costs for an infant and a 4-year-old, sourced from Child Care Aware of America; (8) school district grades, sourced from Education Week; (9) average family health insurance premiums, sourced from Kaiser Family Foundation; (10) employer health insurance contributions, sourced from Kaiser Family Foundation; (11) annual violent crimes per 1,000 residents, sourced from NeighborhoodScout.com; (12) annual property crimes per 1,000 residents, sourced from NeighborhoodScout.com. Household income and home list prices were weighted double in our analysis.