The cost of living has a lot to do with how far your paychecks will go each month. To pinpoint which states are the worst for your money, GOBankingRates examined multiple factors, including crime rates, property and income taxes, unemployment and various cost-of-living metrics.
Sources ranged from NeighborhoodScout for crime data to ATTOM Data for property tax rates. The study also incorporated data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, U.S. Department of Agriculture and other trusted sources. Using these criteria, each state was analyzed across all factors to determine where your money might not stretch as far as in other states. Here are 10 worst states to live in for your money.
Hawaii holds the top spot for the worst state to live in for the money. Its overall cost of living is 79% higher than national average, with healthcare being 18% higher and groceries 25.6% higher.
Additionally, the state’s debt-to-income ratio is one of the highest out of all the U.S. states. On the positive side, it has the lowest average state property tax rate out of the 50 states and a lower violent crime rate than the majority of states.
Alaska has the second-highest violent crime rate in the nation. Overall, its cost of living is 24.4% higher than the national average, with groceries at 27.4% higher and healthcare at 49.8% higher. On the plus side, Alaska is a state that doesn’t collect income tax.
We know, the District of Columbia is not a state but rather a territory and the nation’s capital. However, its rankings across the board were poor enough to include it.
D.C. has the highest violent crime rate and property crime rate out of all 50 states. It also has the third-highest average state income tax rate. Its unemployment rate is the second highest in the U.S. at 5.74%. Finally, the cost of living is the second-highest in America at 48.7% above the national average.
California has the largest number of unemployed persons at 1.6 million and an unemployment rate that ranks in the top five in the nation. Additionally, its cost of living is 34.5% above the national average. The debt-to-income ratio in the Golden State is also relatively high compared to the majority of U.S. states.
Oregon is in the top five when it comes to highest property crime rates and in the top four for highest average state income tax rates. On the plus side, it does not rank in the top 10 for violent crime rates. Still, the cost of living there is 15% above the national average.
New Mexico is also in the top three for violent crime rates and the top four for property crime rates. It also has the third-highest poverty rate in the nation. Its overall cost of living isn’t quite as high as the national average, but its healthcare costs are just about equal at 99.6%.
Maryland has the second-highest average state income tax rate in the nation. Its cost of living is among the top 10 highest states in the nation, with grocery costs that are 8.5% higher than the national average. It also ties with Hawaii for the highest debt-to-income ratio in the U.S.
Louisiana is in the top five for highest violent crime rates and top six for highest property crime rates in the nation. It’s also in the top 10 for highest unemployment rates.
On the plus side, its cost of living rank is lower than the vast majority of the U.S. states. However, the poverty rate is the second-highest in the nation at 18.8%.
New York is in the top 10 for highest average state property tax rates, and ranks No. 1 for highest average state income tax rates in the nation. It also ranks third in the U.S. for its unemployment rate. The Empire State is also in the top five for highest cost of living, with an overall cost of living that’s 25% higher than the national average.
South Carolina ranks in the top 10 for both highest violent crime and property crime rates in the nation. It also ranks in the top 10 in the U.S. for highest debt-to-income ratio and poverty rate.
Methodology: To find the worst states to live in for your money, GOBankingRates used calculations across various factors to find the states that are cheapest, safest, and most likely to succeed for the average person. For each state, a number of factors were found including;  Violent and  Property Crime data sourced from NeighborhoodScout,  Average Property Tax for a median value home sourced from ATTOM Data,  Average Income Tax Rates sourced from US News and World Report,  Unemployment Rate sourced from the US Census American Community Survey,  Overall Cost of Living,  Healthcare Cost of Living,  Groceries Cost of Living sourced from Missouri Economic and Research Information Center,  Average Debt-to-Income Ratio sourced from the Federal Reserve Data Portal,  Poverty Rate sourced from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Data, and  FIPS Codes sourced from the Federal Communications Commission. Each state was analyzed across all the factors and organized into categories to score and sort the data. Factors  and  were scored, combined, and weighted as 1 in the total score. Factors  and  were scored, combined, and weighted as 1.25 in the total score. Factors  was scored and weighted as 1 in the total score. Factors , , and  were scored, combined, and weighted as 1.5 in the total score. Factors  and  were scored, combined, and weighted as 2 in the total score. The categories are scored and combined into their categories, then weighted for importance and combined to find a total score for each state. The total score was combined and sorted to show the states that are the worst for your money. All data was collected and is up-to-date as-of August 17th, 2023.
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