Although people often lump all the states together when they speak about the United States of America, American quality of life can vary widely depending upon the state in which one lives. Any American can point out the ways in which their region differs from the others in the nation, noting the distinct advantages and disadvantages of living in a specific state. Some residents may find a state more attractive because of its economic health and job prospects whereas other states are more appealing for their natural landscapes and higher education levels.
Now more than ever, it is crucial for Americans to decide what their personal priorities are, letting them move closer to selecting a state that checks off all the most important boxes on their wish list. While each of the 50 states arguably has its strong points, here is a look at a few states that are gaining popularity for a number of reasons.
Deep in the Economic Heart of Texas
Over the past decade or so, Texas has appeared on numerous lists of excellent places to move in the United States. The Lone Star State boasts many qualities that prospective residents find attractive. The relatively low cost of living, combined with decent job prospects and wages, make this state a stalwart competitor in the race to claim the title of the best state in the U.S. to live. Offering a variety of nice neighborhoods to suit people of all backgrounds and with a variety of interests, in addition to its mild weather, Texas triumphs on many accounts.
Nevada and Washington: Toward the Top of the List
It’s no coincidence that Nevada and Washington are listed as some of the top 10 states to which Americans are making their moves. For people who are concerned about their financial status and those who are trying to hang onto as many of their dollars as possible, these states offer the ultimate Holy Grail: no income tax. With a healthy median income of $42,190 that isn't taxed by the state, the people of Washington state can make their dollars stretch relatively far. In addition to the all-important economic benefit of no state income tax, the majority of the Silver State is known for its warm weather. Although the unemployment rate is relatively high, the impressive array of casinos in the state guarantees that there is always going to be at least some steady employers in Nevada.
The Goldilocks Factor: Why Oregon Is Winning the State Popularity Contest
The Great Recession changed the way Americans think about spending money, which is one of the many reasons why many U.S. citizens have been flocking to the state of Oregon. With a lush green landscape and no sales tax, Oregon boasts the winning combination of factors that are wildly popular with citizens who want to see how far they can stretch their dollars while maintaining an excellent quality of life.
How Retirement Affects State Popularity Levels
There is no doubt about the fact that America is now home to an aging population. With Baby Boomers now leaving the workforce and beginning to focus on retirement, states that boast favorable factors such as warm weather and good economic conditions are becoming more attractive to those who would like to retire. Because Baby Boomers are such a potent part of the American population, their choices are making a huge impact in the migration numbers.
Although many people have traditionally thought of Florida and California as top retirement locales, this is decidedly no longer the case. Chances are that retirees are more concerned about issues that impact safety, and Florida is unfortunately home to some of the most dangerous cities in the United States. Meanwhile, California's high cost of living is probably not too appealing to those who need to preserve their resources. The state of Hawaii, which boasts extraordinary weather but maintains an incredibly high cost of living, usually doesn't even enter into serious retirement conversations unless the retirees in question are extremely wealthy.
Savvy retirees have been looking to states like Virginia to spend their golden years. Featuring a low cost of living, a relatively low crime rate and mild weather, this state has a lot to offer to retirees. For those who still have family members engaged in the workforce, the fact that Virginia offers excellent support workers is yet another benefit. After factoring in the good working wages and low unemployment rates that Virginians enjoy, people who are planning out their retirement will undoubtedly move this state up to the top of their favorites list.
Although some may be surprised to see more wintry states such as South Dakota and Wyoming gracing the lists of popular states to retire to, the cultural shift in thinking about practical financial issues seems to have crept into the general consciousness of retirees. Both of these states provide significant advantages for those who are watching their wallets, and Americans of retirement age are definitely paying attention.
Surprise States That Deserve Your Attention
Experts urge Americans to deviate off the beaten path when seeking security and a decent employment outlook. Although North Dakota isn't usually one of the first states that people think of when pondering a move, the statistics certainly indicate that it should be. Boasting an extremely low unemployment rate and an oil boom that has brought a great deal of wealth to the region, there is a lot to love about North Dakota. There are very few, if any, other places in the country that have paid Walmart employees $17 an hour.
Those who prioritize nature will relish the idea of moving to a state such as Colorado or Utah, but these states have also become popular for other reasons. Like its close neighbor Wyoming, Colorado boasts a very healthy median income.
Why Wyoming Works
Although Wyoming has gained renown as a retirement haven, it is an exceptional place for Americans of all ages. Featuring a median income of $38,280 and a low cost of living, this aesthetically pleasing state can offer an excellent quality of life to single people and young families as well. For families that are paying attention to statistics such as the crime rate, Wyoming stacks up quite favorably. In 2014, for instance, this state reported the third-lowest violent crime rate per 100,000 people. For those who prioritize such matters above all else, the absolute safest state in the country is Vermont. However, many would argue that Wyoming possesses other features that make it a much more attractive option. The lack of state income tax will undoubtedly be seen as a favorable aspect to some who are considering a move to Wyoming, and others may be positively swayed by the low population.
Although many movies and television programs would probably have Americans believing that most people prefer city life, this is not always the case. Many younger Americans enjoy the slower pace of life and more personal environment that states like Wyoming can provide these days. Additionally, Wyoming happens to possess some of the most stunning scenery in the entire country. The home of Yellowstone National Park, this state boasts a beautiful history with many thanks to President Theodore Roosevelt.
What the Most Popular States Tell Us About Ourselves
The most popular states are a strong indicator of what values Americans are prioritizing right now, and it would seem that financial considerations have taken real precedence in the wake of the Great Recession. Americans, once the greatest spendthrifts in the world, tightened up their wallets in response to these economic hardships. As a result, the choice of state now reflects a more enlightened, mature financial outlook. Those who once loved the idea of moving to Hawaii are probably now more enthused about the idea of living in a state that allows them to work less and profit more, all while enjoying beautiful scenery and decent weather.
Solutions for finding the best state are not one-size-fits-all. Every American can make a customized decision based upon factors such as their financial situation, work prospects, threshold for taxation and educational opportunities for children. The states that manage to lead in more than a few of these areas, such as Wyoming and Virginia, are the ones that tend to receive recognition from news outlets.
Amid all of this inquiry, however, it is important to recognize when a state's popularity may be affecting those qualities that made it popular in the first place. For example, the cost of housing in Oregon has been increasing as much as its popularity has. Those who were looking forward to lower home prices may want to investigate other states before making the commitment to move to Oregon.