Having a rich family life doesn't just mean wealth, it means having a high quality life across the board - income, job security, a safe home, affordable living and good education. Some states make it easier for families to "have it all," while others are more challenging. But which ones?
GoBankingRates researched every state and the District of Columbia and evaluated them by 12 factors. While there is no "one size fits all" for what makes a state the best fit for a family, these are the places that provide the best, and worst, opportunities to live a rich life without draining the bank account.
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Adapted from a gallery on GoBankingRates.com
Jobs and Income Score: 87
Housing Score: 42
Lifestyle Score: 83
Healthcare Score: 39
Safety Score: 69
The No. 1 best state for families to live a richer life is New Hampshire, which has a lot going for it. Parents will enjoy the state’s low crime rates, highly rated schools and low child care costs. Groceries aren’t the cheapest, ranking sixth highest, but New Hampshire’s zero sales tax helps put the state in first place for lifestyle.
The main drawback to New Hampshire is its 2.15 percent average property tax, the third highest nationwide. Still, New Hampshire takes first place for jobs and income. Its unemployment rate is the second lowest in the nation, behind only South Dakota, while the state also posts the eighth-highest median income.
Jobs and Income Score: 67
Housing Score: 69
Lifestyle Score: 61
Healthcare Score: 68
Safety Score: 67
North Dakota doesn’t rank No. 1 in any category or data point, but when factors are taken altogether, the state finishes No. 2 on the list. North Dakota ranks in the top 10 for its healthcare and jobs and income scores. The state also has the country’s fourth-lowest unemployment rate.
Jobs and Income Score: 61
Housing Score: 79
Lifestyle Score: 71
Healthcare Score: 57
Safety Score: 55
Taxes in Delaware can really help a family save money, especially considering it has the fourth-lowest average property tax in the U.S. and zero sales tax. In healthcare, Delaware doesn't fare so well with providing cheap premiums, but employer contribution to health insurance, 76 percent, is on the higher end compared to most states.
Though the state's safety score isn't the best, Delaware has enough benefits to be the third-best state for families to live a richer life.
Jobs and Income Score: 42
Housing Score: 70
Lifestyle Score: 73
Healthcare Score: 61
Safety Score: 62
Montana can't outdo Wyoming's low average property tax, but the Big Sky State beats it elsewhere. Families in Montana can reap the financial benefit of zero sales tax. In terms of healthcare, they get access to the nation's fifth-lowest family insurance premiums.
Jobs and Income Score: 40
Housing Score: 81
Healthcare Score: 59
Wyoming takes No. 5, largely thanks to strong scores in lifestyle and safety categories. In Wyoming, families can send their children to high-quality schools, while at the same time, take advantage of the state's affordable child care costs.
Wyoming also provides a safe environment for families. The state has low property crime rates as well as the country's third-lowest number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents. And just to give families a little more help, Wyoming has the seventh-lowest property tax.
Jobs and Income Score: 66
Housing Score: 68
Lifestyle Score: 62
Healthcare Score: 47
Safety Score: 70
South Dakota squeaks by Virginia to take sixth place among the best states for families. South Dakota families can get access to the nation's third-lowest child care costs.
The biggest asset to families is South Dakota's 2.7 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in the U.S. The state also offers the sixth-lowest property crime rates and an overall safety score that ranks third best in the nation.
Jobs and Income Score: 74
Housing Score: 71
Lifestyle Score: 64
Healthcare Score: 33
Virginia has great numbers when it comes to factors that benefit families. Virginia's school district grade is among the best 15 states, and grocery costs are the ninth cheapest.
In terms of jobs and income, Virginia's unemployment rate is a stellar 3.7 percent, and its median household income is $64,792. Though the state comes up short on employer contribution to insurance, at 68 percent, Virginia makes up for this with low crime rates.
Jobs and Income Score: 39
Housing Score: 90
Lifestyle Score: 55
Healthcare Score: 81
Safety Score: 50
Arkansas doesn't boast a great jobs and income score, nor does it have a stellar school district score. But Arkansas still has plenty to offer families and their wallets.
You can find the nation's fourth-lowest median home list price in Arkansas. On top of that, its 0.62 percent property tax is lower than most other states.
Jobs and Income Score: 49
Housing Score: 78
Lifestyle Score: 53
Healthcare Score: 56
Idaho matches Colorado’s 3.7 percent unemployment rate and then offers families a little more. Thanks to cheaper home prices than Colorado, Idaho scores better in housing.
Cost of living in Idaho is favorable to families. Grocery expenses are the third lowest in the country, and child care costs are affordable as well. Plus, Idaho boasts the third-lowest average health insurance premium, not to mention one of the best safety scores to boot, behind only three other states.
Housing Score: 66
Lifestyle Score: 60
Healthcare Score: 54
Safety Score: 61
Starting off the top 10 best states to live in is Colorado, which offers families the seventh-lowest property taxes and the second-lowest sales tax rate. The unemployment rate, 3.7 percent, is one of the lowest in the nation, and Colorado's median household income beats out most other states.
Jobs and Income Score: 14
Lifestyle Score: 52
Healthcare Score: 53
Safety Score: 47
Housing can be a benefit to New Mexico families, though other factors drag the state down toward the bottom of the list. With the eighth-best housing score, New Mexico features the 10th-lowest property tax.
New Mexico’s job and income score, however, is the third worst in the nation, tied with Louisiana. The state has the seventh-lowest median household income and the country's third-highest unemployment rate, alongside Louisiana and Illinois. The state’s poor safety score might repel families too, considering New Mexico features violent crime and property crime rates that are higher than roughly 90 percent of the U.S.
Jobs and Income Score: 36
Healthcare Score: 35
Safety Score: 49
Like Connecticut, Florida suffers from one of the worst healthcare scores on this list, tied for the worst state in terms of employer contribution to health insurance. Florida's safety score doesn't help its case, with both violent crime and property crime rates ranking among the highest in the country. Housing prices and property taxes aren’t too bad, but Florida’s median household income is less than three-quarters of the U.S, at $47,212.
Housing Score: 51
Healthcare Score: 48
Safety Score: 66
Rhode Island, like Texas, has a few bright spots, but ultimately isn’t one of the best states for families to live a richer life. Home prices are a bit above average — the 16th highest — and you'll get hit with one of the highest property tax rates around.
Rhode Island scores well for education, but expensive child care and the nation’s second-highest sales tax, 7 percent, undermines the state’s lifestyle score. And while crime rates are low, Rhode Island suffers from the ninth-highest unemployment rate and one of the lowest healthcare scores.
Jobs and Income Score: 46
Housing Score: 49
Healthcare Score: 31
Texas has a lot of positives and some notable negatives when it comes to living a richer life with a family. On the positive side, Texas has a moderate unemployment rate of 4.5 percent and the second-cheapest cost of groceries. Its child care expenses aren’t too bad either, at $15,489 annually.
Despite these positives, Texas ranks among the worst states for its lifestyle and housing scores, while its healthcare score is the worst in the nation. The high average property tax in Texas will impact your wallet, and poor marks for schooling could harm your children’s education.
Jobs and Income Score: 41
Housing Score: 62
Lifestyle Score: 47
Healthcare Score: 50
Safety Score: 45
Washington doesn’t provide the best setting for families to live a richer life due to a number of reasons. The state’s housing score is one of the worst on the list, thanks in part to the state having the eighth-highest median home price at $299,999. Although its property tax isn’t too bad, at 1.09 percent, Washington ties with Arkansas for the fifth-highest sales tax.
Washington’s jobs and income score gets hurt by its 5.8 percent unemployment rate. In terms of lifestyle, living expenses are high as well: The cost of groceries is near the top 10, and Washington has the 10th-highest child care cost.
Jobs and Income Score: 22
Housing Score: 74
Lifestyle Score: 40
Safety Score: 60
Families living in Nevada can benefit from below-average property taxes. A median home list price of $249,000 falls near the middle among the 50 states and D.C. Beyond that, Nevada families face many factors that limit their ability to live a richer life.
Nevada comes in with the fifth-worst jobs and income score, mainly because of the state’s 6.4 percent unemployment rate — the second highest in the country. The state’s sales tax is the fourth highest while its groceries and child care costs are on the more expensive side. Combined with the worst school district grade and tied with Alaska for the second-highest violent crime rate in the country, Nevada is not one of the best states for families.
Jobs and Income Score: 55
Housing and lifestyle costs hurt Connecticut’s chances of being one of the best states for families to live richer. You won’t save much money on housing considering Connecticut has the 11th-highest median home listing at $293,948. And the state’s property tax, the fourth highest nationwide, only makes the housing situation worse.
The cost of living and raising children is high in Connecticut, with the price of groceries and child care ranking among the top five highest in the U.S. On the positive side, low crime rates and quality schooling keep Connecticut from sinking lower on the list.
Jobs and Income Score: 32
Housing Score: 43
Healthcare Score: 45
Illinois is not one of the best states to live in if you’re looking for a richer family life. The state has a poor showing when it comes to jobs and income, in part owed to its 6.2 percent unemployment rate, which is tied for the third highest on the list.
Illinois housing can be a roadblock to a richer life, but not because of list prices. The median home list price is $209,500. The 2.32 percent property tax, on other hand, is the nation’s second highest, which hurts Illinois’ housing score.
Jobs and Income Score: 48
Lifestyle Score: 38
Healthcare Score: 40
California doesn't make it easy to raise a family in a rich life. Its scores are brought down by bad housing, lifestyle and healthcare scores. At $475,000, California has the second-highest median home list price, while its average family health insurance premium is among the top 10 most expensive in the U.S.
California’s lifestyle score is the second worst behind D.C. Cost of child care and groceries in the state are on the high end too, while its school districts rank toward the bottom 10 in the country.
Jobs and Income Score: 52
Housing Score: 46
Lifestyle Score: 29
Safety Score: 25
Coming in at No. 51 is the District of Columbia, which has many factors working against it. D.C. has the fourth-highest unemployment rate and second-highest median home price, $549,900, which drags its housing score down to the bottom 10 in the country.
D.C. ranks the worst in the U.S. for its lifestyle score. Buying groceries for the family is costly, and child care costs in D.C. are the highest in the nation by far: $40,473 a year. Just to make the situation a little worse, D.C. also suffers from the highest rates of violent and property crimes per year.
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