The pandemic has inspired many people to rethink where they live. A recent Bankrate/YouGov poll showed that 10% of Americans moved or relocated due to Covid-19 in 2020. And according to the site Hire a Helper, 25% of Americans who moved last year did it specifically because of the pandemic. So where are the best—and cheapest—places to live? Two recent studies rank not only the best and the cheapest states in the country, but also the best and most affordable cities to live.
To come up with its new report on the best states to live, the personal finance website WalletHub compared all 50 states using 52 key factors like affordability, housing costs, income growth, entrepreneurial activity, education and more. The metrics—which were each weighted differently—were compiled to come up with the overall score and used to rank each state.
Coming in at the top of the list was (drumroll, please) New Jersey. Though New Jersey is actually one of the most expensive states in the U.S. (it ranked 49 in terms of affordability ), it got top marks for safety, quality of life, education and health. Second on the list was Massachusetts, followed by New York. New Mexico came in last, due to the poor performance of its economy, plus low marks in education, health and safety.
In its report, WalletHub also ranked the most affordable states to live in America. At the top of the list was Alabama, followed by West Virginia and Arkansas. Not surprisingly, California came in last as the most expensive state in America.
Want to drill down even further? The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) recently ranked the 10 most affordable cities in the U.S. using its annual Cost of Living Index. Since 1968, C2ER has been collecting and publishing this cost of living index data at the local level in order to help people compare cities across the country. And a note that the top-ranking affordable places to live on the C2ER list aren’t just cheap: They also have a low income to-expense ratio. In other words, the citizens of these top-ranking places have opportunities to make money, balanced with a low cost of living (from groceries to housing).
Coming in at the top of the C2ER list was Cedar Park, Texas, which was named the most affordable place to live in America. Set outside Austin, Cedar Park made it to the top of the list, due to its low cost of living index (7.2% below the national average) and high income levels (17.8% above the national median). And it has some other things going for it: beautiful public spaces (including a city sculpture garden), great amenities (including a winery) and lots of job opportunities in three major fields (computers and mathematics, architecture and engineering, business and financial operations).
Read on to see the lists.
The 10 Best States to Live in the U.S.
Here are the top 10 best states to live in, according to WalletHub’s report. To see how the rest of the states ranked, you can access the full list here.
- New Jersey
- New York
- New Hampshire
The 10 Cheapest States to Live in the U.S.
Here are the top 10 cheapest states to live in, according to WalletHub’s report.
- West Virginia
The 10 Most Affordable Cities to Live in the U.S.
Here are the top 10 most affordable cities to live in the U.S., according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living report.
- Cedar Park, Texas
- Midland, Texas
- Ogden, Utah
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Provo, Utah
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Austin, Texas
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Winchester, Virginia