How Life Varies in Different States
Different strokes for different folks. One of the many advantages of living in the United States is there are so many different places to live. You can opt for the mountains or live by the sea. You can live in open country and rural farmlands, bustling cities or remote forested areas. Hot, cold or temperate climates — whatever suits your style of living. The U.S. has it all. Here’s a sampling of how different life can be depending on where you choose to live.
Take home prices and incomes, for example. In Washington, D.C., the median home price is about $620,000, and the median income is $71,000. However, in Kentucky those numbers are $190,000 and $45,000, respectively. In California, the median home price is $549,000, and the median income is $66,637, while in Massachusetts, the median home price is $470,000 and the median salary is $111,453.1
However, one’s style of living may not be so much about how much you earn as how much you bring home. To that end, it’s worth considering state taxes. Currently, Alaska has the lowest effective state and local tax at 5.67 percent. The highest is Illinois at 14.89 percent. Fifteen states have rates above 12 percent, largely in the central and northeast areas of the country, including Mississippi, Michigan, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.2
Beyond the income you earn and the amount available after taxes, a key factor is how far your money goes in your local area. Apparently, the three U.S. cities with highest cost of living are Waterbury, Connecticut; Babylon, New York; and Mountain View, California.3
When planning for retirement, you may want to think about relocating if you’re concerned that your lifestyle will drop considerably after you stop earning a paycheck. Some people sell their costly homes in large cities or other expensive areas of the country to relocate somewhere much cheaper, where they can use those home equity proceeds to enhance their retirement lifestyle. If you’d like some assistance in assessing your retirement income strategy and how insurance products may fit into that strategy, we’re here to help.
If politics drive your state of choice, it might be worth checking out which way people in certain areas lean. According to an assessment by The Economist, Mesa, Arizona is the most conservative city in America. The most liberal? San Francisco.4
This year’s rankings from U.S. News & World Report revealed that North Dakota comes in at No. 1 for the best quality of life, largely due to the state’s natural beauty and small, villagelike communities. The top five is rounded out with Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and South Dakota. If you’ve noticed they all have strikingly colder climates, the theory goes that cold weather creates tighter-knit communities — and the quality of our relationships is what makes for a high quality of life. Interestingly, the five worst states for quality of life all have dense populations: Texas, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey and California.5
Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation published a study in JAMA with findings on the states with the best and worst statistics for disease and mortality. It turns out that people born in Hawaii are most likely to have a long life expectancy, compared to all other states. West Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama rank highest in people dying between the ages of 20 and 55, while New York, California and Minnesota ranked the lowest in this category.6
1 Ian Salisbury. Money Magazine. Aug. 3, 2018. “This Map Shows the Salary You’d Need to Buy an Average Home in Every State.” http://time.com/money/5355518/home-price-salary-every-state/. Accessed Aug. 3, 2018.
2 John S Kiernan. WalletHub.com. March 3, 2018. “2018 Tax Rates by State.” https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-be-a-taxpayer/2416/. Aug. 3, 2018.
3 Expatistan. “Cost of living in United States.” https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/country/united-states. Accessed Aug. 3, 2018.
4 Forbes. “The most and least conservative cities in America.” https://www.forbes.com/pictures/gfii45img/most-conservative-no-1/#3bc06b62792a. Accessed Aug. 3, 2018.
5 Grace Donnelley. Fortune. Feb. 28, 2018. “These States Offer the Best and Worst Quality of Life.” http://fortune.com/2018/02/28/states-best-worst-quality-of-life/. Accessed Aug. 3, 2018.
6 Jacqueline Howard. CNN. April 11, 2018. “The states where disease and death are highest: A visual guide.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/10/health/states-life-expectancy-study/index.html. Accessed Aug. 3, 2018.