The 5 Best and Worst States in the U.S.

What state has the best colleges? Which is the worst state for businesses? The United States is vast, and with 50 states to choose from, residents have plenty of options if they want to switch up their environment. However, not all states are equal in every way. Some states have strong economies and ample opportunity, while others struggle to provide for residents and are plagued by high poverty or crime rates.

The state where you live can have a significant impact on your trajectory and quality of life. Below, we take a look at the best and worst states in the nation, exploring what makes them great or why they’re difficult to live in.

Best States to Live in


Up in the Pacific Northwest, the state of Washington tops the charts in terms of quality of life. Its beautiful environment is a strong point in its favor — the state boasts mountains, coastline, rainforests and deserts.

Additionally, it is one of the top state economies in the nation, operating as a key exporter and the birthplace of businesses like Starbucks and Microsoft. Health care in the state ranks strong and so does its high-quality infrastructure. Washington also has some of the best colleges in the nation, making it one of the top states for education, particularly students in the field of aeronautics or those looking for technical schools.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in the nation, but it provides some of the best opportunities for financial growth. Additionally, it has the lowest crime index by ZIP code of the nation, which means residents are highly likely to live peacefully and without fear.

One of the original colonies, New Hampshire’s environment is full of beautiful forests and rivers while also boasting plenty of historical attractions. As a result, it is one of the states with the best quality of life. Residents can enjoy comfortable and beautiful outdoor activities, good health and prosperity.


The state of Minnesota, bordering Canada, ranks third on the list of states with the highest quality of life. This can be attributed to its beautiful natural environment, high-quality infrastructure and opportunity for financial growth.

Although it is not one of the strongest state economies, it does have ample opportunity through major employers like the Mayo Clinic, Target and General Mills. It also ranks midway for financial stability, but individuals have the opportunity to rise through the ranks at their jobs and earn more.


Commonly associated with Mormons, Utah is actually one of the states with the best quality of life in the nation. When the state economies are ranked, Utah’s is the second-best in the nation, making it one of the best states to buy a home and start a career. In addition, residents in Utah are often more financially stable than residents in most other states, due in part to its strong economy and financial opportunities.

Utah also has a strong and reliable infrastructure system in place, which improves the economy overall and reduces risk. With an average low commute time, residents in Utah rarely have to spend hours traveling to and from work.


This northern state can get brutally cold in the winter, but its residents have long since adapted to the temperature. As a result, its natural environment is considered one of the best in the nation, perfect for a homestead lifestyle and outdoor activities in the summer and winter.

The crime rate in Vermont is the second-lowest in the nation, due in part to its small population. It is not one of the states with the best economy, but it offers opportunity for financial growth, education and quality health care. As a result, quality of life remains high nonetheless.

Worst States to Live in

New Mexico

Although New Mexico is known for its beautiful desert and mountain ranges, it does not offer the best quality of life. It is considered one of the worst states for education in the nation, particularly for grade school, where it is ranked dead last. About 70 percent of students graduate from high school, well below the national average of 84 percent.

It also ranks low for opportunity, crime and financial stability. New Mexico’s public safety rating is the lowest in the nation due to its high violent crime rate, which affects 783 out of every 100,000 residents. The national average is 394 per every 100,000 residents.

West Virginia

Despite being described as “almost heaven” in the famous John Denver song “Country Roads,” West Virginia ranks low on our list. The infrastructure and economy both rank last in the United States, as job opportunities rapidly disappear.

Residents often lack public transportation, internet access and reliable power grids. It is one of the worst states for businesses, as less than a third of the population is college-educated, and the state public health is the worst in the nation. With little opportunity for economic growth, residents struggle to find opportunities for financial improvement.


Mississippi ranks near the bottom of the list due to its poor economy and health care. Opportunities for professional development are low, and the high school graduation rate is below the national average. Additionally, preventable hospital admissions exceed the national average and the rate of uninsured residents is above 18 percent.

The state is last in access and quality of health care, which means residents are getting some of the worst care in the country. With a crumbling infrastructure and lack of fiscal stability, Mississippi is losing population at an astonishing rate.


The state of Alabama has a long history of conflict and upheaval. Today, it ranks last in education, while also having a high crime rate, poor health standards, a poor economy and little opportunity. The incarceration rate and violent crime rate are both above the national average, while infrastructure such as internet access remains low. Additionally, the rates of preventable hospital admissions and uninsured adults exceed the national average.


Louisiana ends our list as the worst states to live in the USA. It ranks last for economic opportunity, crime rate and natural environment due to frequent flooding, excessive toxins and unhealthy air quality. It loses jobs each year, which means residents are more likely to move out of state to find work. The economic opportunity is the lowest in the nation, and the state’s employee pay reflects that, with poverty rates well above the national average.™ is an independent polling company and privately operated business. Learn more about us here.