Sick and tired of living in your state? You may not be the only one.
If your state is on this list of the top 10 worst states to live in, it turns out that a significant chunk of your state’s population thinks the same way you do. These numbers come from a poll that Gallup conducted based on interviews with at least 600 residents in all 50 states held from June to December 2013.
This was the first time that Gallup ever measured whether residents felt that their states were “the best possible state to live in,” “one of the best possible states to live in,” “a good state as any to live in,” or “the worst possible state to live in.” While the large majority of participants responded with the answers “one of the best” or “as good as any,” Gallup still was able to calculate the general perceptions of what people thought about the state they currently lived in.
As for those who do consider their states to be the best possible states to live in, Montana and Alaska tie for first place, with 77 percent of their residents holding the most positive beliefs about their state—that’s more than three-quarters of the states’ polled populations. Utah follows with 70 percent, then Wyoming with 69 percent and Texas with 68 percent. Rounding out the top 12 best states to live in (three states tie for the No. 10 spot) are New Hampshire (67 percent), North Dakota (66 percent), Colorado (65 percent), and Vermont, Oregon and Minnesota, all with 61 percent.
Trends in these numbers conclude that residents of Western and Midwestern states tend to see their states in a more positive light, and all top 10 highest-rated states are located west of the Mississippi River. On the contrary, all but one of the worst-ranked states are located either to the east or bordering the Mississippi River.
Most of the highest-rated states also have relatively low populations, including the four states with the smallest populations in the U.S.: Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska. The one major exception is Texas, which is the second most populated state in the nation.
The residents with the most positive views of their states tend to enjoy a greater standard of living—which tends to come with a higher median income—more trust in their state governments and more positive feelings about how much they pay in taxes each year. Various metrics were used in addition to these, such as economic confidence, well-being and stress levels.
See if your state makes the cut for worst states to live, according to your fellow current residents. Next to each state is the percentage of residents who say that their state is the best or one of the best, with each state having a lower percentage until the worst state to live in at the end of the list.
If your state does make the cut, you might want to ask yourself: Ready to move?
10: Connecticut (31%)
Not only does Connecticut make the top 10 worst states list from Gallup, but this Northeastern state also ranked No. 2 on Gallup’s list for states where the most residents would leave if they could. In fact, nearly half (49 percent) of residents said that if they had the chance to move out of Connecticut, they’d take it in a heartbeat. The state also ranks No. 7 on Ranker’s list of worst places to live in the U.S.
This may have something to do with residents’ perception of their well-being while living in the state. Healthways and Gallup developed a Well-Being Index, on which Connecticut ranked No. 31 overall. Its worst category? Work environment, for which it ranked No. 49. One of the worst ranked areas overall in the state was New Haven-Milford, which scored in the lowest category for both life evaluation and work environment. Connecticut also has one of the higher unemployment rates in the country, ranking No. 38 with 6.9 percent unemployment as of April 2014.
9: Missouri (29%)
In addition to placing on this list of the worst states to live in, Missouri also ranks at No. 8 on the Gallup-Healthways list of most miserable states as one of the lowest ranked on the Well-being Index.
Its life expectancy is the 11th lowest at 77.5 years, 14th highest in percent of residents who were obese at 29 percent, 14th lowest in median household income at $45,321, and 23rd lowest in percent of residents with a high school diploma at 88 percent. In fact, it scored in the lowest quintile in all categories in 2013, except physical health and basic access to healthcare, both in the second-lowest quintile.
Missouri ranks No. 34 on the U.S. list of unemployment rates at 7.4 percent. It also has the third highest cost of living in the country and the 14th highest combined state and local tax rate as of January 2014.
8: Maryland (29%)
Maryland makes the cut on both this list of worst states as well as Gallup’s poll of states where the most residents would leave if they could (No. 3 – 47 percent). Bankrate recently released a list of the worst states to retire in, and Maryland ranked No. 9. The state also has the 11th highest cost of living in the country, and its crime rate and life expectancy are well below par. It can be such a scary place to live (particularly in Baltimore) that an entire television series was made about it.
However, it ranks fairly well on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index at No. 18. It also has a relatively decent rate of unemployment, with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, and an OK tax rate as the 17th lowest. But whether or not that’s enough to keep residents happy is up for debate.
7: New Jersey (28%)
Respondents to Ranker’s poll of worst states to live in agree with the state’s nearly two-thirds of unhappy residents by ranking New Jersey as Ranker’s No. 1 worst state. The staff at Gawker ranks New Jersey the fourth worst state to live in—not for Trenton or Camden, not for Jersey Shore or the Housewives, not for the accents, tanning, jewelry or hair, not the mob (what they say one traditionally thinks of when saying, “New Jersey sucks!”), but for the fact that New Jersey natives constantly talk about their own state and defend it to the death.
The Fiscal Times places New Jersey on its list of worst places to live in the future, namely due to the state’s high rate of unemployment (No. 38 at 9.2 percent), its slow rate of job creation, and the fact that it has some of the nation’s highest crime neighborhoods. New Jersey has the fifth highest cost of living and the 24th highest combined state and local tax rate. It also ranks in the mid-range of the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index at No. 23—one small save for not being in the lowest quintile—with its worst scores being in emotional health and work environment.
6: New Mexico (28%)
New Mexico has the unique distinction of being the only state on the worst states list to be located in the West (only one not east of or bordering the Mississippi River). On Gawker’s list, New Mexico ranks as the 13th worst state in the U.S., not quite making the top 10, for its lack of acceptance for homosexuals, prevalence of ghosts, the strangeness surrounding Roswell and the dark secrets of Carlsbad Caverns—concluding that basically everything outside of Santa Fe is “something of a horrorscape.”
As for the unemployment rate, New Mexico ranks at No. 37 with 6.8 percent, and it has the 16th highest tax rate in the country. It also ranks No. 33 on the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index and has the 13th highest cost of living in the country.
All that being said, the state doesn’t appear on most of the other lists of worst states researched, so at least that’s a plus.
5: Michigan (28%)
On the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index, Michigan ranks No. 37 with its lowest scores in life evaluation and work environment, followed by physical health and healthy behaviors. It ranks as the 16th worst state on Gawker’s list, mainly for the “absolute hellhole” that is Detroit and the fact that Flint and Grand Rapids aren’t doing much better—essentially a reminder of what’s to come for a fading country. One of Michigan’s biggest problems, partially due to its failing blue collar industries, is that it ranks No. 44 in the country for unemployment rate at 7.4 percent.
It does, however, rank fairly well in basic access to healthcare at No. 16 on the Well-being Index. It also doesn’t cost as much to live there, as it comes in as the 18th lowest on the 2013 Annual Average Cost of Living list. Another plus for Michigan is its lower tax rate, coming in at only No. 37 on the list of highest state and local combined tax rates. But Michigan still has plenty of other problems to deal with, and residents tend to agree.
4: Louisiana (27%)
In top 10 worst states to live in, Louisiana tends to appear on a lot of them. In fact, according to Gallup, 40 percent of Louisiana residents would leave the state if they could, the ninth highest in that poll. It also ranks as the 10th most miserable state based on factors gathered by the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index.
This is due to it having the fourth lowest life expectancy at 75.7 years, the fourth highest number of obese residents, the eighth lowest household income at $42,944 and the fourth lowest percentage of residents with a high school diploma at 83 percent. Its tax rate is also the third highest in the nation.
Bankrate ranks Louisiana at No. 7 for worst states to retire in, in part due to its property and violent crimes rate, its poor healthcare quality scores and the weather—Louisiana is the second most humid state in the country, and summers can be particularly difficult to endure. Gawker ranks it as the eighth worst state in the nation due to its rate of violence (even in churches) and the fact that towns like Houma and Monroe exemplify the horrors of what it feels like to live in Louisiana outside of New Orleans.
It does have a relatively low cost of living (19th lowest), however, and New Orleans was recently ranked by Forbes to be one of the top cities for brainpower (highest number of graduates flock to New Orleans) and one of the best cities to find a job, based in part on the promise of growing industries, particularly technology.
3: Mississippi (26%)
Just over one in four Mississippi residents consider their state to be the best or one of the best in the country—certainly no number to brag about. According to another Gallup poll, 39 percent of Mississippi residents are ready to call it quits on the state as well. Mississippi too appears on many of the top 10 worst states lists, exposing the general consensus that many Americans just do not care for the state.
To name a few: Ranker calls it the third worst state in the nation. The Fiscal Times has Mississippi on its list due to a shocking unemployment rate (8.7 percent, the sixth worst in the nation) and its residents being stuck in low-skilled jobs with nothing but pessimism regarding economic improvement. Gawker rates Mississippi the fifth worst state due to its rampant racism (which has even become part of their economy) and their inability to provide a good education (consistently ranks worst in the nation).
Another list is the top 10 most miserable states in the country based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index, and as the third most miserable state, Mississippi is also the most miserable state on this worst states list. This is due to the fact that it has the lowest life expectancy rate at 75 years, the highest percentage of obese residents at 35.4 percent and the lowest median household income at $37,095 (24.2 percent of residents live below the poverty line, more than any other state).
But, wait, it has only the third lowest percentage of the population with a high school diploma at 82.3 percent (its saving grace?). Mississippi also has the worst score in its residents’ perception about their work environment, and it’s the most likely state in the country to lack access to basic necessities.
So is there any good in Mississippi? It has the lowest cost of living in the nation and has only the 20th highest tax rate —but then again, you get what you pay for, don’t you?
2: Illinois (19%)
Not only do a mere 19 percent of Illinois residents think their state is the best or one of the best states to live, but many of them also want to get out of dodge—exactly half of them, in fact, according to a recent Gallup poll—the highest percentage in the country.
Their primary reasons are work or business-related, which is unsurprising given that Illinois has the third highest unemployment rate at 7.9 percent and the 10th highest tax rate. Those reasons to leave are followed by weather, location, quality of life and simply needing a change. Its level of corruption in government probably doesn’t help either.
Illinois is in the upper half of the country (No. 22) on the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index, at least, with its worst score being healthy behaviors, though interestingly its highest score was in physical health. It’s also No. 22 on the list of highest average cost of living, which puts it at about the very middle of that average.
1: Rhode Island (18%)
Not only does a miniscule portion of Rhode Island’s population think highly of their state, but 42 percent are also ready to skip town, the fifth highest percentage, according to Gallup. And the proof is in the numbers as to why residents feel this way: Rhode Island is the 12th worst state in the country on the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index and the third worst state for the emotional health of its residents, who also tend to have a poor life evaluation, inadequate work environment and poor physical health.
Gawker ranks Rhode Island as only the 23rd worst state in the country, though it points out the fact that Rhode Island is extremely corrupt and bland, with very little to do in the area. And it has only the 21st highest tax rate in the country. But with that tax rate comes the seventh highest cost of living in the country. And the cherry on top: Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 8.3 percent. Wonder why everyone wants to get out?