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April 8, 2020

Top quality of life indicators (other than taxes!)

  • Long Distance Moves

Due to unprecedented circumstances, we've all gotten an extension for filing our taxes. If you were one of the overachievers who filed ahead of schedule, and you find yourself dismayed at your state income taxes, maybe you're suddenly considering moving.

But we all know that taxes aren't everything. Quality of life indicators are varied, diverse and personal. In fact, some Canadian policymakers, as reported in the National Post, think it's time their country's budget prioritized other factors over economic barometers.

Here are some other quality of life indicators to consider before your next move.

How do I choose where to live?

There are a variety of different metrics to consider when you're deciding where to live. Are you more of a beach bum or a mountain climber? Do you need the excitement of a big city, or are you content with the quiet and solitude of the country? Maybe you are a member of a particular faith organization, and having a large community of fellow worshippers in your area is something that you need to be happy.

We obviously can't produce a single list that will find the No. 1 state for everybody.

So, here's the next best thing. We'll round up a few prominent lists.

The Human Development Index (HDI), which is an assessment created by the United Nations Development Programme, takes into account life expectancy, education and living standards. In addition to scoring countries, the HDI is also segmented by "subnational units," including states.

In 2018, the top five states by HDI were:

1. Massachusetts.
2. Connecticut.
3. Minnesota.
4. New Jersey (tie).
4. New Hampshire (tie).

Another prominent listing is compiled by the U.S. News and World Report. This publication ranks states based on health care and education, somewhat similarly to the HDI. It also uses weighted scores for infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and the natural environment.

Based on these criteria, the publication found the top states for 2019 to be:

  1. Washington.
  2. New Hampshire.
  3. Minnesota.
  4. Utah.
  5. Vermont.

You may have noticed that Minnesota and New Hampshire appeared on both lists. Not bad for them!

When deciding where to live, many people will also want to know what it's like for the LGBTQ community in that state. For this dimension, rankings vary. Some focus on resources for LGBTQ youth, others on retirees. Still others find city rankings to be more relevant than state lists.

For our purposes, we'll consult the 2019 Business Climate Index from Out Leadership, which creates state rankings based on which jurisdictions have created protections for LGBTQ people while assigning lower rankings to states where regulations they deem to be discriminatory have passed.

According to these rankings, the top five states were:

  1. Massachusetts.
  2. California.
  3. Connecticut.
  4. Vermont.
  5. Rhode Island.

Altogether, do these rankings tell you everything you need to know about quality of life indicators for a particular state? Definitely not. We encourage you to find the rankings that correspond most closely to your values and to think carefully about what you need for a fulfilling life, in your home state or elsewhere.

If you're ready to pull up stakes and move on to the state of your dreams, reach out to your local Atlas Agent for moving assistance and advice.