In one way or another 2020 has been a tough year for most people, if not everyone. In fact, Google trend data revealed that relocation is currently a hot topic in the United States; over the last 30 days, searches for the ‘cost of moving house’ went up by 50%, ‘the best state to live in’ spiked by 120% and moving companies was a breakout search term. After looking at this data it is no surprise to us that our service to list a house in the MLS as a FSBO is having a record number of new home sellers using the service.

With research suggesting that people are looking to move out of state, we wanted to look at which states are the happiest, to offer invaluable insight for anyone hoping to relocate in 2021. 

Using publicly available data across ten different categories, we were able to create an index of the happiest states and what they rank highest and lowest for. The categories we analyzed to determine where residents are happiest include; crime rates, employment rates, school graduation rates, average life expectancy, sales tax, average annual sunshine, air quality, cost of living, quality of local hospitals and housing costs.

The top 10 happiest states are:

  1. Nebraska
  2. Iowa
  3. North Dakota
  4. Kansas
  5. Maine
  6. Minnesota
  7. Colorado
  8. South Dakota
  9. Hawaii
  10. Vermont

The top 10 unhappiest states are:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Nevada
  3. California
  4. Mississippi
  5. Kentucky
  6. Louisiana
  7. Tennessee
  8. Maryland
  9. Alaska
  10. Pennsylvania

picture of Happiest States 2021 Ranking

Nebraska hits the top spot in the Happiness Index, ranking in the top 20 for eight out of the 10 categories considered, and the top 10 for crime (7th) and air quality (6th). Nebraska, also known as the Cornhusker State, saw crime rates of just 2.2 per 100,000 people, compared to 12.4 per 100,000 people in Louisiana (50th place for this category)*.

Although Nebraska ranks highly for its air quality, Hawaii takes the lead for this category, ranking in 1st place with an air quality index of 21.2 – the cleanest air in the US**. Research shows that Hawaii is in fact home to two of the cleanest areas in the United States, Honolulu and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina. Unfortunately, the Aloha State may be inaccessible for many, as it sits at the bottom of the rankings for both cost of living, and housing costs – $200,000 will afford a homebuyer around 421 square feet, while rent prices are a staggering $2,333 per month on average***.

Runner up, Iowa, sits in the top 10 for five out of 10 categories; employment (10th), graduation rates (9th), air quality (8th), quality of local hospitals (9th) and housing costs (9th). Similarly to Nebraska, research revealed Iowa as a good all rounder in the Happiness Index, with its worst ranking being 28th place for sales tax – the state has a sales tax of 6%, almost a percent higher than the US average, which is 5.09%***.

Those who value a spacious home may wish to visit West Virginia. Despite ranking lowest overall (50th place), this state actually ranks in 2nd place for housing costs with a median home price of $115,000***. Beating West Virginia to the top spot is Mississippi which, despite placing 4th worst overall, boasts a median cost of just $114,500. If you’re willing to spend a little more, a $200,000 house in Mississippi is an average size of 2,236 square feet – the second largest in the US for that price***.

Minnesota placed in 7th, ranking in the top 10 for five out of the 10 categories. In fact, the state sits in the top 3 for crime rates (2nd), graduation rates (2nd), life expectancy (2nd) and quality of local hospitals (1st) – suggesting that it may be a good option for families looking to relocate to a safe and prosperous area!

Research is obviously the first thing you should do if you’re planning on moving anywhere, but we can often get so caught up in the logistics of it all that it is easy to forget about happiness as a factor – hence why we have compiled the Happiness Index. We want anyone looking to relocate to have all of the facts, so they can make a more informed decision on what’s right for them to then, hopefully, end up in their dream home and area.






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