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Figuring out Where to Live in 2021

Data from The Neighbor 2020-2021 American Migration Report shows that 35 percent of Americans moved in 2020, while 56 percent plan to move in 2021. Nine percent who already moved in 2020 and are still planning to move again this year.

Only 13 percent of those who are moving in 2021 are doing so for better safety against Covid-19. Almost half or 47 percent are moving to lower their cost of living, 30 percent are moving to be closer to their family, 19 percent are moving because they now have more work flexibility, 16 percent are moving to look for job opportunities, and 13 percent are moving to be closer to better schools.

Before you look for a moving company to follow suit, check out how the various states fare. See why people are leaving some states and are flocking to others before you decide where you want to go.

Top 10 Best States

The U.S. News & World 2021 Best States rankings are based on how a state handles certain categories, with varied weights, including 15.97 percent for health care, 15.94 percent for education, 13.36 percent for the economy, 12.93 percent for infrastructure, 12.29 percent for opportunity, 11.36 percent for fiscal stability, 9.16 percent for crime and corrections, and 8.99 percent for the natural environment.

Health care covers access, affordability, and quality of public health. Education covers pre-K to 12th grade and higher education. Economy pertains to the business environment, employment, growth of GDP and new businesses, and migration into the state. Infrastructure covers energy, Internet access, transportation, and bridges. Opportunity means economic opportunity, housing affordability, poverty, and equality. Fiscal stability includes both the short-term and long-term government liquidity, budget balancing, pension fund liability, and credit rating. Crime and corrections cover public safety and the quality and fairness of prison systems. The natural environment covers air and water quality and pollution.

The top 10 best states, in order, are Washington, Minnesota, Utah, New Hampshire, Idaho, Nebraska, Virginia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Florida. The top 10 states provide a more balanced distribution of positive qualities.

Among them, the top for economy is Utah, followed by Washington. The highest for infrastructure is Washington, followed by Utah. Minnesota is best for opportunity, followed by New Hampshire. Idaho is highest for fiscal stability, followed by Utah.

Massachusetts is highest for health care and education. Second for health care is Washington. Second for education is Florida. New Hampshire is top for crime and corrections, followed by Massachusetts. New Hampshire is also highest for the natural environment, followed by Massachusetts.

How Other States Fare

Among all states, the top for economy is still Utah, followed by Colorado. First for infrastructure is Nevada, followed by Oregon. Iowa is best in opportunity, followed by Minnesota. For fiscal stability, Alaska is first, followed by South Dakota.

Hawaii is number one in health care, followed by Massachusetts. New Jersey tops education followed again by Massachusetts. For crime and corrections, New Hampshire is first, followed by Maine. For the natural environment, Hawaii is again on top, followed by New Hampshire.

Note that when states are not in the top 10, they may rank very high in one category but very low in others. Check the table to determine how each state ranks for each category.

The lowest-ranked state was Louisiana, followed by Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

High Cost of Living

Among the states that people are exiting because of steep living costs, according to the World Population Review, are Hawaii, California, New York, Alaska, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Cost of living encompasses average wages, the average cost of rent or mortgage payments, and prices of necessities.

When rents or mortgage payments and prices are high, budgets are tight, and people can only afford tiny places to live in where they feel cramped. Many residents live in these states just to stay close to work. When businesses asked their employees to shift to a remote work setup, many began to look for living accommodations elsewhere.

Low Employment Prospects

Some states have an affordable cost of living but have a dearth of well-paying job opportunities. The states with the highest unemployment rates and the lowest minimum wage at $7.25 per hour in 2021 are Utah, Kansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

These cannot make up for lower expenses. People are still moving away to look for better opportunities elsewhere.

Live Where You Will Thrive

You can use the state ranking as well as the list of states to avoid in determining which state fits you best, depending on what you value most. If you can afford it, it is best to visit the state you are eyeing and the specific locality you want to move to. Get a feel of the place and see if you sense a connection to it.

It is also best to secure a job before you move to a new state. Unless you are moving in connection with your current job, it is a huge risk to start job hunting from scratch when you get there. If you already have a job in hand, moving will give you a fresh start.

If you are planning to start your own small business online, you can do this anywhere. Go ahead and move to an area that is affordable and business-friendly so you can use your resources to grow your enterprise and thrive.