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America's 10 worst states to live in 2015

Places with poor quality of life

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Most of us are partial to the place we call home, but face it: Some places are better to live in than others. Our Top States study uses hard data to measure all 50 states. Quality of Life counts for 325 out of our 2,500 possible points. You can see our full rankings and complete methodology here. If you live in one of these 10 states, you probably don't agree. But by the numbers, these are the worst places to call home.

—By CNBC's Scott Cohn
Posted 24 June 2015

10. Kentucky

A man smokes a cigarette near his mobile home in Jackson, Kentucky.
Luke Sharrett | The Washington Post | Getty Images

When you think of Kentucky, do bourbon and cigarettes come to mind? They apparently do for people in the Bluegrass State, where heavy smoking and drinking make this one of the unhealthiest states in the nation. Air quality is poor—maybe because of all the cigarette smoke—but at least the crime rate is low.


Caption: A man smoking a cigarette near his mobile home in Jackson, Kentucky.

9. Alabama

People rally against same sex marriage on the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, AL on February 21, 2015. The Alabama capitol was the destination of the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 that helped lead to the Voting Rights Act.
Jo Mount | The Washington Post | Getty Images

The Heart of Dixie has a heart condition—one of the worst cardiovascular death rates in the country. Local attractions are hard to come by, and some Alabama laws still on the books have been described as "antigay," counting against the state for inclusiveness. One of the few positives: Alabama has better-than-average air quality.


Caption: People rally against same-sex marriage on the steps of the capitol in Montgomery. The Alabama capitol was the destination of the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965 that helped lead to the Voting Rights Act.

8. Ohio

Factory sunset in Cleveland, Ohio.
UIG | Getty Images

Buck up, Ohioans. At least the Buckeye State didn't decline from its dismal quality-of-life showing last year, but it didn't improve, either. Fewer than half of state residents exercise regularly, and despite a growing health-care industry, Ohioans rank near the bottom for health. The state does have a wealth of local attractions, from Fountain Square in Cincinnati to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland—good for a temporary escape from your humdrum life.


Caption: Sunset over a factory in Cleveland

7. Arkansas

An unidentified man, center, is escorted from a medical clinic in Little Rock, Ark., by Drug Enforcement Administration officers Wednesday, May 20, 2015.
Danny Johnston | AP

Arkansas' official nickname—The Natural State—probably doesn't refer to the food. More than one-third of Arkansans are obese, and more than a quarter of adults are smokers. Arkansas is among the worst states for violent crime. But there is plenty to do in this southeastern state, from Hot Springs and the Ozark Mountains to Bill Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock.


Caption: An unidentified man, center, is escorted from a medical clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas, by Drug Enforcement Administration officers in May.

6. Louisiana

Police investigate the scene of a shooting inside a restaurant in New Orleans, Friday, April 17, 2015.
Gerald Herbert | AP

They do love to eat in Louisiana, and with the quality of the food, it's hard to blame them. But this is about quality of life, and all that good food has left a third of the residents of the Pelican State obese. The governor has vowed not to let corporations "bully" him into providing antidiscrimination provisions; that hurts the state on inclusiveness. The crime rate is high.


Caption: Police investigate the scene of a shooting inside a restaurant in New Orleans in April.

5. Indiana

Demonstrators gather outside the City County Building on March 30, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The group called on the state house to roll back the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics say can be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
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The Hoosier State triggered a major corporate backlash with its so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and while the legislature eventually passed language to clarify the law, there is still no statewide ban on discrimination based on orientation. Indiana has other issues as well, including poor health and poor air quality.


Caption: Demonstrators gather outside the city council building in Indianapolis asking politicians to roll back the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics say can be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

4. Missouri

A demonstrator is detained and arrested during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department on March11, 2015 in Ferguson, MO.
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Legend has it that the Show Me State got its nickname in 1899 when a Missouri congressman proclaimed that he could not be swayed by "frothy eloquence." These days, it could refer to Missourians wishing someone would show them a good time. Oh, there's plenty to do in St. Louis and Kansas City, but there is also high crime, poor health and dirty air.


Caption: A demonstrator is detained and arrested during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department in March.

3. Michigan

Graffiti is painted on the walls of the abandoned Packard Automotive Plant December 13, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.
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The Wolverine State has made great strides on the comeback trail, and with more coastline than any state except Alaska, it is a place of tremendous natural beauty. But some things have yet to recover from years of decline. The crime rate remains high, air quality is poor, and statewide antidiscrimination protections are limited.


Caption: Graffiti on the walls of the abandoned Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit

2. Oklahoma

Attendees of Yukon, Oklahoma, participate in a prayer during the 2015 Southern Republican Leadership Conference May 22, 2015 in Oklahoma City,
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"Oh, what a beautiful morning," sings cowboy Curly McLain in the opening act of the state's namesake musical. But Oklahoma! is set in 1906. Modern mornings in the Sooner State might include breathing some polluted air or eating one of the big breakfasts that make this one of the fattest states in the country.


Caption: Attendees participate in a prayer during the 2015 Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City.

1. Tennessee

Caution tape marks off the scene after a Memphis police officer was shot and transported to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., Thursday, April 2, 2015.
Brad Vest | The Commercial Appeal | AP

It is not true that the Volunteer State's nickname refers to residents who are offering to leave, but with numbers like these, it would be hard to blame them. Tennessee has the fourth worst crime rate in the country. More than a third of adults are obese, nearly a quarter smoke, and Tennesseans suffer the eighth-highest rate of premature death in the nation. The state does have some gorgeous scenery and a rich musical heritage. Nashville is the home of country music, and Memphis is the heart of the blues—which they can sing with sincerity.


Caption: Caution tape marks off a scene where a Memphis police officer was shot in April.