Companies are clamoring for skilled workers, and one of the best ways to attract them is to set up shop in a great place to live. That is why we include Quality of Life in our annual America's Top States for Business study. The category is worth a possible 300 out of 2,500 total points. We measure things like crime rates, health and health care, attractions, air quality, and inclusiveness. You can view our methodology and this year's sources here. Travel with us now through America's Top States to call home.
The air is clean, crime is low, and residents of the Cornhusker State are healthy, hardy souls. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control report Nebraska is one of America's top states for mental health. There is such a thing as being too serene, however. Nebraska is somewhat lacking in things to do.
2017 Quality of Life score: 208 out of 300 points
Strengths: Air quality, low crime rate, health
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 18
Massachusetts is one of America's most visited states, and it is easy to see why. The Bay State is healthy, wealthy and wise. A mere 3 percent lack health insurance — the lowest rate in the country — and premature deaths and infant mortality are rare. Massachusetts has a heritage of liberty that is reflected in its antidiscrimination laws. The crime rate is a bit high, and air quality can be low, but they are on par with other urban centers.
2017 Quality of Life score: 208 out of 300 points
Strengths: Attractions, health, inclusiveness
Weaknesses: Air quality, crime rate
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 17
Putting down roots in the Hawkeye State can be a prudent choice. You'll find a peaceful Midwest lifestyle, fresh air, low crime, and welcoming communities. Protections against discrimination are relatively strong, and Iowans have always been known to look out for one another. The downside of all this peace and good will is that there can be a lack of things to do.
2017 Quality of Life score: 213 out of 300 points
Strengths: Air quality, low crime rate, inclusiveness
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 9
Perhaps the sky in Montana seems so big because it has some of the cleanest air in the nation. The state offers glorious scenery and an almost unlimited supply of things to do—if you love the great outdoors. It would help if those wide-open spaces were filled in with a few more primary care doctors, which are in short supply here. As a result, the state finishes near the middle of the pack for overall health.
2017 Quality of Life score: 214 out of 300 points
Strengths: Air quality, inclusiveness
Weaknesses: Health, crime
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 10
If you are looking for a peaceful place to live, you won't do much better than the Pine Tree State, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation. The state of 1.3 million people had just 16 murders last year. Maine offers strong legal protections against discrimination. It does not, however, offer many things to do.
2017 Quality of Life score: 216 out of 300 points
Strengths: Low crime rate, inclusiveness
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 5
The motto of the Granite State is "Live Free or Die." With robust antidiscrimination laws, New Hampshire protects all of its residents' ability to do just that. Also robust: healthy New Hampshirites themselves. The road to the top of Mount Washington is billed as "America's oldest man-made attraction," and the journey is breathtaking. But once you have made it to the top and collected your famous "This car climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker, you may be hurting for things to do.
2017 Quality of Life score: 218 out of 300 points
Strengths: Low crime rate, health, inclusiveness
Weaknesses: Air quality, attractions
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 4
America's Top State for Business in 2017 is also one of the top states to live in. Enjoy natural and man-made beauty, from the soaring Cascades to the Space Needle. Washington is a healthy and livable state that protects all its residents with strong antidiscrimination laws. Who says a strong economy requires sacrifices in quality of life? We sure don't.
2017 Quality of Life score: 224 out of 300 points
Strengths: Health, attractions, inclusiveness
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 8
Lower oil prices have not been great for North Dakota's economy, but they did help ease its growing pains, allowing the Peace Garden State to better live up to its nickname. The crime rate is low, and air quality is pristine. North Dakotans are healthy, and they take care of themselves. The state boasts the lowest rate of drug-related deaths in the nation. But things can be a little too peaceful sometimes — the state lacks much to do.
2017 Quality of Life score: 231 out of 300 points
Strengths: Low crime rate, air quality, health
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 7
People in the North Star State pride themselves on being "Minnesota nice," which helps explain the relatively low crime rate. Residents of the state that is home to the renowned Mayo Clinic are also Minnesota healthy, with the nation's lowest rate of premature deaths. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are an Upper Midwest mecca for arts and culture, and the state has no shortage of outdoor activities all year-round. But relative to other places, the state still suffers from a lack of things to do.
2017 Quality of Life score: 244 out of 300 points
Strengths: Health, inclusiveness, air quality
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 2
The Green Mountain State offers the nation's lowest violent crime rate. In 2009 the Vermont state legislature became the first in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, and it has followed that action with a robust slate of antidiscrimination laws. Vermonters are healthy, and with the nation's second-lowest rate of uninsured residents, they are likely to stay that way. Living in Vermont is like getting away from it all every day of the year. But the state does suffer from a lack of attractions.
2017 Quality of Life score: 259 out of 300 points
Strengths: Low crime rate, inclusiveness, health
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 3
It almost isn't fair. With America's cleanest air, healthiest population and some of its most visited attractions, Hawaii walks away with the Quality of Life category year after year after year. The other 49 states can try to compete, but come on — this is Hawaii! If there is a weakness — and we use the term loosely in this case — it is that crime is rising in Hawaii, with double-digit increases in violent crimes, including robbery and assault last year. But the state still finishes in the top half for low crime rates. Try to compete with that, every other state. Mahalo, Hawaii. You have given every other state something to strive for, even if they'll probably never get there.
2017 Quality of Life score: 268 out of 300 points
Strengths: Health, air quality, inclusiveness, attractions
Weakness: Crime rate
2016 Quality of Life rank: No. 1