The results are in, and 2018’s ranking of Best States in the country has been announced! On February 27th, U.S. News & World Report announced that Iowa had been named this year’s Best State to live in. But sadly, not all states can be winners, and the state with the worst quality of life is kind of shocking. (For us sunshine chasers, at least.)
Before we reveal which state took home this dubious honor, let’s talk about the judging criteria.
States received overall scores based on eight categories, one of which was quality of life. This category is divided into two subcategories, “natural environment” and “social environment,” which are weighted equally. The “natural environment” subcategory measures things like pollution and air and water quality, while “social environment” encompasses community engagement, social support, and voter participation.
With that in mind, the state with the worst quality of life was…California.
Anyone who’s braved the 405 during rush hour or paid the exponentially high rent prices of SoCal might not be entirely surprised that California ranked poorly on this metric. But the Golden State actually scored low in this category because of its poor air quality, high levels of pollution, and low voter participation and community engagement. The state that was ranked first in quality of life? North Dakota.
But it’s not all bad news for California. The state had the fourth-best economy and ranked 11th in health care, bringing its overall ranking to 32nd place.
Despite these rankings, with California’s beautiful weather, breathtaking nature, and progressive social policies, there are definitely still perks to living in the Golden State. This year is only the second time that this ranking has been released, so maybe next year the numbers will be different. In the end, this list is just one way of evaluating states in the U.S., and you should live wherever you feel happiest.