Ask any parent, and they will tell you that raising a family is tough work. There are a lot of factors to consider, inside and outside the home including finances, personal beliefs, community diversity, and quality of schools, to a name a few. But sometimes, raising a happy, healthy family means packing up and heading to a new state. Looking to make a move this year? Before you do, read through this list of the best and worst states to raise a family.
On Monday, personal finance site WalletHub released its annual survey of which states offer "the best combination of qualities that matter most to parents and their kids." For its list, the personal finance site ranked each state using an accumulation of factors within five dimensions, including, but not limited to, median family salary, affordable housing, child care costs, unemployment rate, and infant mortality rate. WalletHub then calculated a total score based on these 42 key indicators of family-friendliness, graded on a 100-point scale, which determined where they landed on the 2018 list, according to WCHS TV.
Some of the states that landed on the top or bottom of WalletHub's annual list didn't place significantly in the individual categories. But, overall, each of the states offered a combination of factors that were either favorable or unfavorable to raising a family, according to WalletHub.
The 5 Best States
No. 1: Massachusetts
Massachusetts takes the top spot on WalletHub's list for a number of reasons: It's affordable, has great education and child care, and has one of the lowest infant mortality rates. The New England state is also considered the healthiest state to live in, according to the United Health Foundation's 2017 America's Health Rankings report.
No. 2: Minnesota
It's no surprise that Minnesota would rank high on WalletHub's list. The Midwestern state has the highest median family income, one of the lowest divorce rates, and one of the lowest percentage of families in poverty. Minnesota also ranks high for health and safety, as well as socio-economics, according to WalletHub's calculations.
No. 3: New Hampshire
New Hampshire placed high on four of WalletHub's five dimensions: Health and safety, education and child care, affordability, and socio-economics. The Northern state also has the lowest percentage of families in poverty, the lowest infant mortality rate, and one of the fewest violent crimes per capita rates, according to WalletHub's survey.
No. 4: North Dakota
North Dakota finds itself in fourth place because it's among the states with the highest median family salary, the most affordable housing, the lowest percentage of families in poverty, and lowest divorce rates. It also takes the top spot in two of WalletHub's five dimensions: Education and child care, and socio-economics.
No. 5: Vermont
It's no surprise that Vermont would round out the best five states to live. The state has one of the lowest infant mortality rates, and fewest violent crimes per capita rates. Vermont also took the top spot for in the Health and Safety dimension, which is not a surprise because the United Health Foundation named the state the third healthiest state of 2017.
The 5 Worst States
No. 46: Louisiana
Louisiana ranked poorly in four areas: It has one of the highest infant mortality rates, most violent crimes per capita, the highest percentage of families in poverty, and one of the highest divorce rates. Louisiana also scored low in education and affordability, according to The Shreveport Times. But the state didn't rank low in every category; Louisiana did have the second-lowest child care costs of all 50 states, according to WalletHub.
No. 47: West Virginia
West Virginia ranked poorly in two main areas: It has one of the lowest median family salaries (adjusted for cost of living) and the fewest families with young kids. The state has a high infant-mortality rate, high unemployment rate, and a high percentage of families living in poverty, according to WCHS.
No. 48: Alabama
Alabama landed in 48th place on WalletHub's list for two main reasons: It has one of the highest percent of families in poverty and one of the highest infant mortality rates of all 50 states. But, like Louisiana, it also has one of the lowest child care costs for families. Still, Alabama's quality of life score is low overall; Last year, the southern state was considered the worst place to live, according to CNBC.
No. 49: Mississippi
Mississippi finds itself in the second-to-last spot on WalletHub's list because, among other factor, it has the highest percentage of families living in poverty, one of the highest divorce rates, and has the highest infant mortality rate. On the flip side, the state does have the lowest child care costs for families, according to WalletHub.
No. 50: New Mexico
For the second year in a row, WalletHub ranked New Mexico as the worst state to raise a family. Last year, the state ranked among the lowest for affordability, and education and child care, according to Fatherly. And, this year, the scores didn't really shift. New Mexico also one of the most violent crimes per capita rate, highest percentage of families in poverty, and one of the highest child care costs, according to WalletHub.
If nothing else, WalletHub's 2018 survey shows how much further certain states have to go in providing parents with the best opportunities to raise happy, healthy, and stable families. Hopefully, this list is a wake-up call for the bottom five states to make improvement in order to attract families to their cities.
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