California is one of the best states to live in, in part, because of its income growth

With around 8.4% of Americans having moved last year, which is a historic low, WalletHub today released its report on 2022’s Best States to Live in.  California ranked first in the number of restaurants it has per capita.

To help Americans settle down in the best and most affordable place possible, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 52 key indicators of livability. They range from housing costs and income growth to education rate and quality of hospitals.

Living Conditions in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 50th – Housing Costs
  • 49th – Homeownership Rate
  • 27th – % of Population in Poverty
  • 1st – Income Growth
  • 21st – % of Insured Population
  • 33rd – % of Adults in Fair or Poor Health
  • 7th – Avg. Weekly Work Hours
  • 1st – Restaurants per Capita
  • 12th – Percentage of Residents 12+ Who Are Fully Vaccinated

Expert Commentary

What steps should a person take to determine if an area is right for them to move to?

“First, try visiting the area in person, ideally multiple times. If there is time, try visiting in different seasons, different days of the week, and different times of the day. Second, try talking to locals, maybe at a restaurant, small café, or grocery store. Third, read up on the area based on multiple venues to obtain a diversity of viewpoints.”
— Katrin B. Anacker – Professor, George Mason University

“The critical dimensions begin with assessing a household’s needs. If there are school-age children then the quality of schools should be an important consideration…If parents work outside of the home, then transportation should be an important matter…Climate matters influence many people: but again, hot and cold climates each have liabilities. Some mid-Atlantic and West Coast locations are more moderate than others – and come with their own issues…Crime and safety issues vary more by neighborhood than city or metro levels and are irrelevant at the state level…At the neighborhood level, consider convenient access to local services – supermarkets, pharmacies, doctors…Consider recreational and cultural opportunities – ranging from state parks to museums, etc.”
— Robert J.S. Ross, Ph.D. – Vice-President, Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium; Emeritus Professor, Clark University

What are the most important financial factors to consider when deciding where to live? 

“One financial consideration that many people fail to take into consideration in choosing where to live is the cost of their commute. We become complacent about long drives when gas is cheap. Then when gas prices spike, we find we can no longer afford to drive long distances, yet we have no alternative means to get to work and other daily needs. The housing may be more expensive in walkable neighborhoods or close to transit and employment centers, but if you factor in transportation costs it may be more affordable to live in neighborhoods where you are not dependent on your car. If you can live as a one-car family or get rid of your car altogether, you will save tens of thousands of dollars annually!”
— Kit Krankel McCullough – Lecturer IV, University of Michigan

“Like most things in the US, there are inequalities as to who gets to decide where they live – education and income are the largest indicators of whether or not you move. Even if you want to move, if you can’t afford the cost of movers or the deposit on a new apartment or the cost of daycare without grandma and grandpa’s help, even if employment opportunities are elsewhere, you can be stuck in place. As such, the cost of housing is perhaps the most important factor for families, especially as we reckon with an ongoing housing crisis and record-high inflation.”
— Valerie Stahl – Assistant Professor, San Diego State University

What can state policymakers do to attract and retain new residents?

“Support the creation of affordable housing, including a permissive policy on local rent control. Support public transportation to relieve traffic congestion. Support parks and cultural institutions at all levels. Create and enforce laws that protect fundamental rights – to be free of discrimination, to freely associate, including forming and joining labor unions, and to speak about current or historical matters without fear of censorship or retribution.”
— Robert J.S. Ross, Ph.D. – Vice-President, Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium; Emeritus Professor, Clark University

“Right now, practically the entire country is in a housing crisis. Individuals are being priced out of high-cost states like California and heading to lower-cost ones like Arizona and Texas, which is, in turn, driving up the cost of living for long-time residents there. First and foremost, states absolutely need to play a role in promoting the construction of truly affordable housing – meaning housing that is deeply subsidized for working folks. This would mean promoting the production of housing, but not simply loosening regulations to promote market-rate housing, which reproduces inequality and often benefits corporate landlords and higher-income folks. More equitable policies could involve robust state and local solutions like adopting rent controls, investing in successful community-based housing models like community land trusts, and promoting first-time homeownership programs geared towards Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) that have long been excluded from homebuying.”
— Valerie Stahl – Assistant Professor, San Diego State University

For the full report, please click here.






Image Sources

  • California Republic: Shutterstock