Emigration Capitals: The best and worst US states to relocate to

After being confined to our homes over the pandemic, it is no surprise that following the easing of restrictions, interest in relocating internationally is becoming increasingly popular. 

When it comes to the most popular expat destinations in the world, the USA is often cited among the most desirable countries. Google searches for ‘how to move to the US’ are up 40% since last year – showing the American dream is very much still alive. This got the team at My Baggage thinking: where in the US is the most attractive destination for those looking to relocate?

Mapped: The best and worst states to relocate to in the US

To determine this, My Baggage turned to data, comparing all 50 states using a range of indicators that directly impact the livability of a region. These metrics include; property prices, happiness, unemployment figures, hours of sunshine, cost of living, job prospects and net migration, to name a few.

Through analyzing and scoring each characteristic, each state was allocated a total ‘Relocation Index Score’, used to rank the best and worst locations in the USA to relocate to in 2021.

The five best US states to relocate to:

1. Nebraska is the best state to relocate to in the US

Out of all 50 states, the data showed Nebraska is the best US state to emigrate to, scoring the highest relocation score of 100 out of 100! 

The Cornhusker State is home to over 1.9 million inhabitants, and its population can expect to keep on rising. The state’s high quality of life, strong economy and resident happiness makes the region an attractive destination for those moving abroad, or from other states. 

Nebraska is the perfect state for people moving that are looking for work. The region has the joint lowest unemployment rate in the whole of the US at an impressive 3%, and an average annual income of $32,302. Besides farming, there are a vast number of industries in Nebraska, housing five of the Fortune 500 companies and having close to 40,000 job vacancies, creating lots of room for opportunities. 

Overall, these metrics paired with the state’s beautiful scenery and rich history make Nebraska a very attractive location to move to.  

2. Kansas ranks as the second-best state for those looking to migrate

Nebraska’s neighbouring state Kansas takes second place with a relocation score of 96 out of 100. The Sunflower State scored within the top 26 for each metric assessed – proving Kansas as an all rounder for those looking to move. 

Kansas offers affordable housing for those relocating. Out of all the 50 states, Kansas proudly holds the 8th cheapest average home value at $175,459, and also the 8th cheapest rent for a 1 or 2 bed apartment at an average of $639 per month. The state also offers new inhabitants a broad range of living options with suburbs, city or farm life available to create the perfect home.

Similar to Nebraska, Kansas also ties with the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3%, meaning job opportunities in the state are high.

3. Minnesota is the third most attractive state to emigrate to

The Midwestern state of Minnesota ranks as the third most attractive to relocate to with an index score of 92 out of 100. 

The state has over 5.7 million inhabitants and the second highest net international migration rate out of all the 50 states (this accounts for the people moving to Minnesota from another country, minus people moving to another country from that Minnesota).

Minnesota scored highly in many categories, especially in happiness and income levels. The state achieved the third highest happiness ranking at 67.26. This positively impacted its relocation index score, alongside the state achieving the 10th highest average annual income.

Minnesota also offers those looking to relocate the great outdoors. The state is home to 76 state parks and five national parks. Its many lakes have also given the state its nickname of “​Land of 10,000 Lakes”.

4. Iowa takes fourth place

The Midwestern state’s low unemployment rate, high levels of happiness, economic opportunity and low housing costs make Iowa a great option for those wanting to move to America. 

The Hawkeye State’s low cost of living is a big pull factor, boasting the 5th cheapest average home value at $164,388, whilst having an above average annual income at $32,176.

Its total relocation index score of 91 out of 100 makes Iowa the fourth best state to relocate to in the US. 

5. North Dakota comes in fifth

With a joint score of 91 out of 100, North Dakota is named the fifth best state to emigrate to. Despite having one of the smallest populations of only 770,026, the region offers great potential for those looking to relocate abroad – living up to its nickname the “Legendary State”.

North Dakota is known for its high quality of life and growing economy. The state ranked as the 4th happiest state. A testament to it’s friendly neighbourhoods and strong sense of community, directly impacting the livability of the region. 

The State also offers great job opportunities and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at only 4%. The State has seen a recent increase in manufacturing and technology industries emerging in the market, however oil, natural gas and farming still represent the States largest industries.

The five worst US states to relocate to:

1. Alaska crowned worst state to relocate to in the US

Out of the 50 states, Alaska is ranked as the worst state to emigrate to with a relocation index of only 38 out of 100. This title is given to the region due to its high cost of housing, lack of affordability, high rates of unemployment and low happiness scores. 

The northernmost and westernmost US state, Alaska also has only 2,061 hours of annual sunlight. This is the lowest out of all 50 states. The region’s diverse geography means different areas of the state can have extremely contrasting climates throughout the year, but the long winters and nights are a constant across the state. 

2. Oregon named the second-worst US state to migrate to

Located on the west coast above California and below Washington, the data reveals Oregon to be the second-worst state to relocate to in the US, ranking only 42 out of 100. 

Housing in Oregon is scarce and comes with a big price tag. The state has the 6th highest average home value out of the 50 states at $437,715. The state also ranks at the 6th darkest state in the USA, only having 2,341 hours of sunlight annually.

3. Delaware ranks in the bottom three

Despite the state’s scenic beauty, the high cost of living, increasing housing market prices, and moderate unemployment levels tarnish Delaware’s attractiveness.

The state has the 3rd lowest net international migration rates out of all states at 0.07. Delaware may have one of the smallest populations at only 990,334, but in terms of size the state has a high population density. Delaware also scores within the top 10 highest monthly rent at $995 for a 1 or 2 bed apartment, making it one of the least affordable locations of rentals in the US. 

With a relocation index score of 44 out of 100, Delaware is the third-worst state to relocate to in the US.

4. Louisiana ranks as the fourth-worst

Although an extremely vibrant and colorful state, 16 years on and parts of Louisiana are still recovering from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Katrina that hit back in 2005. 

The people of Louisiana are the 5th lowest earners in the USA, bringing home an average salary of £1,940 a month, but with unemployment in the state at 7%, there’s just under 324,000 people currently out of work. Meaning if you’re looking to move to Louisiana, you may find it hard to find a job at a decent salary, and with rent costing on average $711 a month, it’s not especially cheap! 

With a total index score of 48 out of 100, Louisiana is the fourth-worst state to relocate to. 

5. West Virginia named the fifth-worst state to move to

West Virginia is the fifth-worst state to relocate to with a total index score of 48 out of 100.

West Virginians on average are the second lowest earners in America, with an average yearly income of $26,480, meaning if you’re planning to move here you can only expect to take home around $1,835 a month. And whilst they say money isn’t the key to happiness, the state of West Virginia conveniently ranks as the unhappiest of them all. 

West Virginia also has the second lowest net international immigaration rate, making it a place that is heavily populated by neighbours born and bred in West Virginia. This of course comes with pros and cons, but if you’re looking for somewhere with a lot of population diversity, it may be best to look elsewhere! 

 

Hawaii is the happiest US state according to the data 

One of the metrics that contributed to each state’s overall relocation score was happiness. The secondary data used to depict this included factors such as emotional and physical wellbeing, work environment and community environment. The Covid-19 pandemic was also considered in each factor such as restrictions and positive testing rates.

Out of all the 50 states, Hawaii was revealed as the happiest. The Aloha state scored highest in physical well-being, as well as the community and environment variables. On the other end of the scale, the data named West Virginia as the least happy state which directly impacted its relocation score.

 

Housing in Hawaii is the most expensive

Property prices and renting costs were another factor considered in the index impacting the relocation scores. Assessing the average home value and the average monthly cost to rent a 1 or 2 bed apartment, states were then ranked and scored to see which was the most affordable. 

Out of all the states, Hawaii had the highest average costs for home value ($718,095) and renting a 1 or 2 bed apartment ($1,476 per month). West Virginia achieved the lowest average house cost at $116,902, while Arkansas had the lowest average cost to rent a 1 or 2 bed apartment at $613 per month. 

Connecticut has the highest average annual income

Census data was also used to analyse each state’s income levels, helping to understand the affordability of the regions. The average annual income of each state is representative of per capita in the past 12 months, these were ranked and scored to see which state has the highest average salary.

Connecticut residents came out on top with an average yearly income of $44,496, whereas Mississippi fell short at only $24,369 a year on average. Overall, considering all 50 states the average annual income in the US is $33,295. 

Women are most likely to get a date with men in California

Due to the likes of Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles and the wineries of Napa Valley, California is renowned to be one of the most glamorous states in the whole of America. It holds the highest population in the US and impressively ranks as the 5th happiest, making moving to California a highly ranked search term for those looking to emigrate to the golden state. 

California is unsurprisingly one of the most expensive places to live, with housing prices being the second highest in the US compared to being 11th with average earnings and third worst in unemployment percentage.

The data revealed their to be the highest gender disparity in California compared to any other US state. Where most states hold a 49 – 51% gender split, California is home to 58% of men compared to 42% of women. So, all of you looking to increase the chances of bagging a man, moving to California should be on your to do list! 

New York is a city of extremes 

Despite not even ranking in the top 40 for places to relocate to, many still set their sights on moving to the Big Apple. It is good to understand the pros and cons that come with moving to the most populous city in the US. 

Despite having the highest unemployment rate in the country at 11%, New York is known as the land of opportunity. Those in employment have on average the 6th highest yearly wage at $39,326. The city is also home to many leading brands, entrepreneurs and 65 of the Fortune 500 companies – the highest concentration in America.

Moving to New York can be overwhelming as there are hundreds of neighborhoods scattered throughout five very diverse boroughs. Take the time to get to know the different areas and which suits you. Once you have picked your neighborhood this New York Moving Guide can help on how to relocate your belongings.

 

10 top tips for relocating to the USA

Follow these expert tips to make moving to the states as hassle-free as possible:

  • Start planning as far in advance as possible.
  • Make a packing checklist to stay on top of what you need to do and pack, and make sure you don’t include prohibited items. Also only pack what your suitcases or cardboard box can safely hold. Use clothes to space items out and spread heavy items, such as books across the whole package. When shipping internationally it is advised to package up each individual item in some form of protection such as bubble wrap or newspaper etc. 
  • Get started on getting your emigration papers sorted as early as possible.
  • Set up a US bank account as early as possible.
  • Get your healthcare in the USA sorted early to avoid any problems.
  • Keep a record and stay on top of your finances – save, save, save!
  • Sell/donate goods that you don’t really need.
  • Do plenty of research on your new area (social media is a great tool!)
  • If you’re moving for a job – don’t be afraid to ask your employer for help.
  • Get a quote from My Baggage in advance and factor this into your moving costs.

Need help moving? 

Now you know the best states to relocate to according to data, you may want to consider the logistics of how to move to America.

When you are ready to move, My Baggage can assist emigration from 200+ countries and regions worldwide. Our convenient and reliable international door-to-door luggage shipping could help you to save time and money on transporting your worldly possessions to the USA. 

 

Methodology

In order to determine the best states to emigrate to in the US, My Baggage analyzed relevant living factors from all 50 states. 

The same metrics from each state were analyzed. This included property prices, happiness, annual income, unemployment figures, hours of sunshine, cost of living, job prospects and net migration. 

Each of these data values were compared across locations and then given a corresponding score. The scores were added up and scaled to produce a final US Relocation Index Score for each state. The index score is out of a total of 100.

Job vacancies in Nebraska are found on NEworkd.nebraska.gov.