18 Best U.S. States for Living, Working (and Playing)

Looking for the best place in the U.S. that offers the perfect blend of vibrant economic opportunities, diverse cultural experiences, and breathtaking natural beauty? Then check out these 18 states that provide an ideal backdrop for living, working, and playing.


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According to Forbes, Colorado has ‘a four-season climate while boasting rugged mountains and desert towns’ as well as a ‘casual culture, economic opportunities and endless outdoor activities.’ Colorado residents are often noted as having a high quality of life, and with strong tech, aerospace, and renewable energy sectors, there’s ample opportunity for employment in this state.


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Washington is home to a number of tech powerhouses and has an abundance of career opportunities within this sector. City-living in places such as Seattle offers a lively music scene, vibrant culture, and diverse culinary experiences. This state is also rich in natural beauty, including the rainforests of Olympic National Park and the peaks of the Cascade Range.


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According to The Guardian, California’s economy ranks 5th highest in the world, thriving in tech, entertainment, and agriculture. Aside from job opportunities, the state offers a diverse landscape, including beaches, forests, mountains, and deserts, as well as a rich culture and vibrant community.


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With major industries in energy, agriculture, and tech, Texas has a booming economy and a wide range of jobs on offer. With a rich history, the state has a unique blend of cultural influence, creating a diverse place to live. It also offers a lower cost of living compared to other major states, making it an attractive place for families and professionals alike.


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Renowned for its world-class educational facilities, including Harvard and MIT, this state is a leader in research and education. It also has a strong economy and career opportunities, particularly in tech, healthcare, and biotech. This state is rich in history and offers residents a wealth of landmarks and historical sites.


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With a warm, sunny climate, Florida offers residents the opportunity for a laidback, outdoor lifestyle. World-famous attractions, including Walt Disney World and Miami Beach, have tourists flocking to the state, bringing a strong economy with them. Residents also benefit from no state income tax, bringing the cost of living down and making it an attractive location for businesses.

New York

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A cultural center, New York City is a global hub for finance, fashion, and entertainment, where you’ll find an abundance of career opportunities. The city is also home to world-class cuisine, arts, and architecture. Beyond the city, however, you’ll find scenic beauty across the state, from the Adirondack Mountains to the vineyards of the Finger Lakes.


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Being so close to the nation’s capital of Washington D.C., Virginia offers some interesting career opportunities, particularly in the government and defense sectors. This state is also rich in American history and home to a number of significant landmarks. Outdoor enthusiasts will also love the wide range of landscapes Virginia has to offer.

North Carolina

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With world-class universities, North Carolina is an innovative state boasting an expanding economy. It attracts professionals in various fields, and the North Carolina Department of Commerce lists important industries for the state as biotech, aerospace, transportation, and tech. Beyond this, the state offers a diverse landscape for outdoor activities, including the Appalachian Mountains and the Outer Banks.


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With a beautiful natural landscape covering rugged coastlines, forests, and mountains, Oregon is a great location for those who love the outdoors, and the state is recognized for its commitment to sustainability and conservation. Innovative and diverse, Oregon also boasts a thriving tech scene and vibrant arts community.


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Recently ranked as the 10th best state to live in, CBS News said that Minnesota ‘graded highly in education, health and quality of life.’ The state also has a stable job market, with key industries including healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture. You’ll also find an abundance of lakes and parks for outdoor activities.


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Famed for its stunning natural beauty, including no less than five national parks, Utah is a fantastic place for outdoor enthusiasts. The state is also known for its family-friendly feel and has great career opportunities within its thriving tech economy. 


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Rich in culture and history, you’ll find Georgia to be home to a vibrant music scene, diverse cuisine, and a range of events. The state also has a variety of natural landscapes for outdoor activities, including mountains and coastal plains. Finally, it’s a growing economic center thriving in tech, media, and logistics.


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Home to the global city of Chicago, known for a vibrant arts scene, diverse cuisine, and notable architecture, Illinois also has a wealth of cultural institutions and sports teams catering to every interest. The state also offers some fantastic career opportunities, particularly in the finance and industrial sectors.


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Michigan, a leader in automotive manufacturing, was ranked 7th best cost of living in the US by CNBC in 2023. On top of this, the state offers a unique geography and unparalleled access to the Great Lakes, perfect for a range of outdoor activities. 


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Known for natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s landscape offers breathtaking scenery as well as a deep cultural history reflected in its art, architecture, and festivals. The state’s economy is on the rise too, with growth in the tech, healthcare, and renewable energy sectors.


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Steeped in American history and home to landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, this state offers residents a diverse economy, particularly in manufacturing, finance, and healthcare. It is also home to a variety of scenic beauties, including the Appalachian Mountains.


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Famed for its strong agricultural sector, and particularly the production of cheeses, Wisconsin also offers a diverse economy with strengths in manufacturing, healthcare, and tech. With numerous lakes and forests, the state is a great place for all outdoor enthusiasts.

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