Though state capitals are recognized as the hub of law making and bureaucracy, many capitals are thriving and livable metropolitan centers. On Tuesday, WalletHub composed a list of the best state capitols to live based on affordability, economic well-being, quality of education and health, and quality of life. Quality of life is measured by factors such as number of attractions, millennial newcomers, number of coffee shops and restaurants, traffic congestion, and walkability among other factors.
At the top of the overall list is Austin, Texas, which ranks nine out of 50 in affordability, second in economic well-being, seventh in quality of education and health, and sixteenth in quality of life. Following Austin in the top five overall ranking is Boise, Idaho; Bismark, North Dakota; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Madison, Wisconsin. Jackson, Missouri comes in last in the overall ranking, with 37 in affordability, 49 in economic well-being, 47 quality of education and health, and 49 in quality of life.
Coming in as the most affordable capital for housing is Jefferson City, Missouri, whereas Honolulu sits at the bottom of the affordable housing list. Six capitols tied for first in lowest unemployment rate, those capitals are Denver, Colorado; Honolulu, Hawaii; Boston; Helena, Montana; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Concord, New Hampshire. With the highest cost of living, Honolulu is the least affordable capital in the nation but also has the highest quality of life ranking. Juneau, Alaska has the highest median household income, which is adjusted for cost of living. Behind Juneau is Cheyenne, Wyoming; Bismarck, North Dakota; Austin, Texas; and Concord, New Hampshire.
Speaking to WalletHub, Abraham Unger, associate professor of government at Wagner College said, “The primary benefit of living in a state’s capital city is that a state capital is always undergoing economic development, such as the construction of new government buildings. That kind of ongoing development often brings with it agglomeration of other support services such as hospitality and professional services.”
Unger said that the top five indicators when evaluating state capitals to live in are, in order of importance, crime rate, employment variation outside of government, rate of growth of current residential development and of what kind, whether or not a competitive university is located there, and attractions and hospitality options.