While travel plans are being impacted right now, we still want to satisfy your wanderlust. We’ve just put together a list of the best state capitals to live in this year, rating them all from 50 to 1. Cities across a wide spectrum of categories, including affordability, education, economic well-being and quality of life. A number of state capitals are bustling, historic cities that can be the heart and soul of the states they serve. But while some are vibrant cultural hubs with complex rhythms, others may be very isolated and mundane or literally unaffordable.
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton is the capital city of New Jersey. It’s one of the most diverse cities in the country. Still it ranks on the list as the worst capital in the world. It has a very high crime rate that is well above the national average. It also has one of the lowest rate of economic well-being in the country and is one of the least balanced in terms of affordability. If you happen to be in this least-favored capital city, then a visit to Cadwalader Park can be a treat.
Carson City, Nevada
Carson City is another capital city that has not performed well on our list. Not only is attractiveness practically non-existent here but its standard of education, wellbeing and quality of life ranked among the lowest of all state capitals. The city offers a much more comfortable, dull pace. That said it’s got some stuff going for it. It is home to one of the most diverse ethnic and economic groups in the world, and the median household income is around $52,000, which is just short of the national average of $55,000.
Augusta was one of the first settled cities in America. Yeah, Augusta is a state capital, but it looks much more like a tiny town in the USA, making it one of the sleepiest capital cities on this list. It’s another one that hasn’t cracked the top 40 on either the WalletHub or the RentLingo lists. This is because it has earned poor scores for affordability, economic well-being and quality of life.
Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Settled in 1635, it is home to some of the country’s oldest buildings, parks, and the oldest newspaper, the Hartford Courant. In fact, after the Civil War, Hartford was the richest city in the world. Today, though, it’s lying on the other side of the continuum. Its median household income is around $34,000, and it happens to be one of the lowest-cost capitals in the country..
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana’s capital is situated on the banks of the Mississippi River and is renowned for its competitive labor market, especially in healthcare and engineering, as well as for its diverse and growing population. Today, it is low on the list of capitals due to its high crime rate, low median household income of $41,000, and comparatively low education.
Dover is one of the oldest significant cities in America, founded by William Penn in 1683. Later, the city continued to play strategic locations in both the revolutionary and civil wars. Today, it is considered a diverse community with decent public schools but provides costly housing options, a higher level of crime, and a small job market.
Jackson was called to General Andrew Jackson as a way to honor him for his involvement in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. Jackson is one of the nation’s most affordable cities with a median rent of $824 and a median home value of $90,800. However, its financial well-being is one of the poorest in the country, with a median household income of $37,000. As a result, its quality of life rating is also very poor.
Jefferson City, Missouri
Jefferson City is situated on the northern edge of the Ozark Plateau, along the banks of the Missouri River. It’s hard to find a capital city that’s cheaper than Jefferson City. The median rent is $621 a month, while the median home rental is $145,000. Of course, a lack of charm or fun things to do always come with affordability.
Established in 1786, Frankfort is a small town with a number of less than 28,000. Frankfort is a very pretty town, marked by historic red brick exteriors, the Old State Capitol, two breweries, and a lovely view of the Kentucky River. In fact, it ranked well in most of the WalletHub categories, with the exception of the standard of education and health rating, which ranked it at No. 42 on our ranking.
Tallahassee is generally considered to be one of the best places to live in Florida, with an urban and suburban atmosphere, home to several parks and highly regarded school systems. Today, it is the key hub of commerce and agriculture in the Big Bend area of Florida and Southwest Georgia. It is home to a variety of colleges, including Florida State University and Florida A&M.
Charleston, West Virginia
While it may be one of the best places to live in the state of West Virginia, one of the lowest ratings on this list was assigned to Charleston. It has an exceptionally high crime rate, far higher than the national average, with robbery almost double that of the rest of the world. And the annual household income is about $41,000. Today, Charleston prides itself on the diversity of its cultural opportunities.
Bismarck, North Dakota
Affordable and charming, Bismarck, North Dakota, is known for its epic long winters and short, rural summers. Downtown is full of shops and restaurants, but otherwise, it’s a sleepy, quiet place. So, how precisely did Bismarck reach the top 40? It’s the most inexpensive capital city in the world. This is because the living costs are so low and the wage is relatively high compared to the national median.
Pierre, South Dakota
Pierre was established in 1880 as a trade route, which quickly became a thriving city. Today, it’s still fairly remote because it doesn’t serve, and That said one of the best parts of Pierre is certainly getting there. The city sits on the Missouri River and tourists approach the Native American Scenic Byway. Along the way, prepare yourself for beautiful views of the landscape and shots of the river.
Juneau is the second-largest city in the province, after Anchorage. Unlike most other cities in the world, there are no highways linking it to the rest of the nation. The only way to get to the city from the mainland of Alaska is by plane or by sea. It’s also one of the few remaining areas in the nation to have a large Native American presence, and it’s home to several different Tlingit clans.
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia is one of the nicest spots to live in states, thanks to its high degree of diversity, good public schools, access to the outdoors, and nice weather all year round. In reality, the top 20 of WalletHub’s quality of life rankings cracked. Columbia’s median rent is $910, and the median home value is $173,000, making it an attractive capital city.
The biggest city in the Hawaiian archipelago, Honolulu, is located on the island of Oahu and is the gateway to the rest of the islands. It’s a holiday capital with high-end hotels, music, food, and ancient rituals. It is also a center for business and military security. Honolulu also benefits from an array of outdoor sports, great weather, diversity, and a strong emphasis on health and fitness.
Forget about the California Gold Rush. Did you know that Helena, Montana, was one of the largest gold mining cities in the country? In fact, more than $3 billion worth of gold was mined from the land around Helena by the late 1800s. Today, it’s a place that enjoys the beautiful landscapes, with plenty of recreational possibilities, from mountain biking and fishing to skiing.
Phoenix isn’t just the political clout of Arizona, but also a cultural center. From performing arts venues such as the Phoenix Symphony Hall, the Arizona Opera Center, and the Orpheum Theater to hundreds of museums and fantastic examples of architecture, there’s a justification why Phoenix is one of the tourist capitals of the Southwest.
Albany, New York
Originally inhabited by Dutch colonizers in the early 17th century, Albany became a hub of travel and trade due to its central location between the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. Though financial well-being in New York City is at a downside, Albany is by no means void of things to do. It’s the home of the State Museum of New York.
Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines is the most populated city in the state of Iowa and a central destination for U.S. insurance companies. It is also a significant capital city in politics today, as it is the site of the very first congress. But even more so, Des Moines is a center for aspiring entrepreneurs and has a flourishing local art scene. Plus, this capital city is hosting the Iowa State Fair.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Located on the banks of the River Arkansas, Little Rock was established in 1821. Today, it has a total of just under 200,000 people and is one of the leading contributors, economic and political centers in the South. Little Rock is one of the most sustainable cities in the nation, with one of the lowest median rents in the country at $850, but it also has one of the lowest quality of life rankings.
Topeka, Kansas, located along the Kansas River, played a crucial role in the Western revolution, first serving as a stop along the Oregon Trail. While Topeka does not have a lot in the way of expression, there is a growing Arts & Entertainment area known as the NOTO Arts Center, which is proving to be the cultural business district, with shops, restaurants, antique shops, and more.
In 1861, Montgomery was selected as the capital of the Confederate States of America, which eventually moved to Richmond, Virginia. Today, the city is known for its revitalization programs, colleges, and historic sites, such as the Civil Rights Trail, the Shakespeare Festival of Alabama, and the Montgomery Fine Arts Museum. It’s also an amazingly inexpensive city with a median rent keeping of $867.
Because of the advantageous location of Harrisburg in south-central Pennsylvania, it has played a critical role in many parts of American history. At the turn of the 21st century, the city of Harrisburg experienced a revitalization, making it a venue for concerts, nightclubs, jazz festivals, and public art exhibitions. It has two major performance centers—the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts and the Forum.
The Lansing or Mid-Michigan region is recognized for its academic, historical and political functions. Nearby Michigan State University is a community center with 50,000 students, educational colleges, medical schools and law schools. As one of the country’s most inexpensive capitals, the median rent is $807, while the median home value is $80,000. Visitors would want to check out the Old Town area and the Zoo of Potter Park.
St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Paul was founded as a transport and trade site on the banks of the Mississippi River. It also has a major port along the Minnesota River and directly links with Minneapolis. St. Paul, along with Minneapolis, makes up what is known as the Twin City. St. Paul is a fantastic family capital, with a wide range of diversity and an over-average value for the cost of living. And an education system above average. Rent is slightly just below the national median, while homeownership is slightly above that.
Oklahoma City is a familiar pass-through for passengers exploring the famous Route 66. Known to locals as OKC, it’s one of America’s cowboy cities. That’s because it has one of the biggest livestock markets and is particularly well known for its exciting horse shows.
Indianapolis happens to be one of the best cities in the world. Its economy relies on banking, insurance, manufacturing, education, healthcare and other businesses. It also has the nation’s largest set of landmarks dedicated to veterans and war heroes outside Washington, D.C. Indianapolis is an inexpensive place to live, with a median rent of $865 and a median home value of $129,000.
Inspired by pictures of rolling plains, looming mountains, and leathery cowboys, Cheyenne is one of America’s original grasslands cities. Established in 1867, it seemed to spring up suddenly with the building of the Union Pacific Railroad. Nowadays, it’s a beautiful capital city with plenty of museums and entertainment.
Springfield’s most famous crowning achievement is his former resident, Abraham Lincoln, who considered the city home before he relocated to the White House. When it came to affordability, Springfield is one of the country’s top capital cities. Rent is extremely low relative to the national median, at $789 a month. The estimated household income is already more than $53,000.
Lincoln was classified by the United States as a refugee-friendly city. In the 1970s, the Department of State accepted many refugees from Iraq and the Middle East, and in the 2018-19 school year, the city’s public education system sponsored 3,000 students from 150 countries. It’s very diverse, with large communities of Vietnamese, Sudanese, Yazidi, and Burma calling Lincoln home.
Since Oregon became a state in 1851, Salem has been its political seat. It became official state capital when Oregon became a state in 1859. Today, it is the second-largest city in the state and is located in the middle of the Willamette Valley (Oregon wine country). It also has three colleges and enjoys a high degree of economic well-being, with a median household income of over $53,000.
The present town of Richmond dates back to 1737 and has been a significant location in American history, both throughout the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Today, the economy is fuelled by government, law, and finance. Although Richmond is far from the most affordable capital in the state and has a relatively low education ranking, it offers its residents a high quality of life.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is considered a major but intact capital city—a secret gem that people are slowly exploring. It may be because of its proximity to an unprecedented nature or because it preserves a small-town atmosphere. Whatever the cause, those who are attracted to Salt Lake City enjoy cafes, yoga studios, up-and-coming organic food, the art scene, skiing, and hiking. Nearby Park City, too is not disappointed when it comes to mountain cities.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is one of America’s greatest capital cities, with a mix of cultures and backgrounds from native America to Mexico and Spain. Today, it’s a center of art, music, and food. Santa Fe offers its people a strong quality of life, and tourists can see why, with its beautiful weather, a high focus on fitness and health, and a wide variety of recreational activities.
Atlanta is among the largest cities in the South, renowned for its music, modern art, greenery, and culinary. Visitors love its Centennial Olympic Park, built for the 1996 Olympics, which is placed close to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.
With a vibrant dining, technological, and creative scene, Columbus is the capital of young professionals. Thanks to the existence of Ohio State University, it’s not a very costly city either. The median rent is $928 and the median household income is $51,612.
Concord, New Hampshire
The town of Concord has been settled for thousands of years. It’s a peaceful, tidy city, controlled by the State House. Residents of Concord put a focus on health and wellness, as well as on nature, which is why it is an over-average place to raise a family. But the cost of living is high, with a median rent of $1,052, compared to a median household income of $62,967.
Did you guys know that Boise is among the country’s most trendy cities? Downtown Boise is a remarkably urban hub with high-end restaurants, bars, and a lively arts community. It also has one of the largest Basque communities outside Spain. Boise is now one of the best major cities for outdoorsy types, with a wide network of nature trails, woods, and streams offering some of the best whitewater rafting in the world.
Montpelier might be a capital city, but by any other measure, it is basically a small town. It is home to less than 10,000 people, making it the least populous capital of the world. Even, people enjoy it for that very reason. Although the weather is not perfect all year round, it’s a city that values the outdoors, health, and fitness, and its downtown has a good selection of small restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Olympia is one of the best places to live in Washington State, due to its combination of urban and suburban landscapes and a high percentage of young professionals. Olympia has some of the greatest state schools in the world, as well as a family-friendly culture. It values outdoor sports, health, and fitness, and has an over-average job market.
The hub of California’s political backbone, Sacramento has become one of the biggest cities in the state to call home for a decent quality of life. It has fantastic weather, access to outdoor sports, a high focus on health and fitness, and a wide range of activities. But this is still California, which means it’s an expensive place to live, with a median rent of $1,179.
Providence, Rhode Island
One of the oldest cities in America, Providence was established in 1636 and was one of the earliest cities in the country to experience the Industrial Revolution. It is also a center of education, with seven institutions of higher education. It’s the third most populous city in New England. While Providence has one of the lowest affordability ratings, it has one of the highest quality of life ranks.
Nicknamed “Music City,” Nashville is also regarded as the “Songwriting Capital of the World.” It was built on the Cumberland River in 1779 which has been a significant railroad hub throughout history. It is also home to many national universities as well as country music studios, live music halls, and restaurants.
Over the last few years, the word has come out more about Denver, and the community is simply growing. In reality, it’s one of the largest rising cities in the United States. And why should it not be that way? It has creative dining, a vibrant arts scene, a thriving nightlife and serves as the gateway to some of the best skiing and hiking in the country.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, along with Chapel Hill and Durham, compensates for what is known as the Research Triangle because of the vast number of technical and scholarly institutions in the area. And there are many museums, galleries, restaurants, and live music venues that make it a very cool location. In reality, its Museum of Natural Science is the largest museum in the Southeast.
Annapolis is situated at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, rendering it one of the country’s maritime capitals. It’s a busy port city today, as well as home to the U.S. Naval Academy, established in 1845, which occupies the site of the old fortress of Severn. Life in Annapolis is all about water, which means that people care deeply about being outside and preserving health and fitness.
World-famous music festivals like South by Southwest and Austin City Limits draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, but it’s the talent to play every night in the city’s local music venues that won it the designation “Live Music Capital of the World.”
Madison is yet another gem throughout the list. Tucked between the lakes of Mendota and Monona, it is considered to be an ecologically responsible area. Plus, it has a friendly community and a lot of focus on the great outdoors, gay-friendly, huge amount parks and a university environment thanks to a handful of colleges in the area.
From the cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood to the charming coastline, fancy hotels, trendy restaurants and a college environment, Boston is an educated, cosmopolitan, but noticeably elegant capital city. Not only is Boston the No. 1 capital city in America, but it also happens to be one of the country’s biggest tourist spots.
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