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These are the best places to live in America in 2019

CNBC logo CNBC 6 days ago Scott Cohn

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If you could live anywhere in America, where would that be? By the numbers, these are the states that offer the best quality of life. That's because they offer everything people yearn for: job opportunities, affordable housing, great schools, a low cost of living, affordable health care and a clean environment.

Good quality of life is also good business. What better selling point could there be for a company looking to attract the best talent than to offer a great location for employees to settle down and raise a family. In this tight labor market, companies are increasingly realizing how important this is for their strategic growth plans. It is why Quality of Life is one of the key categories worth 300 out of 2,500 points in CNBC's annual America's Top States for Business 2019 rankings. We use hard data to evaluate all 50 states as places to live — factors including crime rates, local attractions, environmental quality and inclusiveness as measured by legal protections written into state laws.

Here are the states that lead the rankings for being the best places to live in the U.S. this year.

10. Massachusetts

a bridge over a body of water with a city in the background: People running near Boston Harbor and Financial District at sunrise in Boston, Massachusetts. © Provided by CNBC LLC People running near Boston Harbor and Financial District at sunrise in Boston, Massachusetts.

Fewer than 3% of residents in the Bay State are without health insurance. That is the lowest uninsured rate in the nation, and it helps explain why this is one of America's healthiest states. But that is not the only reason Massachusetts is a great place to live. Local attractions abound, from historic Boston and scenic Cape Cod in the east, to the beautiful Berkshires in the west. Boston prides itself as the Cradle of Liberty, and strong legal protections help ensure that freedom in Massachusetts applies to all. But Boston is also the cradle of some polluted air, hurting the state's environmental quality.

2019 Quality of Life score: 217 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: B-)

Strengths: Health, attractions, inclusiveness

Weakness: Air quality

2018 Quality of Life rank: 10

9. Utah

a canyon with Arches National Park in the background: Hiker in Arches Park Moab, Utah. © Provided by CNBC LLC Hiker in Arches Park Moab, Utah.

The Beehive State gets its nickname from the industriousness of its citizens. Utahans not only work hard, they apparently love their work. According to Gallup's 2018 Wellbeing Index, nowhere in the continental United States do people feel better about their careers. As busy as people are in Utah, they still find time to take care of themselves. They exercise frequently, and obesity rates are low. But air quality leaves a bit to be desired.

2019 Quality of Life score: 219 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: B-)

Strengths: Health, well-being

Weakness: Air quality

2018 Quality of Life rank: 12

7. (tie) Montana

a man holding a dog posing for the camera: Trail running in Big Sky. © Provided by CNBC LLC Trail running in Big Sky.

They call Montana Big Sky Country because all those unobstructed views really do make the sky seem bigger. And it turns out that big sky — and everything beneath it — contains the cleanest air in the nation according to the American Lung Association. Montana is a healthy, inclusive state, and crime is low. The state is lacking somewhat in attractions, at least in terms of places frequented by tourists. But if you are looking for breathtaking views, majestic mountains and crystal-clear waters — oh, and that big sky — this may be the place for you.

2019 Quality of Life score: 221 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: B)

Strengths: Air quality, health

Weakness: Attractions

2018 Quality of Life rank: 7

7. (tie) Colorado

a man riding skis down a snow covered mountain: Skiing the Rockies in Colorado © Provided by CNBC LLC Skiing the Rockies in Colorado

The Centennial State is home to rich natural beauty, vibrant cities, and robust inclusiveness provisions firmly enshrined in state law. Coloradans are healthy. Only 22.6% of the population is obese, the lowest rate in the nation. Air quality could be better, and the crime rate is slightly worse than the national average.

2019 Quality of Life score: 221 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: B)

Strengths: Inclusiveness, health, attractions

Weakness: Air quality

2018 Quality of Life rank: 9

5. (tie) Washington

a person standing next to a tree: A couple enjoy an extended hike in the Pacific Northwest © Provided by CNBC LLC A couple enjoy an extended hike in the Pacific Northwest

The Evergreen State is among America's healthiest states, and its people are the most physically active. Who would not want to get out and enjoy a state with such natural beauty and so much to do. Washington prides itself on inclusiveness, with strong protections built into state law. Crime is low, but air quality may leave something to be desired.

2019 Quality of Life score: 232 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: B)

Strengths: Health, inclusiveness, attractions

Weakness: Air quality

2018 Quality of Life rank: 5 (tie)

5. (tie) New Hampshire

a large waterfall next to a rock: White Mountains, New Hampshire © Provided by CNBC LLC White Mountains, New Hampshire

With its famous motto, "Live Free or Die," it stands to reason that the Granite State is among America's most inclusive. Freedom also includes security. New Hampshire enjoys the third lowest violent crime rate in the nation. The state also boasts the nation's lowest child poverty rate. On the other hand, air quality can suffer, partly due to the state's proximity to Boston. And the quiet life here means New Hampshire can sometimes lack things to do.

2019 Quality of Life score: 232 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: B)

Strengths: Inclusiveness, crime rate

Weaknesses: Air quality, attractions

2018 Quality of Life rank: 5 (tie)

4. North Dakota

a train traveling over a bridge: The International Peace Garden along the US-Canada border in North Dakota. The central division divides Canada (right) from the USA (left). © Provided by CNBC LLC The International Peace Garden along the US-Canada border in North Dakota. The central division divides Canada (right) from the USA (left).

The Peace Garden State derives its nickname from the International Peace Garden straddling the U.S.-Canadian border, a project that has its roots at the International Gardeners Association convention exactly 90 years ago. But the term "peace garden" could also refer to the idyllic lifestyle in this state. The crime rate is low, the population is healthy and happy, and anti-discrimination laws are stronger than most. But other than the aforementioned International Peace Garden, attractions can be sparse.

2019 Quality of Life score: 235 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: B+)

Strengths: Well-being, air quality, inclusiveness

Weakness: Attractions

2018 Quality of Life rank: 4

3. Minnesota

a person is cross country skiing in the snow: Couple cross country skiing on a north woods trail. © Provided by CNBC LLC Couple cross country skiing on a north woods trail.

One of the many features of the North Star state is what the locals call "Minnesota Nice," which is exactly what it sounds like. Minnesotans are welcoming and inclusive, as evidenced by thorough legal protections against discrimination. Crime rates are low, the population is healthy, and the air is clean. We don't factor weather into our rankings because it is too subjective. But it is worth pointing out that while winters can be brutal here, Minnesotans not only adapt to the frigid weather; they flourish in it.

2019 Quality of Life score: 259 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: A-)

Strengths: Inclusiveness, health, air quality, crime rate

Weakness: Attractions

2018 Quality of Life rank: 3

2. Vermont

a man standing on a lush green field: Man hiking in Vermont during Autumn © Provided by CNBC LLC Man hiking in Vermont during Autumn

The Green Mountain State has the nation's second-lowest crime rate, inclusive state laws, and a healthy population. Vermont rode those attributes to a first-place finish in Quality of Life in 2018. The state still offers an enviable quality of life, but it slipped just enough in terms of air quality and its citizens' perceived well-being in 2019 to drop out of the top spot. Vermont's one discernible weakness is the fact that it offers few popular tourist attractions, but many people here would consider that a positive.

2019 Quality of Life score: 262 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: A-)

Strengths: Crime rate, health, inclusiveness

Weakness: Attractions

2018 Quality of Life rank: 1

1. Hawaii

a man sitting at a table in front of a lake: Woman Kayaking, Oahu, Hawaii © Provided by CNBC LLC Woman Kayaking, Oahu, Hawaii

How could anything beat the Aloha State as a place to live? A jump in the crime rate allowed Vermont to overtake Hawaii in the category last year, but that proved temporary, and the state is back in its rightful state at the top of the Quality of Life list. Hawaii is America's healthiest state, with fewer preventable hospitalizations than anyplace else, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The air is the cleanest of any state. Hawaii offers an abundance of attractions. How could more than 3 million international visitors per year be wrong?

2019 Quality of Life score: 297 out of 325 points (Top States Grade: A+)

Strengths: Health, well-being, air quality

Weakness: Crime rate

2018 Quality of Life rank: 2

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