Best States to Be Rich

Some states make it easier to build and protect wealth than others. This study looks at income, tax burden and crime statistics to determine which states are best for being rich.
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The study that MoneyRates conducts every year confirms that conditions for being rich vary greatly from one state to another, and that makes for some interesting contrasts.

To illustrate the point, consider the following insights from the study:

  • Earning in the top 10% of your peers will get you over $100,000 in annual income in ten states, but it’s good for just $68,240 in Mississippi.
  • Folks in seven states pay no state income tax; however, wealthy people in California have to contend with a tax structure that tops out at a 13.3% state income tax rate.
  • Location also makes a difference when it comes to protecting your property, as people in New Mexico are almost three times as likely as those in New Hampshire to be victims of property theft.

To weigh differences like this, MoneyRates ranked all 50 states in the following three categories:

  1. Income levels of top earners
  2. Reasonableness of state income taxes
  3. Safety from property crime

Sources included the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Tax Foundation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The average ranking across all three categories was used to determine the best states for being rich.

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10 Best States for Being Rich

Based on the most recent available data in each category, the following are the best states for being rich heading into 2019:

  1. Massachusetts
    This is a repeat win for Massachusetts, which also claimed the number one spot last year. The primary reason? High earners in Massachusetts do especially well. The annual wage earned by someone at the top 10% level in Massachusetts is $117,450, which is more than $20,000 better than the national average of $96,150 for top 10% wage earners.Massachusetts is also one of the safer states from property crime. Its rate of property crime is 1,437 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is the third lowest in the nation.

    When it comes to taxes, the highest state income tax bracket of 5.1% in Massachusetts is around the middle of the pack, so that neither particularly helps nor hurts its standing.

  2. New Hampshire
    This northern neighbor of Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest rate of property crime, with 1,381.8 annual occurrences per 100,000 inhabitants. It is also a little better than most states for high-earner income, and its top state tax rate is lower than most.
  3. Pennsylvania
    Another northeastern state took the third spot, placing just slightly behind New Hampshire. Pennsylvania has one of the ten lowest rates of property crime in the nation, and its top state income tax rate of 3.07% is among the lowest of those states that charge an income tax. Also, incomes for high earners in Pennsylvania are above those in most states.
  4. (tie) Illinois
    The fourth-place spot in this study is occupied by a three-way tie. One of those states, Illinois, didn’t place in the top ten in any single category but was better than most states in all three. That consistency carried it into the top ten overall.
  5. (tie) Michigan
    The next state in the log-jam in fourth place is Michigan. Parts of the state’s auto industry may have run into hard times, but the state still has some attractive features for the wealthy. Both the top state income tax bracket and the rate of property crime are among the lowest 25% in the nation. In a different way, those both help Michigan residents to hold on to their money, and there is also an opportunity to make a fair amount with a high-earner income level above that of most states.
  6. (tie) Virginia
    The third state in the three-way tie for fourth is Virginia. The standout feature for Virginia is that the high-earner income level is in the top ten nationally. The property crime rate is among the lowest 25%, while the top state tax rate is middle of the pack.

  1. Wyoming
    Wyoming is one of the seven states that charges no income tax, which represents an especially large savings for the wealthy. Wyoming also has a relatively low rate of property crime. The one drawback is that high-earner incomes are below those of most states.
  2. Texas
    Like Wyoming, Texas charges no state income tax, which is a big help in this study. It also ranks better than most states for high-earner income level, though its property crime rate is worse than in most states.
  3. New York
    As the home to Wall Street, New York might be expected to be among the top states for high-earner incomes, and indeed its $117,190 annual earnings at the top 10% level trails only that of Massachusetts. What may be more surprising to some is that New York State also benefits from having one of the five lowest rates of property crime in the nation.Of course, with two such outstanding attributes, there has to be a reason why New York didn’t place better than ninth, and that reason is taxes. New York’s top tax bracket of 8.82% is one of the ten highest in the nation.
  4. Rhode IslandThe third New England state to make the top ten, Rhode Island benefits primarily from having one of the ten lowest rates of property crime in the nation. It is also better than most states for high-earner income, while its top income tax rate is around the middle of the pack.

Don’t see your state in the top ten? On the complete list of all 50 states below, you’ll see how each state ranked and how your state stacks up.

Overall ranking:

State Overall Rank
Massachusetts 1
New Hampshire 2
Pennsylvania 3
Illinois 4
Michigan 4
Virginia 4
Wyoming 7
Texas 8
New York 9
Rhode Island 10
Maryland 11
Connecticut 12
Washington 13
New Jersey 14
Colorado 15
Alaska 16
North Dakota 17
Florida 18
Nevada 18
South Dakota 20
Ohio 21
Delaware 22
Vermont 23
Indiana 24
Arizona 25
North Carolina 25
Utah 27
California 28
Maine 29
Minnesota 29
Wisconsin 31
Georgia 32
Idaho 32
New Mexico 32
Tennessee 35
Nebraska 36
Kentucky 37
Missouri 37
Kansas 39
West Virginia 39
Oklahoma 41
Alabama 42
Hawaii 43
Mississippi 44
Iowa 45
Oregon 46
Montana 47
Louisiana 48
Arkansas 49
South Carolina 49

Rankings in all categories:

State Overall
Top Income Rank Tax Burden Rank Property Crime Safety Rank
 Alabama  42  36  18  43
 Alaska  16  9  1  49
 Arizona  25  22  13  41
 Arkansas  49  48  36  45
 California  28  3  50  27
 Colorado  15  10  14  33
 Connecticut  12  6  38  10
 Delaware  22  12  34  26
 Florida  18  33  1  28
 Georgia  32  21  30  39
 Hawaii  43  15  49  37
 Idaho  32  42  41  7
 Illinois  4  11  16  17
 Indiana  24  40  11  24
 Iowa  45  39  46  18
 Kansas  39  34  25  36
 Kentucky  37  45  30  19
 Louisiana  48  44  30  48
 Maine  29  37  40  4
 Maryland  11  4  26  22
 Massachusetts  1  1  23  3
 Michigan  4  20  12  12
 Minnesota  29  14  47  20
 Mississippi  44  50  18  34
 Missouri  37  28  28  38
 Montana  47  46  36  31
 Nebraska  36  35  35  23
 Nevada  18  29  1  32
 New Hampshire  2  17  18  1
 New Jersey  14  5  45  6
 New Mexico  32  25  15  50
 New York  9  2  43  5
 North Carolina  25  23  24  29
 North Dakota  17  31  8  21
 Ohio  21  26  17  25
 Oklahoma  41  38  18  40
 Oregon  46  16  48  44
 Pennsylvania  3  19  10  8
 Rhode Island  10  13  29  9
 South Carolina  49  43  39  47
 South Dakota  20  49  1  16
 Tennessee  35  41  9  42
 Texas  8  18  1  30
 Utah  27  24  18  35
 Vermont  23  27  44  2
 Virginia  4  7  26  11
 Washington  13  8  1  46
 West Virginia  39  47  33  15
 Wisconsin  31  32  42  13
 Wyoming  7  30  1  14
Richard Barrington, a Senior Financial Analyst at MoneyRates, brings over three decades of financial services expertise to the table. His insightful analyses and commentary have made him a sought-after voice in media, with appearances on Fox Business News, NPR, and quotes in major publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His proficiency is further solidified by the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, highlighting Richard’s depth of knowledge and commitment to financial excellence.
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