Maciamo

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Over the years I have created dozens of maps of Europe to help visualise the cultural, political, socio-economic, legal or lifestyle differences between countries. I thought it would be interesting to make similar maps for the United States, using the same scales and colours to facilitate comparisons. It's not always easy to find data for individual U.S. states, so I wasn't able to make maps such as beef, fish, olive oil, sugar, tea and coffee consumptions by state.

Here is what I have done so far:

Legal maps of the USA

Cultural & religious maps of the USA

Health & lifestyle maps of the USA

Ecological maps of the USA
 
Makes me wonder why I live in New York State. :)

Wait, I know...availability of Italian foodstuffs! I'm only partly kidding.
 
Makes me wonder why I live in New York State. :)

Wait, I know...availability of Italian foodstuffs! I'm only partly kidding.

If we look at the overall data, New York is one of the best states in which to live, along with Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, Colorado and California.

The worst state is almost always West Virginia. It is typically followed by Mississippi, then states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma...
 
If we look at the overall data, New York is one of the best states in which to live, along with Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, Colorado and California.

The worst state is almost always West Virginia. It is typically followed by Mississippi, then states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma...

Maciamo, there are lots of good things about New York(jobs, health care, cultural venues, recreation activities etc.) but I find myself out of "sync" in many ways as well, although not in all parts of the state. These are subjective judgments based on one's own values.

I wouldn't, for example, live in most parts of California if you paid me, and a lot of people agree with me: California flight is real. New York City is being ruined, and the flight from there is real as well.

I'll leave it at that.
 
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New York State is huge, a bit bigger than England (not Britain), so there must be other good places than NYC itself. Big cities tend to attract young adults for the opportunities to study, socialise, party and find work. With time, lots of people progressively move towards the suburbs or even the countryside, where life is quieter and more relaxed.

I am curious about which US state(s) are, in your opinion, the best to live in? I have never lived in the US, so I can only judge from statistics and hearsay.
 
New York State is huge, a bit bigger than England (not Britain), so there must be other good places than NYC itself. Big cities tend to attract young adults for the opportunities to study, socialise, party and find work. With time, lots of people progressively move towards the suburbs or even the countryside, where life is quieter and more relaxed.

I am curious about which US state(s) are, in your opinion, the best to live in? I have never lived in the US, so I can only judge from statistics and hearsay.

If I were younger and looking where to settle, many of the data points in the maps, while very interesting, wouldn't affect me, and so wouldn't impact my choice. It doesn't matter how many people eat fast foods, because I don't, or don't exercise, because I do, etc.

As I mentioned above, I would look at job opportunity, cost of living, especially in terms of housing, tax rates, quality of health care, education system(good private schools, at least), proximity of institutions of higher learning, some access to cultural venues, scenery, bearable climate, recreational activities etc. I would also look at political orientations. I emphatically do "not" want to live surrounded by ultra-leftist "WOKE" people.

It's difficult to find the place that ticks all the boxes, and I'd have to make some compromises. That said, some parts of North Carolina would be good, some parts of Florida, maybe Austin Texas, for younger people starting their climb, although the summer weather in Florida and Texas would be a big problem for me. Maybe even some of southern New Hampshire, although I'd have to look some more at the stats. A lot of California people have moved to Boise, Idaho. I've been there and it's beautiful, and the people lovely, but there's not enough cultural life for me.

Some parts of New York State, particularly parts of Long Island, are great if you're upper middle or upper class. For someone starting out it's impossible. It has many of the problems which beset California, such as too high taxes, too high housing costs. It's part of New York, and some things are conditioned by the state government, whose decisions are helping to encourage not only flight from the city, but from the state itself with its too high taxes resulting in part from too many people being on welfare, its hostility to business with its high business taxes, it's lax law enforcement and shackling of the police.

The flight from NYC that I'm talking about is not the normal transition as people become older; it's based on fear of what it is becoming, and is not just Covid related. I can tell you from personal experience that when I put my house on the market I got more than five full price and over offers within two days. It's unheard of...Then, I couldn't find a house for a worrying amount of time further east because it had spread to there. I was overpaid for my old house and overpaid for my new one. It's ok; I have much more land, a pool and spa, a nature preserve out the back yard, close to useable beaches and hiking, and not that far from the city if it ever becomes safe enough to go to the ballet or orchestra or museums. As I said, however, it wouldn't be a choice available to younger people unless they had a lot of family help.

For those starting out, the Saratoga, New York area is also a pretty good bet. If it weren't for my husband, that's probably where I'd be. In addition to the lower housing prices and much lower real estate taxes, and the State jobs in Albany, and good schools, and marvelous scenery and recreational activities it has the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet all summer as well as SPAC performing arts center. People should go before more people discover it.
 
Thanks, Angela. I checked photos of Saratoga county and it does look nice. Albany was already on my list of places to visit for my next trip to the Northeast US, along with places right on the other side of the NY state border, such as New Milford, CT, Stockbridge, MA, or Dorset, VT.

Weather-wise, I checked various places in the US, and apart from San Francisco which seems to have an idyllic climate, on the East coast places like Wilmington, NC, Myrtle Beach, SC, and Charleston, NC seem to have a good combination of mild winters and not too overbearing summers. Charleston is also historical and very beautiful. Another attractive town is Madison, GA.
 
I suppose that the high state taxes are one of the main reasons causing people to leave California and migrate to places like Texas, which have no state income tax. The Economist had a special report about this last year. I made a map of state income tax to visualise the situation.

USA-state_income_tax.png
 
Albany, I'm afraid, is Detroit. Troy is even worse, and Schenectady isn't far behind. It's what happened to so many old industrial towns in the Northeast (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania as well). It's why I'm so passionate about what has happened to the white working class in this country.

I would suggest staying in Saratoga Springs. It's a really wonderful area. It's about forty minutes from Lake George (and of course Saratoga Lake is also there), about an equal distance to decent skiing, and you're surrounded by the mountains. With the clean up of the Mohawk River you can kayak and fish there again. In August, as well as the Orchestra and the Ballet there's the Saratoga Racetrack, which is like a step back in time: wooden stands, picnic grounds, an opening day with women in big hats parading around, sort of like a mini Ascot.

Neighboring western Massachusetts is also really lovely, as you seem to already know. Tanglewood is wonderful in the summer. However, even more than Saratoga, people who might be thinking about moving there would have to consider it's really inundated with snow in the winter as it's right in the mountains. It's also no place to look for jobs. It's mostly vacation homes.

North Carolina is a good bet all round, while Charleston is indeed a beautiful town, with fabulous food, if not very healthy. I have to say it's also a bit too "Old South" for me, as are the islands of the coasts there; too many old racial attitudes linger, although it's unstated. A lot of New Yorkers retire to both places, but North Carolina is much better for jobs.

The lack of state taxes is indeed a big factor, but perhaps even more important are the real estate taxes which fund local government and schools. If you looked at the same nice house in Saratoga versus Long Island you'd pay 5-7,000 a year in Saratoga, versus 12,000 up to 19,000 and up in Long Island depending on the area.

I'd also recommend visiting Sarasota in Florida, although emphatically "not" in August. :) It's visually stunning, has some of the best beaches in the world, more affordable (relatively speaking) beachfront housing compared to a lot of places in Florida, and the only place in Florida which had a bit of the kind of cultural life I have to have. It has a particularly vibrant art and jazz scene, the best art museum in Florida, and great restaurants. It's also "younger" than a lot of Florida.
 
I have added 26 new socio-economic maps of the US. This includes everything from GDP per capita and personal income to home ownership rates, average home prices and home sizes, poverty rates, percentage of millionaires, social progress, happiness, percentage of Internet users, or fertility rates.
 

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