I know some of you won't believe this, but Wisconsin is not the best state in which to live. US News & World Report ranks the Badger State only 15th in its latest list of "Best States to Live". Massachusetts is number one--followed by New Hampshire and our neighbors, Minnesota. The magazine likes to tout the 68-factors it considers in putting together its rankings--like health care, crime, education and the economy. But do the editors ever stop to wonder why so many people choose to live in the "Not Best States"?
Few of the states in the top ten--or even the top 15--are near the top of the list for population. Masschusetts is 14th in the country, while New Jersey is 11th (they come in as 14th best to live--right ahead of Wisconsin). Our most-populous state, California is 23rd in the rankings. Texas is 38th. New York is 17th and Florida is 24th. And when you look at the population trends--meaning where people are moving to and from--you find the "Best States" are losing population when compared to the "Less Than Best States".
So why do so many Americans settle for "less than the best"? For starters, you could argue that population scarcity actually makes it easier to climb the "Best of" list. Many of the services listed in factors used to make the list are not overwhelmed in states like New Hampshire, Minnesota and Iowa. It also helps to keep the cost of living down--especially in the housing market--where demand has made some states flat-out unaffordable for many.
And let's be honest, weather is a huge factor--which is NOT at all considered by US News & World Report. Nobody living and working in Florida or California is considering retiring to Wisconsin--no matter how efficient government operations are or how good the schools may be. Yet, many here are planning to give up their residency for the Sunshine State as soon as they can afford it. Believe it or not, tax structure is not considered in the rankings either--so states with very high taxes (Massachusetts and Minnesota) aren't penalized--while Florida and Texas don't receive any benefit for having no state income taxes.
So before we get down on ourselves for not being Number One--or maybe pat ourselves on the back for being ahead of so many other states. Take a look again at those rankings and ask yourself, "Would I really want to live there?"