WalletHub, personal-finance website, recently conducted a study of the best state capitals to live in, creating a list ranking all 50 states in the U.S. Only 17 state capitals are also the largest cities in their respective states, but not necessarily offering the best quality of life.

To identify the most livable seats of state government, WalletHub’s data team compared all 50 across 42 key metrics, ranging from “cost of living” to “K–12 school-system quality” to “number of attractions.” The 42 key indicators of affordability, economic strength, quality of education and health, and overall living standards.


Best vs. Worst

  • Juneau, Alaska, has the highest median household income (adjusted for cost of living), $66,009, which is 2.6 times higher than in Hartford, Conn., the city with the lowest at $25,065.
  • Concord, N.H., has the lowest unemployment rate, 2.0 percent, which is 3.6 times lower than in Hartford, Conn., the city with the highest at 7.1 percent.
  • Providence, R.I., has the lowest share of state- and local-government employees, 8.3 percent, which is 4.7 times lower than in Juneau, Alaska, the city with the highest at 38.8 percent.
  • Indianapolis has the highest K–12 school-system quality score, which is five times higher than in Trenton, N.J., the city with the lowest.
  • Montpelier, Vt., has the highest share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, 55.6 percent, which is 5.1 times higher than in Trenton, N.J., the city with the lowest at 11.0 percent.
  • Austin, Texas, has the lowest infant-mortality rate, 4.05 percent, which is 3.3 times lower than in Baton Rouge, La., the city with the highest at 13.36 percent.
  • Harrisburg, Pa., has the most restaurants per 100,000 residents, which is 7.6 times more than in Indianapolis, the city with the fewest.
  • Denver has the highest share of millennial newcomers, 8.0 percent, which is 2.4 times higher than in Jackson, Miss., the city with the lowest at 3.4 percent.
  • Bismarck, N.D., has the lowest violent-crime rate per 1,000 residents, 1.47 percent, which is 10.1 times lower than in Little Rock, Ark., the city with the highest at 14.85 percent.

WalletHub’s process to determine the best state capitals involved analysts compared all 50 across four key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Economic Well-Being, 3) Quality of Education & Health and 4) Quality of Life.

The key aspects were analyzed using compiled 42 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most livable state capital.

The last step was then calculating a “State Capital Index” for each state capital based on its weighted average across all metrics and using the resulting indexes to construct our final ranking.