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List of Top US States to Live in 2022: Cost, Income, Safety & Quality of life

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USA has established itself as one of the best countries to study and settle in for international students. The outstanding quality of education, cultural diversity, career opportunities, healthcare, as well as the high quality of life make the United States an option every aspiring student considers. If you are in the same boat, we have put down a detailed ranking of the best states to live in the USA. You will find the top universities and the average cost of rent, travel, and food in these states. By the end of this article, we hope you have a fair idea of what your life in these states will look like and can choose the best state to live in the USA.

Understanding the Ranking Metric

When selecting a state for you to travel abroad to and pursue your studies in, it is extremely important to have a 360-degree look at the resources you will have access to. For that reason, we’ve compiled our list to be comprehensive and cover the various aspects of living abroad such as cost of living, median wage, top schools and more. It’s important to know that there is truly no one best city for all international students. Your choice should be based on all the factors mentioned below and how you choose to prioritize them. This will help you choose the best state to live in USA for you.

Educational Institutions

As a student, the first and foremost priority when choosing a state must be the availability of excellent academic institutions you can enrol in. We’ve listed the top colleges, universities, and institutes in the states by their QS World University Rankings for 2022.

Cost of Living

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List of Top US States to Live in 2022: Cost, Income, Safety & Quality of life

Superior quality of life does tend to be attached to a higher cost of living. But that does not always have to be the case. There can be a significant difference between the cost of living of one city versus another. While student life may not allow for access to luxuries, we’ve considered the cost of rent, and food in the states mentioned. Transport/travel costs have not been considered as they can vary greatly depending on the mode. However, opting for public transport is the most time and cost-effective way to travel in America. Taking affordability into consideration will ensure you choose a city that’s fit for your budget.

Employment Opportunities

Whether you’re looking at making some money on the side, or just scoping out the possibilities for your future you must consider the job market, employment rate, and career opportunities in your state of choice. We’ve considered the unemployment rates of each state based on a 2022 analysis by the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Also Read: How to Work and Get a Job in the USA

List of Best States To Live in the USA

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Utah
  3. California
  4. New York
  5. Texas
  6. Florida
  7. Illinois
  8. North Dakota
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Georgia
  11. North Carolina
  12. Ohio
  13. Washington D.C.
  14. Wisconsin
  15. Michigan
  16. Oregon
  17. Idaho
  18. Indiana
  19. Colorado
  20. Wyoming

Living Expenses of Top 5 US States

1. Massachusetts

Home to one Ivy league and a host of top-ranking universities in the world, Massachusetts is our top pick for the best state to live in USA. Boston, the capital of the state is also known as the ‘Athens of America’ for its history of academic brilliance.

Top Universities in Massachusetts

QS World Ranking – Institution #1 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) #5- Harvard University #112 – Boston University Other institutions to consider: Tufts University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Boston College, Northeastern University, Brandeis University

Cost of Living in Massachusetts

Average Rent: $1,225/month Food/Grocery: $295/month

Working in Massachusetts

Unemployment Rate: 4.8 (P) Avg. Annual Income: $37,886

2. Utah

The second happiest state in America, Utah is one of the best states to study and live in the USA. The people are friendly and tolerant. Utah also has the highest population of 19-25-year-olds. The cost of tuition in Utah is lesser than the national average. This makes it a state students prioritizing affordability should consider!

Top Universities in Utah

QS World Ranking – Institution #358 – University of Utah

Also Read: Best Public Universities in USA 2022

Other institutions to consider: Brigham Young University, Utah State University, Dixie State University, Utah Valley University

Cost of Living in Utah

Average Rent: $1,098/month Food/Grocery: $253/month

Working in Utah

Unemployment Rate: 2.2 (P) Avg. Annual Income: $30,801

3. California

California, the Golden State, is the perfect state for international students seeking excellent education, a diverse culture, and a high standard of living. Studying and living in California can be a truly enriching experience owing to the heterogeneity of people in the state and the wonderful outdoors to explore.

Top Universities in California

QS World Ranking – Institution #3 – Stanford University #6 – California Institute of Technology, Caltech #32 – University of California, Berkeley #40 – University of California, Los Angeles #48 – University of California, San Diego Other institutions to consider: University of Southern California, University of California, Davis, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of California, Irvine

Cost of Living in California

Average Rent: $1,614/month Food/Grocery: $302/month

Working in California

Unemployment Rate: 5.8 (P) Avg. Annual Income: $31,960

4. New York

New York is host to more than 400 colleges and universities with specializations in a varied number of fields. This makes New York a great city for international students as they can find an excellent university and have a good all-around experience of all that the city has to offer.

Top Universities in New York

QS World Ranking – Institution #19 – Columbia University #21 – Cornell University #42 – New York University (NYU) Other institutions to consider: Fordham University, Baruch College, CUNY Hunter College, Pace University – New York, Yeshiva University

Cost of Living in New York

Average Rent: $2,098/month Food/Grocery: $471/month

Working in New York

Unemployment Rate: 5.3 (P) Avg. Annual Income: $32,320

Also Read: What is the Minimum Wage in the USA?

5. Texas

The outstanding educational programs, great weather, beautiful outdoors, and delicious food make the Lone Star State, Texas, a worthy contender in the list of best states to live in the USA. The state has repeatedly ranked as one of the best places to live and offers students access to good universities and career opportunities.

Top Universities in Texas

QS World Ranking – Institution #67 – University of Texas at Austin #94 – Rice University #168 – Texas A&M University Other institutions to consider: University of Texas at Dallas, University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, Texas Tech University, Baylor University

Cost of Living in Texas

Average Rent: $1,091/month Food/Grocery: $275/month

Working in New York

Unemployment Rate: 4.8 (P) Avg. Annual Income: $30,596


Choosing to study in the USA is a wise choice for international students. The country is rich in institutions offering world-class education, while also offering a wonderful experience for students through the diverse cultural landscape. The USA offers the perfect balance of academics, lifestyle, and career opportunities and can set you up for success. The rankings can help you decide on the state of your choice depending on your budget and the kind of institutions you want to enrol into. Studying in small cities with a relatively peaceful lifestyle is just as valuable as the buzz of the large cities.

If you are unsure, consider speaking with a study-abroad expert at LeapScholar. Remember, the state that works for you is the best state to live in in the USA!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is USA safe for international students?

While no place in the world is 100% safe, the USA cannot be considered particularly unsafe for international students. Applying common sense and taking basic precautions for your health care during Covid-19 times in your day-to-day activities can help immensely when studying or even traveling to any international country.

At the same time, there are some states that are considered to be the safest in America based on crime rates. Maine, New Hampshire, Idaho, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wyoming, and Virginia are the top 10 states with the lowest crime rates. On the other hand, some of the worst state to live in are Mississippi and Alabama.

2. How much does it cost to study in the US?

Despite being a popular choice for international students to study abroad, living and studying in the USA can be expensive. For reference, undergraduate degrees at public universities cost around $26,290 according to the student support organization College Board.

However, if that number seems unachievable for you, do explore the multiple options for funding and scholarships available to Indian students interested in studying in the USA. In fact, 85 percent of full-time undergrads in 2015-16 received some form of financial aid. You can secure one too.

3. How long does enrolling in a US university take?

As an international student, it is essential to start planning your admission and move to the US in advance. Start your research at least 18 months before the move. You can start with the required tests and exams a year in advance and apply in the next 2 months.

Then, you are ready to apply for your student visa (at least 3 months in advance) and plan your move.

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Debasmita Das

Study abroad professional with 14 years of extensive experience in advising associates, recruiting and counselling students.

Articles: 42

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