America's Top States for Quality of Life: Take a Bow

CNBC

Among the 10 categories of competitiveness we measure to rank America's Top States for Business is Quality of Life. CNBC looks at a variety of factors including crime, health care, local attractions and environmental quality. Is a happy state also a healthy state for business? (You can check our CNBC's full methodology here.) Read ahead to see which states come out on top for Quality of Life.

#1 HAWAII

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Hawaiians are passionate about the environment, and it shows. Among the most visited of the 50 states, there is no shortage of attractions. The Aloha State offers nearly every type of climate known to man, so unless you crave polar conditions, you're in luck. This is a healthy state, with low instances of cancer and heart disease and few residents without health insurance. Hawaii's top-ranked quality of life for a second straight year makes it easy to forget about the state's dismal overall ranking.

 #2 VERMONT

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The Green Mountain State takes its name from the verdant range that defines this state, but Vermont is more than just mountains. It's more than maple syrup, too, though Vermonters will proudly tell you the state accounts for 39 percent of the nation's total production. Vermont is one of America's healthiest states by many measures, from infectious disease rates to the percentage of residents without health insurance. The crime rate and pollution are among the nation's lowest.

 #3 MINNESOTA

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The North Star State has something to offer almost everyone. Enjoy the natural beauty of the North Woods or the cosmopolitan sophistication of the Twin Cities. And everyone, it seems, is "Minnesota Nice"—so much so that the crime rate is among the nation's lowest. The home of the famed Mayo Clinic is one of America's healthiest states, and the environment is among the cleanest. But if you're not a fan of winter, beware. With an average annual temperature of just 41.2 degrees Fahrenheit, Minnesota is one of America's coldest states. But they'll tell you—nicely—that they know how to adapt.

 #4 NEBRASKA

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There is more than just corn in the Cornhusker State, which offers relatively low crime, clean air, and apparently a relatively stress-free lifestyle—heart disease and high blood pressure here are well below the national average. Improving health and a declining crime rate helped Nebraska mount a solid improvement in quality of life this year.

 #5 (TIE) MAINE

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The Pine Tree State is the safest state, with the nation's lowest crime rate. Mainers are healthy, with the percentage of uninsured residents one of the lowest in the country. Pollution is low, with toxic chemical releases among the nation's lowest. But Maine's reputation as a quiet state is well-earned. If you are not an outdoor enthusiast, attractions can be hard to come by.

#5 (TIE) NORTH DAKOTA

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The Peace Garden State lives up to its nickname when you look at the low crime rate, and when you consider air and water quality. The state's phenomenal oil shale boom has led to some growing pains—literally. Obesity is higher than the national average, though health care is generally accessible. All in all though, North Dakota is proving that a strong economy and strong quality of life are not mutually exclusive.

Want to see the full Top States for Quality of Life slideshow? Check it out here.


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