The 10 best states to live in the US and how to buy there

The 10 best states to live in the US and how to buy there
(Image credit: Getty)

Whether extra living space has become an urgent requirement due to working from home or there’s simply a desire to relocate altogether, the low cost of home loans from the best mortgage lenders is making it all the more possible for people to realize their home moving aspirations. Homes sales in the US have soared in recent months as a result, but where exactly should you go if you’re looking for a new start and which states provide the greatest opportunity for home owner happiness? 

According to SmartAsset, top of the destination wishlist should be the West and Northeast, with eight of the top 10 states in its study located in these regions. Rising home values, the low cost of the best home owners insurance, and low burglary rates are the main reasons for their appeal. However, the conclusions have been drawn across 10 metrics altogether, including the median price per square foot, the ratio of home value to income, foreclosures per 10,000 homes, median annual property taxes, effective property tax rate, average closing costs, and average closing costs as a percentage of median home value. 

Which states come out top overall? 

1. Wyoming
Newly named the best state for homeowners in 2020 is Wyoming. While its status as the least populous state in the US might seem like a good enough reason for most to want to move there, Wyoming placed in the top 20 for eight of the 10 metrics considered. Ranking particularly well for its low property taxes and recent home value appreciation, the median value per square foot rose by 5.61% in the year to January 2020, the eighth-highest rate in the study, to $433. 

The 10 best states to live in the US and how to buy there

(Image credit: Getty)

2. Idaho
Property appreciation is one of the main reasons for Idaho taking second spot in the list, with the median value per square foot soaring by almost to 10% in the previous year - the highest rate of any state. Those residing in Idaho - last year’s top state - also have relatively low property taxes, with the median annual property taxes paid less than $1,500, and the 2018 effective property tax rate being just 0.63%.

3. Indiana
Ranking second for home value to income at a ratio of 2.64, buying a home in Indiana should be relatively attainable for the average household. The state also stacks up well in terms of low property taxes (eighth-lowest at an average of $1,214), closing costs (second-lowest at $2,627), and homeowners insurance (seventh-lowest at $901). 

4. Utah
Utah may have fallen from second in the 2019 rankings, but still figures in the top 10 for four metrics. It has the fifth-highest median value per square foot ($555), the eighth-lowest effective property tax rate (0.59%), eighth-lowest closing costs as a percentage of home value (1.20%) and fourth-lowest average annual homeowners insurance ($711).

5. New Hampshire
New Hampshire secures its place in the top five due to having the second-lowest rate for foreclosures (one per every 125,524 homes in the state in July, or 0.08 per 10,000 homes) and having the lowest burglary rate - about 136 per 100,000 residents - of all the states. One thing to be aware of, however, is its property taxes, with 2018 data showing it has the third-highest median annual property taxes paid by residents, at about $5,600, and an effective property tax rate of 2.09%, the fourth-highest recorded. 

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10 Best States for Homeowners 2020 (source: SmartAsset)
State1-year home value appreciationRatio of home value to incomeEffective property tax rateForeclosures per 10,000 homesAverage annual homeowners insuranceIndex
New Hampshire5.34%3.602.09%0.08$77373.53

How to secure your new home

If you’re thinking about moving - whether it's to one of the most desirable states listed above or somewhere else - the ultra low mortgage rates available at present means that there has probably never been a better time to do so. Even accounting for rising house prices compared with a year ago, mortgage rates have fallen so far in that time that your monthly payments should still be lower than they would have been based on last year’s lower property values. 

The 10 best states to live in the US and how to buy there

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One thing you must consider, however, is that even the best refinance mortgage companies have become slightly more cautious over who they are willing to lend to amid the background of economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, presenting yourself in the most favorable light possible is a must, meaning that you should have all the paperwork a mortgage lender might need to see to hand. This will include evidence of your income and work status, details of any outgoings and debt you might hold, tax returns, bank statements and the like. Given mortgage companies also scrutinize the credit scores of those they are considering lending to, it might also be worth contacting the best credit repair services if your credit standing needs a boost. 

Calculating the full costs of any potential move is also essential. As well as making sure you secure the best truck rental for moving, also remember that once you get to your new home, you’ll need to pay out for property taxes and homeowners insurance as well. 

For this reason, you need to keep your mortgage costs as low as possible - and this means shopping around for the best mortgage deal. If you’re worried about the amount of time and effort this might take, using an online marketplace such as LendingTree can take most of the hassle away. Share your details online once, and the best mortgage lenders will start coming to you with the rates and terms that they are happy to offer. From here, it is simply a case of selecting the best mortgage for you - and also readying yourself for that fresh start in your new home, of course. 

The best mortgage companies come to you at LendingTree

The best mortgage companies come to you at LendingTree
Make your dream house move a reality by finding the best mortgage rates fast at LendingTree. 

Tim Leonard

With over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Tim has spent most of his career working for a financial data firm, where he was Online Editor of the consumer-facing Moneyfacts site, and regularly penned articles for the financial advice publication Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts. As a result, he has an excellent knowledge of almost areas of personal finance and, in particular, the retirement, investment, protection, mortgage and savings sectors.