Being rich is nice … but some states actually make it more difficult to achieve than other states.
The study that MoneyRates.com conducts every year confirms that conditions for being rich vary greatly from one state to another, and that makes for some interesting contrasts.
To illustrate the point, consider the following insights from the study:
- Earning in the top 10 percent of your peers will get you over $100,000 in annual income in ten states, but it's good for just $68,240 in Mississippi.
- Folks in seven states pay no state income tax; however, wealthy people in California have to contend with a tax structure that tops out at a 13.3 percent state income tax rate.
- Location also makes a difference when it comes to protecting your property, as people in New Mexico are almost three times as likely as those in New Hampshire to be victims of property theft.
To weigh differences like this, MoneyRates.com ranked all 50 states in the following three categories:
- Income levels of top earners
- Reasonableness of state income taxes
- Safety from property crime
Sources included the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Tax Foundation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The average ranking across all three categories was used to determine the best states for being rich.
10 best states for being rich in 2019
Based on the most recent available data in each category, the following are the best states for being rich heading into 2019:
This is a repeat win for Massachusetts, which also claimed the number one spot last year. The primary reason? High earners in Massachusetts do especially well. The annual wage earned by someone at the top ten percent level in Massachusetts is $117,450, which is more than $20,000 better than the national average of $96,150 for top ten percent wage earners.
Massachusetts is also one of the safer states from property crime. Its rate of property crime is 1,437 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is the third lowest in the nation.
When it comes to taxes, the highest state income tax bracket of 5.1 percent in Massachusetts is around the middle of the pack, so that neither particularly helps nor hurts its standing.
- New Hampshire
This northern neighbor of Massachusetts has the nation's lowest rate of property crime, with 1,381.8 annual occurrences per 100,000 inhabitants. It is also a little better than most states for high-earner income, and its top state tax rate is lower than most.
Another northeastern state took the third spot, placing just slightly behind New Hampshire. Pennsylvania has one of the ten lowest rates of property crime in the nation, and its top state income tax rate of 3.07 percent is among the lowest of those states that charge an income tax. Also, incomes for high earners in Pennsylvania are above those in most states.
- (tie) Illinois
The fourth-place spot in this study is occupied by a three-way tie. One of those states, Illinois, didn't place in the top ten in any single category but was better than most states in all three. That consistency carried it into the top ten overall.
- (tie) Michigan
The next state in the log-jam in fourth place is Michigan. Parts of the state's auto industry may have run into hard times, but the state still has some attractive features for the wealthy. Both the top state income tax bracket and the rate of property crime are among the lowest 25 percent in the nation. In a different way, those both help Michigan residents to hold on to their money, and there is also an opportunity to make a fair amount with a high-earner income level above that of most states.
- (tie) Virginia
The third state in the three-way tie for fourth is Virginia. The standout feature for Virginia is that the high-earner income level is in the top ten nationally. The property crime rate is among the lowest 25 percent, while the top state tax rate is middle of the pack.
Wyoming is one of the seven states that charges no income tax, which represents an especially large savings for the wealthy. Wyoming also has a relatively low rate of property crime. The one drawback is that high-earner incomes are below those of most states.
Like Wyoming, Texas charges no state income tax, which is a big help in this study. It also ranks better than most states for high-earner income level, though its property crime rate is worse than in most states.
- New York
As the home to Wall Street, New York might be expected to be among the top states for high-earner incomes, and indeed its $117,190 annual earnings at the top ten percent level trails only that of Massachusetts. What may be more surprising to some is that New York State also benefits from having one of the five lowest rates of property crime in the nation.
Of course, with two such outstanding attributes, there has to be a reason why New York didn't place better than ninth, and that reason is taxes. New York's top tax bracket of 8.82 percent is one of the ten highest in the nation.
- Rhode Island
The third New England state to make the top ten, Rhode Island benefits primarily from having one of the ten lowest rates of property crime in the nation. It is also better than most states for high-earner income, while its top income tax rate is around the middle of the pack.
Don't see your state in the top ten? On the complete list of all 50 states below, you'll see how each state ranked and how your state stacks up.
Rankings in all categories:
|Top Income Rank||Tax Burden Rank||Property Crime Safety Rank|