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Best states to be rich 2019

| MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA
min read

couple_on_sailboatBeing 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:

  1. Income levels of top earners
  2. Reasonableness of state income taxes
  3. 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:

  1. Massachusetts
    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.

  2. 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.

  3. Pennsylvania
    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.

  4. (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.
  1. (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.
  1. (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.
  1. Wyoming
    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.

  2. Texas
    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Overall ranking:

StateOverall Rank
New Hampshire2
New York9
Rhode Island10
New Jersey14
North Dakota17
South Dakota20
North Carolina25
New Mexico32
West Virginia39
South Carolina49

Rankings in all categories:



Top Income RankTax Burden RankProperty Crime Safety Rank
 Alabama 42 36 18 43
 Alaska 16 9 1 49
 Arizona 25 22 13 41
 Arkansas 49 48 36 45
 California 28 3 50 27
 Colorado 15 10 14 33
 Connecticut 12 6 38 10
 Delaware 22 12 34 26
 Florida 18 33 1 28
 Georgia 32 21 30 39
 Hawaii 43 15 49 37
 Idaho 32 42 41 7
 Illinois 4 11 16 17
 Indiana 24 40 11 24
 Iowa 45 39 46 18
 Kansas 39 34 25 36
 Kentucky 37 45 30 19
 Louisiana 48 44 30 48
 Maine 29 37 40 4
 Maryland 11 4 26 22
 Massachusetts 1 1 23 3
 Michigan 4 20 12 12
 Minnesota 29 14 47 20
 Mississippi 44 50 18 34
 Missouri 37 28 28 38
 Montana 47 46 36 31
 Nebraska 36 35 35 23
 Nevada 18 29 1 32
 New Hampshire 2 17 18 1
 New Jersey 14 5 45 6
 New Mexico 32 25 15 50
 New York 9 2 43 5
 North Carolina 25 23 24 29
 North Dakota 17 31 8 21
 Ohio 21 26 17 25
 Oklahoma 41 38 18 40
 Oregon 46 16 48 44
 Pennsylvania 3 19 10 8
 Rhode Island 10 13 29 9
 South Carolina 49 43 39 47
 South Dakota 20 49 1 16
 Tennessee 35 41 9 42
 Texas 8 18 1 30
 Utah 27 24 18 35
 Vermont 23 27 44 2
 Virginia 4 7 26 11
 Washington 13 8 1 46
 West Virginia 39 47 33 15
 Wisconsin 31 32 42 13
 Wyoming 7 30 1 14
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