To establish those ratings, the site looked at five factors: average wages, state tax rates, the cost of living, the unemployment rate, and the incidence of workplace accidents and work-related health problems. The three “best places to make a living,” according to the survey, were Texas, Washington and Wyoming, all of which have no state income tax at all.
In determining Hawaii’s low status, the site said, “Cost of living is the main issue. Hawaii has the highest cost of living of any state. One of the biggest reasons why cost of living is so great in the state is higher than average housing expenses. According to Zillow, the median home value of a house in Hawaii is $537,300, which could price some buyers out of the market. Additionally, salaries in the state do not compensate for its high cost of living – the average wage in Hawaii is about typical for the rest of the nation. Hawaii has one of the highest income tax rates of any state. Adjusted for taxes and the cost of living, workers in Hawaii get the equivalent value of just 55 cents for every dollar they make.”
The bad news about Hawaii was picked up by nationwide sites such as such as USA Today as well as some local news sources in Hawaii. But those sites missed the other side of the coin: money-rates.com, in another analysis, has rated Hawaii as the nation’s best place to retire. In that survey, it took into account not just state income tax rates, but other tax forms such as property tax.
“As you might expect, Hawaii scored well for its climate, but that was not its greatest strength,” noted the site. “The category in which Hawaii ranked No. 1 out of all 50 states was life expectancy for people at age 65 today. There is just something about the place that agrees with people. One caution is that Hawaii has the highest cost of living of all 50 states, but it does somewhat offset that by having the lowest property taxes as a percentage of property value.”
Factors included in “Best Place to Retire” analysis included the number of seniors in the state’s population (“just for how many of their peers seniors can expect to find in different states, but also how well each state is attracting older residents”), the state’s economic climate (“taxes, cost of living and unemployment”), the state’s rates of violent and property crimes, the weather, and senior life expectancy rates.
Money-rates.com is a financial Web site aimed primarily at investors; its aim, according to its masthead, is to “find you the best bank rates.”