2016’s Best & Worst State Capitals


Most Americans come to know the seat of their state government in elementary school, perhaps by way of a field trip or geography quiz. As adults, we might perceive them as mostly political centers lacking much social luster. In other words, they’re boring. Only 17 capitals are the most populated cities in their states. So unless they’re major hubs of all activity — or we happen to be geography buffs — most of us are bound to commit these lawmaking cities to our short-term memory.

But regardless of how many we can actually remember beyond grade school, some state capitals are among the most livable places in the nation. WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 state capitals to identify which among them combines the best of everything an ideal city has to offer: affordability, a strong economy, high education standards and overall excellent quality of life. Our data set of 35 key metrics ranges from cost of living to K–12 school-system quality to number of attractions. Scroll down for the results, additional expert commentary and a detailed description of our methodology.

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