California Stands Out as the State Where Americans Most - and Least - Want to Live

Looking to American cities, New York, NY is the object of similar love/hate thoughts

Sep 05, 2013, 13:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Sept. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Someone light the candles! California, our nation's 31st state, celebrates its 164th birthday next Monday. Clearly many Americans think its best years are still ahead of it – when asked where, excluding their current state, they would most like to live, The Golden State is at the top of the list; fellow oceanfront states Hawaii (2) and Florida (3) round out the top three, followed by Texas (4) and Colorado (5). But of course, even beloved locations can have their detractors – sometimes a lot of them. In fact, California is also the top selection as the state Americans would least like to live in. 


These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,286 U.S. adults surveyed online between August 14 and 19, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results available here)

Looking at the top 15 states where Americans would most want to live, California's #1 position represents a return to the spot it held from 2002 until Hawaii nabbed it in 2011, the most recent year this question was asked. However, despite some slight changes in order, the top 5 states this year are a repeat of 2011's top 5. The real up and comer this time around is The Empire State, with New York jumping from the 11th position in 2011 to the 6th this year.

The remaining 9 states on the "top 15" list represent a diverse mix, both geographically and culturally:

  • Oregon (9) and Washington (10) bring Top 10 status home for the Pacific Northwest;
  • Arizona (7) represents the Southwest in the Top 10;
  • North Carolina (8), Virginia (11), Tennessee (=12) and South Carolina (=12) give the South a high number of representatives in the top 15;
  • Pennsylvania (=12) represents the mid-Atlantic in the top 15; and
  • Hawaii's fellow non-contiguous state, Alaska (15), rounds out the top 15.

Of course, California isn't the only state that has both admirers and detractors. Alaska and New York, both top 15 performers when Americans are asked where they would like to live, also round out the top 3 states where Americans would not want to live (2 and 3, respectively). Mississippi (4) and Florida (5) round out the top 5 for the dubious list, with Michigan (6), Texas (7), Alabama (8), the District of Columbia (9) and New Jersey (10) completing the top 10.

Favorite and Least Favorite Cities
Turning to cities Americans would (and would not) like to live in, it appears that states don't hold the sole rights to "love it or hate it" status: New York, NY is both the city Americans most and least want to live in (excepting where they live now). California is well represented among the top 5 most desired cities, with San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco nabbing spots 2-4, and Honolulu, HI rounds out the top 5. Seattle, WA (6); Denver, CO (=7); Portland, OR (=7); Miami, FL (9) and Boston, MA (10) fill out the rest of the top 10.

Los Angeles also appears in the top 5 cities Americans would least want to live in (at number 3), along with Detroit, MI (2); Chicago, IL (4) and Miami, FL (5). Washington, DC (6); Philadelphia, PA (=7); Houston, TX (=7); Las Vegas, NV (9) and Dallas, TX (10) complete this more dubious top 10 list.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 14 and 19, 2013 among 2,286 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #61, September 5, 2013
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive
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