It may surprise you


North Dakotans are living the good life, according to a new report from U.S. News & World Report.

The publication's annual Best States ranking says North Dakota has the best quality of life in the U.S. The state scored highly in both social and natural environment, the two categories that decide the quality of life ranking.

Natural environment includes metrics like air and water quality, pollution and prevalence of industrial toxins, while social environment encompasses community engagement, social support and voter participation. North Dakota, with its wide-open spaces, plentiful national parks and small but engaged population, got high marks in these areas.

"North Dakota and Minnesota are the most effective at promoting their citizens' well-being by providing both a healthy environment and a sense of social connectedness," U.S. News writes.

The state with the worst quality of life, according to the U.S. News ranking, may surprise you. Despite its reputation for perfect weather and chilled-out residents, California took last place on the quality of life list, though it placed 32nd overall in the magazine's Best States roundup.

North Dakota also scored highly in U.S. News' overall ranking of best states, coming in at number four behind only Iowa, Minnesota and Utah. The Great Plains state, which has enjoyed an economic and population resurgence thanks to a recent oil boom, also took second in both infrastructure and fiscal stability, with a slightly-above-average median household income of $60,656.

States ranked best for quality of life

  1. North Dakota
  2. Minnesota
  3. Wisconsin
  4. New Hampshire
  5. South Dakota

States ranked lowest for quality of life

  1. California
  2. New Jersey
  3. Indiana
  4. Illinois
  5. Texas