The ranking lists the following states:
Virginia ranked well because it had relatively low taxes, cost of living, and crime and a moderate climate.
Iowa ranked well because of exceptional health care and low costs.
Idaho ranked well because of a low cost of living, low crime, and plenty of sunshine.
Montana fared well because of abundant sunshine, good health care, low taxes, and low crime.
Nebraska ranked well because of low costs, low crime, good health care, and abundant sunshine.
Wyoming broke into the top five due to the lowest taxes in the country (according to Tax Foundation and considering taxes at all levels), low crime, and lots of sunshine.
4. North Dakota
North Dakota made the number four spot due to low cost of living, low crime, low taxes, good health care, and making the top of Gallup-Healthways’ Well-Being Index (which is a comprehensive measure of happiness).
Utah ranked well in every measure, including the Well-Being Index.
Colorado took the penultimate spot with low costs, low crime, good health care, low taxes, and good performance on the Well-Being Index.
1. South Dakota
The top spot went to South Dakota which did exceptionally well in almost every category, including good health care, good performance on the Well-Being Index, extremely low taxes, low cost of living, and low crime.
The Bankrate.com listing, like the listing in USA Today, demonstrates that taxes are only part of the equation. Surprisingly, colder climates seem to predominate and the southern tier of states, from California to Florida, did not make the list at all.