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Utah one of the best places in country to live, poll says

By Tracie Snowder | Posted - Apr. 25, 2014 at 3:27 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — If you live in Utah, chances are good you love it here. According to a recent Gallup poll, Utahns rate their state as one of the best places in the country to live.

Gallup conducted polls in each of the 50 states to see if residents liked where they lived. Utah came in third place, with 70 percent of Utahns saying their state is the best, behind Montana (77 percent) and Alaska (77 percent). The poll asked questions about taxes, standard of living, trust in local government and quality of life.

Spencer Eccles, executive director of Gov. Gary Herbert's Office of Economic Development, says it's thanks, in part, to government programs like Envision Utah, a public effort launched in 1997 to make Utah a better place to live.

Best States to Live
  • Montana, 77%
  • Alaska, 77%
  • Utah, 70%
  • Wyoming, 69%
  • Hawaii, 68%
  • Texas, 68%
  • New Hampshire, 67%
  • North Dakota, 66%
  • Colorado, 65%
  • Vermont, 61%
  • Oregon, 61%
  • Minnesotta, 61%

“What we find is that Utahns really love the state of Utah. And I think that (Utahns) are the most important people to understand how they're feeling about things,” Eccles said. “When you're ahead of places like Texas and Hawaii and others, and you're just slightly behind the No. 1 position, it speaks highly of what we're doing here in the state.”

States with lots of mountains and cold weather received the best rankings.

“Residents of western and midwestern states are generally more positive about their states as places to live. With the exception of the New England states of New Hampshire and Vermont, all of the top 10-rated states are west of the Mississippi River,” Gallup reported.

Wyoming came in fourth place with 69 percent, and Texas and Hawaii tied for fifth place at 68 percent. Hawaii had very high rankings for standard of living, but average rankings for trust in state government and taxes. Texans are the most likely to rank their state as the absolute best place to live and are less likely to complain about the taxes they pay.

Worst States to Live
  • Rhode Island, 18%
  • Illinois, 19%
  • Mississippi, 26%
  • Louisiana, 27%
  • Michigan, 28%
  • New Mexico, 28%
  • New Jersey, 28%
  • Maryland, 29%
  • Missouri, 29%
  • Connecticut, 31%

Other states didn't fare so well in the poll. One in four Illinois residents say their state is the worst place to live, with government scandals and resentment towards taxes contributing to their unhappiness. Less than one in five Rhode Islanders like living in their state.

Eccles says Herbert plans on keeping Utahns happy through Envision Utah and constantly improving local government. Herbert led a full business regulatory review, Eccles said, and out of 1,969 business regulations the state identified, over 350 were eliminated or modified, all in an effort to help businesses run and prosper in Utah.

“I think that leadership in the legislature and government preceding us, and efforts in the private community all working together to plan have enabled us to be where we are today,” Eccles said. “We're moving forward, we're looking ahead into the future and seeing what types of things do we need to put in place to ensure that we can have an all encompassing survey like this in 20 years and be in the top categories.”

And what's the most important part of Utah? Eccles says it's the people that really make this state great.

“Always, it comes back to the people. And whether that's a highly educated workforce or the work ethic that we have or just the general kind of happiness that people have here, it's noticeable,” he said. “When companies come here, or tourists come here, they notice it right away, and it's great to live in a place like that.”

Contributing: Mary Richards

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