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Boston.com readers say Mass. isn’t the second best state to live in — but for different reasons

"Mass. is second? Holy cow, I'd love to see how they came up with these rankings."

The USS Constitution is towed through Boston Harbor past Boston's Financial District skyline. Stephan Savoia / AP, File
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It seems that WalletHub’s ranking of New Jersey and Massachusetts as the No. 1 and No. 2 states in which to live, respectively, is one of those things that make you go “Hmmm …” At least as far as Boston.com readers are concerned.

In other words, they aren’t buying it.

“Vermont is better than both NJ and Massachusetts, as is Maine and NH,” replied one reader, while another elaborated further: “If you love high taxes, bloated unions, terrible roads and bridges, out-of-control social services, oh, and throw in cold winters, on top of lousy politics and lockdowns, then yes, for sure, these two states are for you.”

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Then there were those who disagreed with the report, but only because they thought that Massachusetts should be on top. “Mass. should be #1. Best schools, best medical care, best pro sports, breweries, best pot shops, best beaches,” said Gary from Reading, with another reader chiming in, “I grew up in NJ and I like Mass. better. Now I’m in NY and I miss you, Mass.”

In total, of the close to 600 readers who responded, 57% thought both New Jersey and Massachusetts finished too high on the list, and 31% said the Bay State should have taken the top spot. Another 11%, though, thought the survey got it right: “I’ve lived in NJ and Mass. and love NJ so much more. Ethnicity, diversity, food, etc. are better,” said Jay from Charlestown. “Sorry, MA.” 

Meanwhile, about 80 readers elaborated on their responses with their takes on Massachusetts and how it compares to both New Jersey and the 48 states it bested in the WalletHub poll. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.

Not a fan of Massachusetts:

“Massachusetts taxes are so high, it cannot be one of the best states in New England let alone the USA.”

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“Public transport (trains) are insanely outdated, catch fire, are broken frequently, look like the year 1973, Boston is dirty, taxes are WAY too high with little relief for the people paying them (transport, state of roads, services), apartments and homes are WAY too expensive, cost of living vs. pay is not adequate. Homes in areas like Somerville or areas in Middlesex County are outrageously priced, half a million dollars for a shack that hasn’t been updated since 1964. People are a mixed bag of rude townies and uppity snobby tech/university people. Western Mass. is nice, scenic, clean, pretty, with down to earth people, but only makes a small percentage of the state. There are not many benefits to living in Mass. for someone who isn’t upper middle class or rich. You cannot afford to live. I prefer living in New Hampshire or Rhode Island to Massachusetts.” — Kima, Somerville

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“Mass. is second? Holy cow, I’d love to see how they came up with these rankings. With Markey, Pressley and other socialists in our state pushing higher taxes and government spending, I can’t possibly see how we finished in the Top 50%.” — Michael, Acushnet 

Mass. should be No. 1:

“I am from NJ. That safety metric is completely wrong for NJ. Also, the population density has become too onerous in NJ. The economy is great but your net income is less between taxes and other expenses. How can the second least affordable state still come in No 1 overall?” — Dane, North Reading

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“Having lived in several other states, and one in particular that always berates Mass., one thing I have always had in my adopted home of Massachusetts is a good J-O-B ! My native NJ wife thinks NJ should be #1.” — Lauren, Templeton

“NJ — utter lack of charm and basically being nothing more than a suburb of NYC should have disqualified it from first place.” — Tom, Ashland 

“Grew up in Scituate and lived in Boston and Belmont for a while before moving to New Jersey in the ’70s. While New Jersey is not as bad as many claim, Massachusetts has great sports teams, city of Boston has everything, while New Jersey real estate taxes are sky high and charge money to go on all of its beaches!” — John, Tinton Falls, New Jersey

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“Massachusetts has everything — nearby places to vacation, great food, great schools, best employers, and it’s a hotbed for advances in life sciences. I love everything about it! Proud to call Boston my home!” — Victoria, Boston

“If word gets out how good it is in Mass., people will flood here from other states, driving up the price of everything. Let’s keep it our little secret.”

Sounds about right — Jersey’s No. 1!

“I love Massachusetts. I miss Massachusetts but life recently brought me to New Jersey — the northwestern section. It’s beautiful and historic but close to both NYC and Philadelphia. While I miss instant access to the ocean, it has other benefits that stand out.” — Carlos, originally from Hyde Park

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“We moved around when I was younger. And NJ was the NICEST place with the nicest people. Only state we lived in where the neighbors came over brought milk, eggs, and bread for our first morning in our new house. Told my mom what families have kids our age, and the next morning those families came over and allowed me and my sibling to play with them and let my parents start to unpack. We’ve lived in several New England states and no other one treated us as warmly as NJ did.” — Anne, Shrewsbury

Here’s how Mass. compares to other states:

“I have also lived in NH, NY, PA, CA and WA and I think Massachusetts, while it has its faults, is the best state to live in for its politics, willingness to face up to its mistakes, its beauty, healthcare, education and BOSTON!”

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“New England as a whole rates right up there. Hard to separate the states out.” — Paul, Wendell

“Rhode Island is fun and other than the Paw Sox that they lost, it has a bunch of great restaurants and it’s always lively. Virginia should be up there too! Virginia Beach is amazing and warmer water, the food is the best of any in the world. A lot of historical museums and great weather.”

“I’ve only ever known two states: CT and Mass. CT is definitely better for raising kids (it’s where I grew up) and for either buying or building your own home, but Mass.’s economy and job opportunities blows CT away. Mass. is also a major cultural hub, between sports, arts, music, theatre and so on, and CT has very little of any of that. When all’s said and done I’d say Mass. is definitely the better pick of the two!” — Alex, Cambridge

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“Now living in ‘Anonymous City’ in Maryland. There is no comparison. Think Red Sox versus Orioles; lobsters versus crabs; real winter vs. ice; gorgeous fall vs. heat till November; a functioning government vs. a joke; a sense of history vs. none. I can’t figure out why I ever left Mass. Big mistake. Marblehead vs. ‘Anonymous City’ — not even close!” — Betsey, Maryland

“South Carolina: Much better than Mass. Very low property taxes, inexpensive rents, reasonably-priced housing. Downside: racial bias still prevalent. Florida: some advantages, i.e., quality of life and low taxes … But no culture; boring landscape; too many oldsters.” — Jim, Sarasota

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“The decision was probably made by your standard New Englanders who haven’t left New England yet think it’s the best place on earth (essentially all my relatives). The western part of the country is way more relaxing, still has strong job markets and wages (places like Colorado), and people there live in beautiful scenery while valuing things other than just work and education. Sorry Massachusetts, I love you but have to put you somewhere 8-12 rather than 2.”

“Left Mass. four years ago to live in the beautiful state of Colorado. Never once regretted the decision. Colorado has wonderful weather (mild winters, no humidity, abundant sunshine), a healthier economy than Mass., no crazy traffic, and folks are more accepting of opposing political views. Just one last thing, don’t move to Colorado … it’s horrible!” — Ryan, formerly of Milford 

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“Mass. is terrible. Too socialist. I lived in Florida and Texas over the past few years and those still feel like the USA — a country where business drive, prosperity and freedom of speech and thought used to be valued. Not so in Massachusetts. Not anymore.” — Alex, Boston

“We will move to Naples, Florida by September. Here in Mass. is too cold, heating and snow removal cost us a fortune every year, also too windy.” — Joan, Belmont

“I’ve lived up and down the East Coast and Mass. would not make my top 5. Been in NH for 20 years and this purple state should be No. 1.” — Mike on the Seacoast

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Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.

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