Many people dream of living forever—but most of us would probably just settle for a nice, long life. As it turns out, a new study out of Stanford, MIT, Harvard, McKinsey, and the U.S. Treasury may just hold the answers on where in the United States is best for people of any income to maximize their lives.
Their study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at income versus life expectancy in a sample involving more than 1.4 billion person-year observations of Americans between the ages of 40 to 76. After comparing the taxes people earned to life expectancy and where they lived, they found some places were better than the rest for living longer, depending on your income. (Hint: It’s definitely not Las Vegas, Nevada, or Gary, Indiana, both of which ranked as either the worst or second worst depending on income levels.)
Health conscious? These are the 10 Healthiest Cities in America
For those in the bottom income quartile (the 25% of Americans who earn the least), here are the best options to hit a ripe old age:
1. New York, New York
If you wanna wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep, you now have an even better reason to make the move—because New York tops the charts for life expectancy for those with a lower income. Men, on average, live to 79.5, while women top at 84. New York was also the second best state overall for living a long life.
2. Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara—which ranks as the number one city to retire, incidentally—is somewhat infamous for being expensive to live in. However, the bottom quartile lives to almost the exact same ages as New York—men average at 79.4 years, and women at 84, and it’s not surprising—California was the study’s longest-lived state for those of lower incomes, and Santa Barbara has ranked in our 100 Best Places to Live for three years running.
3. San Jose, California
As mentioned before, California is the best state in general for living the longest with a lower income, so San Jose isn’t such a huge surprise. Like the rest of California, the average amounts of smoking, obesity, and exercise (San Jose is the 20th most walkable city in America, after all) translate to an average life expectancy of 79.5 for men and 83.7 for women.
Now, for those of you in the highest income quartile (top 25% of earners) in America, there is an entirely different set of cities to help you reach a ripe, old age:
1. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City came in at number one for life expectancy—perhaps not unexpectedly. Salt Lake has been listed in our 100 Best Places to Live for three years running, and it ranked in the Top 10 Best Downtowns last year. Men live on average to the age of 86.6 years, while women top out at 89 years.
2. Portland, Maine
With an average age of 86.8 for men and 88.7 for women, the largest city in Maine serves its higher earners well. Besides having the most restaurants per capita of any metropolitan area in the U.S., it’s also one of our 99 Best Beer Cities, our Best Cities for Affordable Healthcare, and our 100 Best Places to Live for two years in a row.
3. Spokane, Washington
Women in Spokane lived longer than anywhere else, with an average life expectancy of 89.2 years. The men, meanwhile, came in at a respectable 86.1 years. Of course, being a haven for people who love the outdoors (thanks to its being surrounded by stunning mountains, forests, and lakes, and its relative proximity Canada and Idaho), it seems only natural that those from Spokane have the health to live a long life.