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The Freest States For Off-Grid Living, Ranked 1-50

The Freest States For Off-Grid Living, Ranked 1-50

Image source: Cato


WASHINGTON — New Yorkers enjoy the least freedom in America, while New Hampshire citizens enjoy the most, according to a new report, Freedom in the 50 States, that examines the best states in which to live.  

The report by the Cato Institute examines everything from tax laws to gun laws to government regulation to education freedom and found that the five freest states are:

  1. New Hampshire
  2. Alaska
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Indiana
  5. South Dakota

The five states with the least freedom are:

  1. Maryland
  2. New Jersey
  3. Hawaii
  4. California
  5. New York

Although the report was not aimed solely at homesteaders and off-gridders, its emphasis on economic and personal freedom makes it invaluable for those who enjoy a rural life, free of government regulation.

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“New York is again the least free state in the country,” survey authors William Ruger and Jason Sorens wrote, noting that New York was dead last in 2015.

The reasons why the Empire State came in No. 50 in the freedom survey include:

  • A local tax burden twice that of the average state.
  • Local taxes consuming 7.8 percent of the average New Yorker’s income.
  • The nation’s strictest gun control laws.
  • Laws that make it perhaps the worst state for homeschooling.

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of New Yorkers are leaving the state, and it has an annual migration rate of -11.2 percent.

New Hampshire is ranked first because it combines “relatively high scores on both personal and economic freedom,” the authors noted.

Some of the reasons why New Hampshire ranked so high include:

  • State taxes as a share of personal income at 2.8 percent.
  • Local taxes as a share of income at 4.8 percent.
  • One of the best states for gun rights; there are almost no restrictions on concealed and open carry.

Ruger and Soren calculated freedom in each state using more than 230 variables. Some of these included land-use regulations, insurance requirements, licensing, gun rights and asset forfeiture. Cato is a libertarian think tank.

The Freest States For Off-Grid Living, Ranked 1-50

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These rankings were divided into three broad categories: regulatory policy, personal freedom and fiscal policy. Regulatory policy is a measure of how much freedom businesses have in a state, personal freedom is a ranking of individual liberty, and fiscal policy is a measure of the level of taxes and government spending.

The study found that personal liberty and economic freedom do not always go together.

“Texas is one of the economically freest and personally least free states in the country,” the survey authors said.

The authors also discovered a correlation between the number of people leaving a state and economic freedom. Between the last survey in 2012 and this year’s survey, California had a net migration rate of -4.9 percent – meaning nearly 5 percent of the population left the state. During the same period, Texas had a net migration rate of +6.7 percent.

Following is Cato’s complete list:

  1. New Hampshire
  2. Alaska
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Indiana
  5. South Dakota
  6. Tennessee
  7. Idaho
  8. Florida
  9. Iowa
  10. Arizona
  11. Colorado
  12. Nevada
  13. North Dakota
  14. Wyoming
  15. South Carolina
  16. Kansas
  17. Montana
  18. Missouri
  19. North Carolina
  20. Utah
  21. Virginia
  22. Georgia
  23. Alabama
  24. Michigan
  25. Nebraska
  26. Pennsylvania
  27. Wisconsin
  28. Texas
  29. Arkansas
  30. New Mexico
  31. Delaware
  32. Washington
  33. Massachusetts
  34. Louisiana
  35. Ohio
  36. Mississippi
  37. Oregon
  38. Minnesota
  39. West Virginia
  40. Vermont
  41. Kentucky
  42. Maine
  43. Rhode Island
  44. Illinois
  45. Connecticut
  46. Maryland
  47. New Jersey
  48. Hawaii
  49. California
  50. New York

Learn more at Freedom in the 50 States.

What is your reaction? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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  1. Some of Cato’s methodology is odd. For example, they say that adding even one local gov’t per 100 square miles would have jumped Montana from 17 to 15. We don’t have enough PEOPLE per 100 square miles for such a thing to be practical. For example, the county I live in has a population of 7500 people, half of whom live in the one incorporated town. So the rest of a county the size of the state of Delaware has 3700 people scattered around it. The almost nonexistent hand of county government suits us fine. What do we need more town governments for?

    • Heather, I couldn’t agree with you more. More town governments represent one more level of rulers and regulations. How can that possibly make us more free?? The two incorporated towns in my county have some building regulations and restrictions. Out here in the county, there are no zoning laws and no building codes. That’s freedom, not the other way around! CATO missed the boat on that call.

    • Because they’re cucktarians. All of the free state idiots that now infest new Hampshire (and are ruining it) are really just Marxist scum bags. Anyone that thinks more government could provide any freedom is delusional. Only the absence of government provides freedom. The problem is, most of the so called anarchists are complete degenerates that work against what they claim to want.

  2. saw this list a while ago when i found a report saying that some anarchists were going to move to new hampshire and try to start a community there. too cold for me 🙂
    i’m staying in arizona (number 10 woo hoo)
    sincerely christian anarchist

  3. I wasn’t a bit surprised to see illinois way down at #44.

  4. I’m not surprised to see Tennessee at 6 but I’m shocked to see Florida at 8, you can’t do anything on your own property without a permit, it’s ridiculous.

  5. One thing I would like to know is did they that in mind how much land is owned by the federal government in each state I myself would factor this in before moving anywhere

  6. I was mildly surprised that California ranked so low. Makes this native son consider moving.

    • That seems a little odd that you thing it would be higher. California is the strictest state I know next to New York. Strict gun laws, strict regulations for the simplest of things. California is just generally strict. (In my option anyways.)

  7. I would like your permission to reprint this article in my Dying Time newsletter, in which I share tips for Preppers and Survivalists. Please visit my website to check me out.

    Thank You

  8. shhhh,
    dont tell everyone how awesome indiana is . ive built my own rural home twice by knocking down a worn out house and building back ( slowly ) what i preferred to live in . my latest one sits in 3 acres of forest and boasts a mortgage payment of 192 . 00 per month . property taxes about 130 . 00 per half year . burn firewood , drink rainwater . no homeowners replacement insurance . bank carries protection insurance for their investment — 125 . 00 per year . deer mill about in herds altho i dont eat them . pork is cheap and much less work to obtain . electricity costs 2 bucks per day .

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