Locating Your Retreat : The Freest, and The Most Small Business Friendly States

A very detailed new survey maps states by their Freedom Ranking.
A very detailed new survey maps states by their Freedom Ranking.

Two studies have recently been published, one ranking the states from freest to least free, and the other ranking from most small business friendly to least small business friendly.

The two studies, conducted by different organizations and with different parameters, still showed some similarities in their findings, which is unsurprising because the philosophy of freedom vs state control spans both our business and our personal lives.

It should go without saying that we will be more comfortable in a state that ranks positively in both these dimensions.

Free/Not Free Survey

The Mercatus Center of the George Mason University has just published its third annual (2013) ranking of states in terms of personal freedom.

The ranking measures attributes in three broad areas – fiscal policy, regulatory policy and personal freedom.  Most prominence was given to tax burden (28.6% of the total 100% index), the legal liability system (11.5%), victimless crime impacts (9.8%) real property rights (7.6%) and gun control (6.6%).

Many other attributes were also evaluated in what is a truly comprehensive evaluation of the states, with the states ranked and scored separately for each attribute, so if you wish to change the weightings and rescore the states to better reflect your own priorities, you have the raw data to do so.

It also provides extensive narrative discussion on methodology and other considerations, and then provides an aggregate ranking.

The top ten states and their scores (max score = 100) were

Rank    State    Score   
1 ND 66.6
2 SD 61.3
3 TN 60.8
4 NH 55.6
5 OK 47.9
6 ID 43.2
7 MO 37.6
8 VA 37.3
9 GA 36.6
10 UT 35.7


The worst five states, all getting minus scores, were

Rank    State    Score   
46 RI – 40.4
47 HI – 67.3
48 NJ – 78.8
49 CA – 85.8
50 NY – 150.2


And the American Redoubt States

Rank    State    Score   
29 E WA 5.6
28 E OR 8.0
6 ID 43.2
12 MT 29.5
36 WY – 15.8


You can see the full report here.

Small Business Friendly States

Maybe you want to have your own business, and maybe you’ll eventually move to your retreat full-time.  Even if you don’t have or won’t start/buy a business, there’s a clear correlation between a state that interferes with its small businesses and a state that interferes with its citizens.

Thumbtack, in conjunction with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, have just published their second annual ranking of states in terms of perceived small business friendliness.  In addition to ranking states, they also rank 57 major metropolitan regions and a further 73 regions in comparative terms.  Information was gathered from a survey of small business owners, held over a two month period, with 7776 responses received in total.

We view this survey as being more qualitative than the first survey on freedom, which is more abstract and quantitative.  But even so, it gives another helpful perspective, even if primarily on how selected small business owners rate their states and regions compared to their perceptions of how they should perform (perceptions which of course vary from region to region).

These regional variances in perceptions perhaps explain why states such as CA and NY don’t come 49th and 50th respectively.

There were eleven main factors scored, ranging from ‘overall small business friendliness’ to specifics of various regulations and tax procedures, labor and zoning laws, and so on.

Because of the ‘fuzzier’ nature of the data, the survey ranks states on a nine-point scale from A+ to C-, and then with three failing grades, D+, D and F.

Twelve states got A+, A or A- grades.

Rank    State    Grade   
1 UT A+
2 AL A+
3 NH A+
4 ID A+
5 TX A
6 VA A
7 KS A
8 CO A
9 SC A-
10 GA A-
11 MN A-
12 NV A-


Nine states got failing grades.

Rank    State    Grade   
42 NY D+
43 PA D+
44 CT D+
45 MI D
46 IL D
47 CA D
48 HI F
49 MI F
50 RI F


And the American Redoubt States (with insufficient data received to rank MT and WY)

Rank    State    Score   
MT no data
WY no data


You can see the full report here.


Please add the information in these two new reports to other information you are collating from other sources when choosing the state to set up your retreat in.

Please also see the many other posts in our section on Where to Locate Your Retreat for other factors and considerations.

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