Best States for Young Adults 2014

Young adults might find more welcoming conditions in these U.S. states today, according to a new study.
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Young people see things differently from their elders. There have always been numerous reasons for this, but today, one of the most prominent may be the challenging economic picture faced by people at the start of their careers.

To determine which places are best suited to people at that point, MoneyRates looked at a combination of economic and lifestyle factors — eight of them in total — to determine the best and worst states (plus the District of Columbia) for young adults.

The best places in the U.S. for young people

Here are the factors MoneyRates examined for this study:

  • Employment for people aged 20 to 24.
  • The youthfulness of a state’s population is based on the percentage of residents aged 20 to 24.
  • Affordability of in-state college tuition, based on figures from the College Board.
  • The availability of rental accommodations.
  • The median cost of rentals.
  • Degree of access to high-speed broadband.
  • The number of bars and nightclubs per capita.
  • The number of fitness facilities per capita, based on tallies from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.

Based on their rankings in the above categories, these are the best states for young adults in 2014:

  1. North Dakota. If it surprises you to see North Dakota ranked as the best state for young adults, consider this: It has a higher proportion of 20- to 24-year-olds than any other state, so it must be doing something to attract young people. Actually, it’s doing a number of things — North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate for young adults and the fourth cheapest rents. However, the appeal of North Dakota is not all about economics. The state also has the second-highest number of nightspots per capita.
  2. Iowa. The main strengths of Iowa in this study were its top-10 rankings in youth employment, rental affordability, and the number of nightspots per capita. The state’s only below-average ranking was for rental availability, as the vacancy rate is relatively low. A significant improvement in broadband access helped the state climb from fifth last year to the No. 2 slot this year.
  3. Nebraska. The strongest characteristic of Nebraska is having one of the lowest unemployment rates for young adults, and it also ranks in the top 10 for rental affordability.
  4. South Dakota. Though it slipped a couple of notches from last year, South Dakota still made the top 10 thanks largely to being among the five best states for youth employment and rental affordability. South Dakota is also a good state for staying healthy, with one of the highest levels of fitness facilities per capita in the nation.
  5. Wyoming. This state has the lowest in-state tuition costs for four-year public colleges and also ranks in the top 10 in young adult employment and nightspots per capita. These strengths were enough to help the state overcome a poor ranking for broadband access.
  6. Montana. Despite ranking in the bottom 10 for rental availability and broadband access, Montana was able to reach sixth place overall because of its top-10 rankings in five categories: employment for young adults, affordability of tuition, rental costs, nightspots per capita, and fitness facilities per capita.
  7. Oklahoma. This state has one of the lowest rates of unemployment for young adults, which is good because its population is also one of the nation’s youngest. Other strengths were top-10 rankings for rental availability and affordability. As good as the economic factors are, Oklahoma may not be the state for you if you like to party — it has one of the lowest numbers of nightspots per capita.
  8. Kansas. The strongest category for Kansas is a top-10 ranking for broadband access. It is above average in most other categories, though it comes up short for nightlife and the number of fitness facilities per capita.
  9. Louisiana. You might think that Louisiana made the top 10 on the strength of its nightlife, but it actually ranked higher for health clubs per capita than for nightspots. Be advised, though, that this is not the best state for finding a job — the one category where Louisiana was below average was in employment for young adults.
  10. District of Columbia. The District gets top marks for youthfulness and access to broadband and has the second-highest number of fitness facilities per capita. The main drawback is that rents are the second-highest in the nation.

States like North Dakota and Iowa may not be the first to come to mind when you think of youth culture. However, these days things like being able to find a job and afford an apartment should not be taken for granted, and those are some of the things that make life much more welcoming to young adults in the states listed above.

Also see MoneyRates’s list of the Worst States for Young People and the full 50-state rankings.

Richard Barrington, a Senior Financial Analyst at MoneyRates, brings over three decades of financial services expertise to the table. His insightful analyses and commentary have made him a sought-after voice in media, with appearances on Fox Business News, NPR, and quotes in major publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His proficiency is further solidified by the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, highlighting Richard’s depth of knowledge and commitment to financial excellence.
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