10 States Where Youth Rules

Where can young adults go to find employment, affordable living and a youth-oriented lifestyle? This list has 10 suggestions based on economic and lifestyle factors.
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See the latest feature on the best states for young adults

Times are tough for young adults. Jobs are hard to find, and the amount of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. is staggering. Still, there are some states where conditions are much more favorable to young people.

In an exclusive analysis of nine economic and lifestyle factors, MoneyRates has identified 10 states where youth rules. For young people looking to get a strong start in life, these 10 states might be good places to find opportunity. Here are the criteria that determined the rankings:

Economic factors:

  • Employment for young people, based on the unemployment rate among people age 20-24, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Insurance costs for young drivers, based on figures from Insure.com.
  • Cost of a college education, based on an average of public and private four-year annual college tuition costs, as reported by The College Board.
  • Affordability of housing, based on median rental costs from the Census Bureau.

Lifestyle factors:

  • Youth-oriented retailing, based on the number of Abercrombie & Fitch stores per million residents. While A&F might not be to everyone’s taste, it is a good indicator of the amount of youth-oriented retailing in a given place.
  • Nightlife, based on the number of bars in the state that made Esquire Magazine’s list of the Best Bars in America per million residents.
  • Healthfulness, for those who prefer mornings in the gym to nights on the town, MoneyRates also included data on the number of each state’s fitness clubs from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).
  • The youthfulness of the state, is based on Census Bureau figures for the percentage of the state’s population in the 18-24 age group.
  • Availability of living space, based on rental vacancy rates from the Census Bureau.

10 states where youth rules

Analyzing this data revealed some surprising top performers. Here are the states that came out on top:

North Dakota1. North Dakota

While North Dakota may not be the first place you think of when it comes to youth culture, given how tough things are for young people these days, it might be wise to look somewhere off the beaten path. North Dakota’s booming economy gave it very high marks across the board in economic categories, and it did just well enough in the lifestyle categories to grab the top spot.


South Dakota2. South Dakota

Not surprisingly, South Dakota’s profile is very similar to its northern neighbor’s. It does very well on economic factors affecting young people, and holds its own on lifestyle factors.



Iowa3. Iowa

According to Insure.com, Iowa has the cheapest average auto insurance premiums in the 20-24 age bracket. On the lifestyle side, it also has a very high number of fitness clubs and top-rated bars relative to its population.



Montana4. Montana

Like Iowa, Montana has a surprisingly high number of health clubs and top-rated bars for its population size. It’s also a good place to find inexpensive rents, college tuition and youth insurance rates.



Nebraska5. Nebraska

Though it does not score particularly well in the lifestyle categories, Nebraska is the second-easiest state (behind North Dakota) for young people to find a job. Nebraska also offers low rental and education costs.



Delaware6. Delaware

College costs are very low in this state, and there are a surprising amount of top-rated bars and youth-oriented stores for such a small state. Just try to live in a city where you can use public transportation, though, since Insure.com reports that Delaware has the nation’s highest auto insurance premiums in the 20-24 age group.


Vermont7. Vermont

This state’s population is one of the nation’s more youthful, and they’re into fitness too: Based on IHRSA figures, Vermont has more fitness clubs per capita than any other state. But you might want to put off moving there until after college, since average four-year tuition costs are among the highest in the nation.


Alaska8. Alaska

Since it is one of the most youthful states in the country, perhaps it should be no surprise that Alaska offers some attractive stats in most of the lifestyle categories — if you don’t mind the cold, of course. The tough part is finding a place to live: According to the Census Bureau, Alaska has the nation’s lowest rental vacancy rate.


Utah9. Utah

While not great on most lifestyle factors, Utah has very low unemployment among young adults, and the lowest average cost of four-year colleges.



New Hampshire10. New Hampshire

Despite scoring high on the availability of bars, fitness clubs and youth-oriented stores, New Hampshire’s population is relatively low on young adults. That’s a pity, because unemployment for that demographic is relatively low there.

Again, it’s an unconventional list, but there must be something to it: Eight of the 10 states listed above have a greater portion of 18 to 24-year-olds than most states, so they are attracting young people. If you are a young adult looking for a more welcoming environment, you might want to join them.

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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