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10 states where youth rules 2012

| MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA
min read

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.com 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 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.com 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, 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.

Gerald 24 July 2013 at 2:04 pm

I live in Bismarck, North Dakota and I think the quality of life is fantastic for youth and middle aged people for that matter. Jobs are certainly available all over the place, there is plenty to do in all four seasons for recreation (boating, skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, biking, parks, trails, clubs, entertainment, nightlife, to name some of the things I choose to do) you can get to anywhere in the world if you want to hop on a plane, low crime, it's safe, plenty of health care and universities and — the people are very, very friendly.Like everything, it is what you make of it. Someone mentioned alcohol. I don't know if it's more of a problem here than any other state. Unfortunately, it's something every state has to deal with. Personally, I don't see it when I am out and about by myself or with friends. I don't need it to enjoy life.I really enjoy the experience of all four seasons here in Bismarck. The spring time temps range from 50s to 70s, the summers are 70s to 90s, fall can be 30s to 60s - my favorite and winter is usually single digits to 40s. Since I have been here, 1990, I thought the winters would be bad because of what misinformed people unfamiliar with the area would say or people on national TV would say. The winters really have been quite tolerable and enjoyable. We hardly get any snow compared to Minneapolis and Chicago. So, the winter is a non-factor and an enjoyment.I can get to anywhere in the world from Bismarck and the recreation is outstanding. I recommend North Dakota — especially Bismarck to anyone.

Paul 4 February 2013 at 8:31 am

I know some of the Location Snobs think ONLY SF, Ca or NY,NY, Etc., are worthy of THEIR EXALTED PRESENCE, but having lived four years in Boise,Idaho during the Sixties, I learned to love it there. Also the weather in Boise was VERY similar to that I later experienced in Charlotte, NC. Never got more than a foot of snow at one time and itwas never a real problem.

VEE A 8 October 2012 at 3:52 am

New Hampshire seems amazing!

Joe Batcheller 2 October 2012 at 4:58 pm

Where's the survey of values held by younger generations? It appears MoneyRates.com has presumptuously assigned their own values to younger generations in order to produce a result that favors states with lax financial regulation: e.g. SD, DE, etc.

Richard Barrington 20 September 2012 at 7:31 pm

A couple of general comments:While part of the fun of producing lists is to start a discussion, those discussions are more fruitful if people suggest alternate criteria rather than simply knocking the approach because they don't agree with the conclusions.One reason we take a quantitative approach to these things is to let the data speak rather than being subject to our own or anyone else's biases. Clearly, some people perceive negative characteristics about some of these states, but it can be eye opening to have some hard facts point out the positive characteristics. After all, it's easy enough to say "who would want to live there," but the fact is there are a great many people living quite happily in these states.In short, what we hope for is that these lists make you think, rather than simply confirm popular perceptions. In any case, love the list or hate it, we do learn from reader's comments, so please keep them coming!

Lisa 2 September 2012 at 11:52 pm

There's a serious flaw with this. As a resident of western North Dakota where the high paying jobs for youth are readily available, you're using housing costs from 2 (almost 3) years ago. Are there jobs and money here? Absolutely. Car insurance is cheap and it's a healthy state. HOWEVER anyone who has done any sort of research on the state knows that there is a serious housing problem here right now. It's not as bad as the east, but hitting Bismarck and going west you will see that housing prices and rent has steadily inflated. If you're looking to work in the oil boom you better hope the company provides housing. If not, you'll be homeless. There's an RV ban now in Williston, there is a moratorium on man camps in the counties that are most busy with oil traffic. IF you can find a room to rent you're looking at $1,000 minimum but you can go years up here without finding a place to rent. If you can buy then that's great, but again the price will be far more than you expect.I really wish people would stop telling people that North Dakota is the place to go. The state is overloaded with people flocking here for work and we have wound up with people living out of cars, in tents, and under bridges. Then they leave once winter hits.

John 2 September 2012 at 8:07 pm

I grew up in Nebraska and Iowa and I can tell you that living in either place is NOT living; it's a tolerable existence, at best! The people are ultra-conservative and closed-minded, religious hypocrites! The weather is brutal in the winter and hot and humid in the summer and there are no professional sports teams (notwithstanding The University of Nebraska whose players typically take a cut in pay when (if) they go pro) ;-) In fact, conventional medical treatment for terminally ill patients is to suggest they take up residency in Nebraska, Iowa or Kansas. It's not because they'll live longer but, it will certainly FEEL like it!

Sara 29 August 2012 at 7:51 pm

Who would really want to live in a majority of these states?!

michael 29 August 2012 at 6:24 pm

That is the most pathetic excuse for a methodology I've seen since my first year Analyst brought me something in his first week.Those who can do write for money-rates.com

Jim 29 August 2012 at 4:29 pm

I would rather be unemployed and homeless than live in any of these states. How can you publish these results with a straight face?

Chris 28 August 2012 at 5:29 pm

Have you ever been to North Dakota? It's horrible. Alcoholism is rampant and it's really depressing. Not to mention it's really, really cold. Why don't you move there and see how awesome it is before telling people it's such a great place.