North Dakota Tops List of Best States for Young Adults While New Hampshire Ranks Worst

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A new analysis of economic and lifestyle factors finds that North Dakota is the best U.S. state for young adults.

Everyone has their biases, so some people do a double-take when we say North Dakota is the best state for young people, but the whole point of doing this study is to find conditions that may not be so obvious.

North Dakota is the best U.S. state for young adults, according to a new study by personal finance website On the other end of the list, New Hampshire ranks as the worst state for young adults.

The study ranks every U.S. state and the District of Columbia in accordance with their performance across eight factors chosen for their relevance to young people:

  •     Youth employment
  •     The youthfulness of the state’s population
  •     Affordability of in-state college tuition
  •     Rental availability
  •     Rental costs
  •     High-speed broadband access
  •     Bar and nightclubs per capita
  •     Fitness clubs per capita

North Dakota claimed the top spot via strong scores across the majority of categories, including the lowest unemployment rate for young adults and the highest proportion of 20- to 24-year-old residents in the nation.

Richard Barrington, CFA, senior financial analyst for, says that while North Dakota may seem like a counterintuitive winner, the high proportion of young people already living in the state suggests that there may be good reasons for its ranking.

“Everyone has their biases, so some people do a double-take when we say North Dakota is the best state for young people,” says Barrington. “But the whole point of doing this study is to find conditions that may not be so obvious. Someone thinking conventionally might not immediately pick North Dakota as a great place for young adults to live, but when you look at how high the percentage of 20- to 24-year-olds is in the state, there must be something to the combination of attractions that we found.”

Rounding out the list of the top-10 states are Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana and the District of Columbia.

New Hampshire heads the list of the worst states for young people, propelled by a combination of high rents, high college costs and low availability of high-speed broadband and nightlife. Additionally, its proportion of residents 20- to 24-years-old is the third lowest in the nation.

The rest of the bottom 10 states are Washington, Arizona, Virginia, Maine, Kentucky, New Jersey, California, Vermont and Oregon.

Barrington admits that some of the states on the worst list, such as California, may surprise people, but that the rankings may reflect recent – but significant – changes in the economic landscape.

“It’s a surprising list, until you think how much the economic environment of recent years has shaken things up,” says Barrington. “Also, a tech-savvy generation is less dependent on being in a major population center in order to communicate with a wide circle of friends.”

Barrington adds that the point of the list isn’t to dissuade young people from considering the worst states, but rather to suggest new possibilities they may not have considered before.

“Certainly, we are not saying young people should not live in those states,” says Barrington. “But if they are having a hard time getting their careers off the ground in those areas, they should be open to the idea that other states might be more welcoming.”

For more details on the study, please see the features on Best States for Young People, Worst States for Young People and the full 50-state rankings.

About has been a leading source of information on bank rates, personal finance, savings accounts and investing since 1999. The site seeks to provide the highest rates on CDs, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts. is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to find, research and select the products, services and brands that best meet their needs. The company is a leader in visitor-friendly marketing practices. For more information, please visit

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