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The 10 Best States to Be Young in America

Between crushing student debt and and a staggering 13.9 percent unemployment rate, there's no denying the recession has been unkind to America's young adults.

Even so, we may be putting too much focus on the big picture when it comes to gauging how badly young people are faring, says MoneyRates.com financial analyst Richard Barrington.

"There are so many stories about how difficult conditions are for young adults ... but one thing that we know is that conditions vary greatly from state to state," Barrington told Business Insider. "Probably the clearest example of that is the unemployment rate. While it's steadily remained around 9 percent nationally, in some states it's under 5 percent."

In a new study that hones in on where 20-24 year olds have the best shot at thriving in today's economy, Barrington analyzed 9 key lifestyle factors in all 50 states––including youth unemployment, education costs, car insurance, housing, nightlife, and overall healthfulness.

1. North Dakota

emjay / Flickr"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," Barrington suggests.

"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."

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 5.3% (The lowest of all 50 states)
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 12.05%
Average car insurance rate: $1,400
Average cost of higher education: $10,774
Median rental cost:  $564

2. South Dakota

Wikimedia CommonsSouth Dakota wins the runner-up slot with dirt cheap apartments for the young residents that fill its borders. It also has a relatively low unemployment rate.
 
The only sector where it's lacking? "Youth-oriented retailing," Barrington says.

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 8.4%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 10.01%
Average car insurance rate:  $1,338
Average cost of higher education: $14,900
Median rental cost: $562

3. Iowa

Wikimedia CommonsDrivers will dig Iowa for its insurance premiums, which are the lowest in the nation, according to Insure.com. It beats out just about every other state on this list in rental rates, too.

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 11.3%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 10.04%
Average car insurance rate: $1,220
Average cost of higher education: $17,057
Median rental cost:  $611

4. Montana


norris baby / FlickrMontana ranks high for low rental costs and a relatively cheap college tuition.

Bonus: "It has a surprisingly high number of health clubs and top-rated bars for its population size," Barrington says.

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 14.7%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 9.56%
Average car insurance rate: $1,634
Average cost of higher education: $14,431
Median rental cost:  $627

5. Nebraska

zachd1_618 / FlickrNebraska isn't just a bargain for retirees. Young people can find rental rates more than $150 below the national average and have a far greater chance at scoring a job than in most other states.

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 7.9%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 9.99%
Average car insurance rate: $1,646
Average cost of higher education: $13,574
Median rental cost:  $644

6. Delaware

The Delaware Art Museum / jb912 / FlickrOn top of low tuition rates, "There are a surprising amount of top-rated bars and youth-oriented stores for such a small state," Barrington notes.

"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."

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 11.4%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 10.12%
Average car insurance rate: $3,006
Average cost of higher education: $12,192
Median rental cost:  $949

7. Vermont


mahalie / FlickrClear across the country from youthful Alaska, Vermont is also high on the young worker scene.

"They're into fitness too," Barrington says. "Based on [International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association] 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."

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 12.8%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 10.37%
Average car insurance rate: $1,566
Average cost of higher education: $23,361
Median rental cost:  $829

8. Alaska

alaskandude / Flickr"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," says Barrington.

"The tough part is finding a place to live: According to the Census Bureau, Alaska has the nation's lowest rental vacancy rate."

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 12.80%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 10.54%
Average car insurance rate: $1,925
Average cost of higher education: $15,431
Median rental cost: $1,007

9. Utah

Sothebys International RealtyWith nearly more than 11 percent of its residents in the 20-24 year age bracket, Utah has far more going for it than stunning scenery.

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

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 8.5%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 11.51%
Average car insurance rate: $1,733
Average cost of higher education: $5,745
Median rental cost:  $793

10. New Hampshire

bdthomas / FlickrYou'll pay more to attend a four-year university in New Hampshire, but cash-strapped college grads can take comfort in its decent employment rate for young workers.

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

Stats:
Youth unemployment rate: 8.7%
Percentage of population aged 20-24: 9.3%
Average car insurance rate: $1,631
Average cost of higher education: $26,234
Median rental cost:  $918

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