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The Best States for New College Graduates To Start a Life

Joel Anderson

Graduating from college initiates a time of great change. Finding a job and starting a new life postgraduate represents a big step into adulthood. It’s also significantly more or less difficult depending on where you live. That’s because being aware of the best places to live after college can make figuring out where to find a job, affording an apartment and even where to buy your first home that much easier.

That’s why GOBankingRates conducted a study to look at all the different potential factors that might impact that decision, including the cost of rent, how many years it would take to save up for a 20% down payment, livability and unemployment environment. Each category was then scored and added up to determine a final ranking of the best states to live in after college.

50. Nevada


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 15.6%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.3%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $47,109
  • Median home price: $312,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 13.25
  • Median rent: $1,500
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 38.2%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 4.3%
  • Livability score: 48

Nevada has a relatively low percentage of the population that’s 25 or older and has a college degree, which might speak to just how relatively rough the job market can be for college graduates there. The 4.3% unemployment rate among that population is the highest in the country.

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49. Hawaii


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21.2%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.4%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $49,455
  • Median home price: $635,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 25.68
  • Median rent: $2,300
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 55.8%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.3%
  • Livability score: 53

While the selling points for moving to Hawaii in your 20s shouldn’t require much elaboration, it’s got one pretty major downside: It’s very expensive. The median home price is the highest in the nation, and it would take about a full quarter century to save up enough for a down payment based on a median salary.

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48. Mississippi

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 13.3%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $41,660
  • Median home price: $179,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8.64
  • Median rent: $1,150
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 33.1%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3%
  • Livability score: 46

While Mississippi does have one of the most affordable median home prices out there, you might want to wait until your retirement to take advantage. The population of fellow graduates is relatively small, and the median income for that group is among the lowest. The state’s livability score is tied for the lowest in the study.

47. Florida


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18.2%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $45,077
  • Median home price: $295,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 13.09
  • Median rent: $1,800
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 47.9%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.7%
  • Livability score: 50

Neither the median salary of about $45,000 per year for college graduates nor the 3.7% unemployment rate among that group speaks strongly to the job prospects in the Sunshine State for recent college grads. It would take just over 13 years for you to save up for a down payment for an average house on an average salary.

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46. Idaho

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18.2%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.5%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $42,366
  • Median home price: $306,990
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 14.49
  • Median rent: $1,350
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 38.2%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.2%
  • Livability score: 52

While just 2.2% of Idaho’s college graduates are unemployed, the rest are earning a median salary of $42,366. And with homes that are just a little on the pricey side, it would take about 14 years before you could save up for a down payment on your first house.

45. New Mexico

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 15.1%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $43,954
  • Median home price: $224,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.23
  • Median rent: $1,200
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 32.8%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.1%
  • Livability score: 47

Just over 15% of the 25-and-older population in New Mexico has a bachelor’s degree, a sign that suggests there’s a relatively low rate of young people pursuing careers out there. And part of the issue could be the low livability score of 47, which is among the lowest in the study.

44. Montana

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 20.6%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.3%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $40,403
  • Median home price: $325,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 16.09
  • Median rent: $1,279
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 38%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.3%
  • Livability score: 51

While about one in five people ages 25 and above are college graduates in Montana, there’s a serious lack of earning power that’s coming to them because of their degree. That same group has a median income of just over $40,000 a year.

43. West Virginia


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 12%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $43,617
  • Median home price: $159,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 7.33
  • Median rent: $990
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 27.2%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.4%
  • Livability score: 50

If your primary focus is affordable housing, West Virginia might actually be one of your best options. With the lowest median home price in the country, you would need just over seven years on the job before you could afford a down payment to buy a house — a wait you’ll find easier with the nation’s lowest median rent. But, that’s clearly not drawing a lot of college graduates as just 12% of those 25 or older have a bachelor’s degree — the lowest such proportion in the nation.

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42. California

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 20.4%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $59,709
  • Median home price: $525,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 17.59
  • Median rent: $2,750
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 55.3%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 4.1%
  • Livability score: 51

If you are working, California is a much better option. The median salary for college graduates is just shy of $60,000 a year — among the highest on this list. However, with an average home costing over $500,000 and the second-highest unemployment rate for college graduates at 4.1%, there are clearly a lot of people who are finding the Golden State to be a tougher economic climate.

41. Oregon

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 20.1%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.9%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $46,429
  • Median home price: $374,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 16.15
  • Median rent: $1,700
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 43.9%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.5%
  • Livability score: 54

The main knock on Oregon is that it has a 3.5% unemployment rate among college graduates, but recent college grads are likely to find the combination of a below-average median salary and above-average home prices tough. It will take over 16 years to save up for your first down payment in Oregon.

40. Tennessee

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 16.5%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.8%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $46,024
  • Median home price: $245,100
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.65
  • Median rent: $1,295
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 33.8%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.7%
  • Livability score: 48

While the below-average median salary for college graduates in Tennessee is part of why it’s not among the stronger states for recent college graduates, the biggest issue appears to be the livability score of just 48 — among the country’s lowest.

39. Arkansas


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 14.1%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $45,805
  • Median home price: $172,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 7.55
  • Median rent: $1,050
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 27.5%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.2%
  • Livability score: 47

Just 14.1% of adults ages 25 and up in Arkansas have a college degree. And with a livability score of just 47, it’s possible they’re searching for more amenities in other states.

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38. Arizona

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 17.8%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.9%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $50,483
  • Median home price: $286,495
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 11.35
  • Median rent: $1,451
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 34.5%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.1%
  • Livability score: 48

After the low livability score of 48, there’s no one category where Arizona stands out. Unfortunately, though, it’s also just a little above average in terms of housing costs, which could be driving some recent graduates away from living there.

37. South Carolina

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 17.2%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.8%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $45,757
  • Median home price: $245,500
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.73
  • Median rent: $1,350
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 35.4%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.7%
  • Livability score: 49

While the relatively low median home price of $245,500 in South Carolina seems promising, the relatively low median salary for college graduates of $45,757 means it will take over a decade to save up a down payment on your first home.

36. Kentucky

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 13.6%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.5%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $46,223
  • Median home price: $185,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8
  • Median rent: $1,095
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 28.4%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.6%
  • Livability score: 48

Just 13.6% of the adult population in Kentucky has a college degree, which is among the lowest percentages in the country. The low livability score could be part of why more college grads aren’t calling Kentucky home.

35. Louisiana

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 15.3%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.4%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $47,974
  • Median home price: $212,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8.84
  • Median rent: $1,200
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 30%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.9%
  • Livability score: 48

At 7.4% of the population, the percentage of Louisianans who are between the ages of 25 and 29 is relatively high, and they’re living in a state where housing costs are generally pretty low. However, the livability score of 48 appears to be driving away a lot of college grads as just 15.3% of the adult population has a college degree.

34. Alabama

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 15.4%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $48,391
  • Median home price: $209,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8.64
  • Median rent: $1,000
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 24.8%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.7%
  • Livability score: 48

Alabama’s median rent is one of the lowest in the country, eating up about a quarter of a resident’s paycheck. But, there’s a livability score of just 48, and there’s a relatively small population of college graduates there — just 15.4% of people ages 25 and older have a degree.

33. Oklahoma


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 16.6%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $44,568
  • Median home price: $183,999
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8.26
  • Median rent: $1,000
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 26.9%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2%
  • Livability score: 46

One conclusion you might draw from this study would be around the correlation between low livability scores and low populations of college graduates, even when the affordability of housing is quite high. And Oklahoma is one clear test case. With the nation’s worst livability score of 46, just 16.6% of the adult population has a bachelor’s degree despite having some of the most affordable housing in America.

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32. Maine

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 19.3%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 5.8%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $42,761
  • Median home price: $239,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 11.18
  • Median rent: $1,700
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 47.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2%
  • Livability score: 55

The biggest knock on Maine for recent graduates is that you’re a lot less likely to meet people your own age, despite the fact the unemployment rate for people with a degree is just 2%. The 5.8% of the population age 25-29 represents one of the lowest proportions in America.

31. North Carolina

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 19.2%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $47,258
  • Median home price: $264,864
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 11.21
  • Median rent: $1,345
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 34.2%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3%
  • Livability score: 50

Rounding out the bottom 20 states for recent college graduates is North Carolina, which has another “death by a thousand cuts” economic environment. While no one area is especially bad, it’s below average in almost every category. Residents have to endure an 11-year waiting period to save up for their first down payment.

30. Georgia

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18.6%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $51,068
  • Median home price: $251,990
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 9.87
  • Median rent: $1,375
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 32.3%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.2%
  • Livability score: 48

Georgia actually has an above-average population of people ages 25-29, and college graduates are earning a little over $50,000 a year. However, its low livability score of 48 and 3.2% unemployment rate among college graduates drive it down this list.

29. Texas


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18.8%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.4%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $53,444
  • Median home price: $275,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.29
  • Median rent: $1,500
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 33.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.9%
  • Livability score: 49

Texas has a larger proportion of its population represented by young people than most states at 7.4%, and the median income for college grads of $53,444 is also stronger than most states. However, its 2.9% unemployment rate for people with degrees and livability score of 49 keep it ranked in the bottom half of the study.

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28. Delaware

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.9%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $53,958
  • Median home price: $284,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.56
  • Median rent: $1,380
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 30.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.9%
  • Livability score: 47

While Delaware’s median income among college grads and median rent are a little better than in most states, the low livability score of 47 drives it down to the bottom half of this study.

27. Wyoming

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 17.4%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.9%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $47,697
  • Median home price: $245,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.27
  • Median rent: $1,095
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 27.5%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 1.8%
  • Livability score: 53

Wyoming’s low median rent of $1,095 a month translates to just over a quarter of the average income going to rent, among the lowest rates in the country. However, with a lower median income than in most states, it still takes over a decade to save up enough for a down payment.

26. Utah

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21.5%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.4%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $47,035
  • Median home price: $360,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 15.31
  • Median rent: $1,495
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 38.1%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2%
  • Livability score: 54

The state of Utah is relatively young and well educated. Some 7.4% of the population are between the ages of 25 and 29 and 21.5% of adults have a college degree. But, with a median salary of about $47,000 and a median home price over $350,000, it will take the typical graduate over 15 years to save up for their first house.

25. Indiana

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 16.1%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.5%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $47,950
  • Median home price: $179,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 7.5
  • Median rent: $1,025
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 25.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.3%
  • Livability score: 51

Indiana might lag behind in how much of its population has a degree or is in their mid-to-late 20s, but its housing costs are among the best in the country, helping land it right in the middle of the rankings.

24. Alaska

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18.6%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 8.4%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $54,997
  • Median home price: $282,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.26
  • Median rent: $1,600
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 34.9%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.5%
  • Livability score: 49

Alaska’s population has the largest percentage of residents ages 25-29 in the country by a very wide margin, so there’s no state where recent college grads will be among more of their peers per capita. However, it doesn’t rate higher in the study due to a low livability score and high median rent.

23. Michigan

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 17.1%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.3%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $50,810
  • Median home price: $174,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 6.88
  • Median rent: $1,100
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 26%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.9%
  • Livability score: 50

While the livability score of 50 might deter some recent college grads, there are few places where it’s easier to afford to buy a house. It will take a typical recent grad just under seven years to save up for a down payment on an average home.

22. Vermont

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21.8%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 5.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $42,267
  • Median home price: $275,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 13.01
  • Median rent: $1,720
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 48.8%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.1%
  • Livability score: 55

Over one in five Vermonters has a bachelor’s degree, and that population has an unemployment rate of just 2.1%. However, recent grads moving there might need to be comfortable making older friends as just 5.7% of the state is between 25 and 29, the lowest proportion in the nation.

21. Missouri

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 17.5%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $46,434
  • Median home price: $179,500
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 7.73
  • Median rent: $995
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 25.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.3%
  • Livability score: 51

Missouri’s median rent of $995 is the second lowest in America after West Virginia, meaning just over a quarter of your income goes to rent based on an average income. And that’s despite the relatively low median salary for college grads of just $46,434.

20. Washington

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21.7%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.4%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $57,143
  • Median home price: $399,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 13.96
  • Median rent: $1,950
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 40.9%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3%
  • Livability score: 54

Washington’s biggest selling point would appear to be the employment prospects, despite the fact that the 3% unemployment rate among college graduates is higher than most states. But, those grads who do have a job are pulling down a median salary of $57,143, among the highest in the country.

19. South Dakota

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 19.5%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $42,085
  • Median home price: $219,500
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.43
  • Median rent: $1,100
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 31.4%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 1.1%
  • Livability score: 55

South Dakota boasts a nation-best 1.1% unemployment rate among college graduates. However, it also has the second-lowest median income for that same population at just $42,085.

18. Rhode Island

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 19.8%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $53,036
  • Median home price: $299,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 11.31
  • Median rent: $2,000
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 45.3%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.9%
  • Livability score: 52

While the median rent in Rhode Island is relatively high at $2,000 a month, the state’s median income is also relatively high, helping give this little state a big boost in the rankings.

17. New York

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 19.9%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $56,910
  • Median home price: $411,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 14.44
  • Median rent: $3,200
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 67.5%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.5%
  • Livability score: 58

The highest rent and the highest percentage of median income needed for that rent call the Empire State home, but the state also boasts a median income of nearly $57,000 and a relatively large portion of the population ages 25 to 29. All told, it’s among the top 20 states for recent college grads.

16. Colorado

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 24.8%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $51,093
  • Median home price: $420,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 16.44
  • Median rent: $1,900
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 44.6%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.9%
  • Livability score: 55

Colorado has the highest percentage of adults with a college degree out of the entire country. Pair that with a strong livability score of 55 and 7.6% of the population in the 25-29 age bracket, and it’s among the better states for recent grads.

15. Ohio

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 17%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $51,083
  • Median home price: $165,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 6.46
  • Median rent: $1,050
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 24.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.4%
  • Livability score: 52

The combination of Ohio’s $50,000-plus median salary among college grads and low median home price of $165,000 means that you would need just under 6 1/2 years to save up for your first down payment — the shortest such waiting period in the country.

14. Pennsylvania

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18.3%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $51,678
  • Median home price: $202,500
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 7.84
  • Median rent: $1,325
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 30.8%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.8%
  • Livability score: 53

While Pennsylvania is below the norm in terms of both the portion of the population with a college degree and the percentage of people ages 25-29, it has plenty of upsides that allow it to rank high in this study. The state has low home prices and relatively high median incomes for grads, and as a result, the waiting period to save up for a down payment comes in at under eight years.

13. New Hampshire

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 22.3%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 5.9%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $53,475
  • Median home price: $299,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 11.18
  • Median rent: $1,700
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 38.1%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.2%
  • Livability score: 53

New Hampshire’s population of people in their mid-to-late 20s is very low at 5.9%, but the state enjoys a relatively high median income for college grads and a low unemployment rate for that same group.

12. Illinois


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 20.5%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $54,646
  • Median home price: $230,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8.42
  • Median rent: $1,550
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 34%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.3%
  • Livability score: 52

Illinois’ 3.3% unemployment rate among college grads is high. However, the state finishes above most of the competition in almost every other category, putting it near the top of the results for this study.

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11. Wisconsin

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 19.2%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.2%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $50,081
  • Median home price: $209,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8.38
  • Median rent: $1,200
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 28.8%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2%
  • Livability score: 57

Just 6.2% of Wisconsin’s population is between the ages of 25 and 29, which might be surprising given the attractive housing prices and median income among college graduates that clears $50,000 a year.

10. Nebraska


  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 20.4%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $46,835
  • Median home price: $205,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 8.75
  • Median rent: $1,200
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 30.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 1.4%
  • Livability score: 55

It takes under nine years to save up for your first down payment based on an average home price and income in the Cornhusker State, which is among the lower such periods in the study.

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9. Kansas

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 20.6%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.6%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $47,667
  • Median home price: $176,475
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 7.4
  • Median rent: $1,095
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 27.6%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2%
  • Livability score: 52

You’ll be able to put down 20% on your first home inside of 7 1/2 in Kansas. And that’s on top of a median rent of just under $1,100, meaning you’ll spend just 27.6% of your paycheck on rent each month.

8. New Jersey

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 23.4%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.4%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $62,600
  • Median home price: $318,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.16
  • Median rent: $1,980
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 38%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.7%
  • Livability score: 53

The Garden State has a high density of college graduates, with nearly one in four adults holding a bachelor’s degree. But the real standout here is the median salary of $62,600 — the highest in the country.

7. Iowa

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 18.7%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.2%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $49,094
  • Median home price: $170,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 6.93
  • Median rent: $1,050
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 25.7%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 1.5%
  • Livability score: 57

While Iowa has a low portion of the population ages 25-29 and a relatively low density of college-educated adults, it also has the third-shortest wait to save up for your first home.

6. Virginia

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21.5%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $57,226
  • Median home price: $299,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.48
  • Median rent: $1,650
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 34.6%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.6%
  • Livability score: 52

About one in five adults in Virginia has a college degree, and their median income is over $57,000 a year. Pair that with a high proportion of the population between ages 25 and 29 at 7%, and it’s among the 10 best states for recent grads.

5. Connecticut

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21.5%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.1%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $61,933
  • Median home price: $314,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.17
  • Median rent: $1,750
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 33.9%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3.3%
  • Livability score: 53

While 3.3% of people with a college degree are unemployed, that’s counterbalanced by the second-highest median income for that group in the country at just under $62,000.

4. North Dakota

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21.1%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.9%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $46,945
  • Median home price: $224,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 9.54
  • Median rent: $1,300
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 33.2%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 1.1%
  • Livability score: 54

North Dakota has among the highest rates of people in their mid-to-late 20s at 7.9%, so recent college grads will have plenty of people their age in the state. What’s more, with an unemployment rate of just 1.1% for college grads — the nation’s lowest — you should have a relatively easy time finding work.

3. Minnesota

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 23%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 6.7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $53,925
  • Median home price: $275,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 10.2
  • Median rent: $1,600
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 35.6%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.1%
  • Livability score: 59

Minnesota’s adult population has a college degree at a roughly one in four rate. And they might be attracted to the state by its livability score of 59, the highest in the country.

2. Massachusetts

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 23.4%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7.2%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $60,715
  • Median home price: $439,900
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 14.49
  • Median rent: $2,600
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 51.4%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 3%
  • Livability score: 55

Massachusetts has a median income among college grads of over $60,000 a year, one of just four states that can make that claim. That and a relatively strong livability score of 55 has the state coming in second overall.

1. Maryland

  • Share of population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: 21%
  • Percentage of population ages 25-29: 7%
  • Median income for population ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree: $61,631
  • Median home price: $305,000
  • Years needed to afford down payment: 9.9
  • Median rent: $1,700
  • Percentage of income spent on rent: 33.1%
  • Unemployment rate for population with a bachelor’s degree: 2.8%
  • Livability score: 54

Maryland is above the median for both its percentage of adults with a college degree and percentage of the population ages 25-29. However, it’s the median income for college grads — the third highest in the country — that really helps Maryland seal the No. 1 slot in the study.

The Best States To Live In for Recent College Grads

Many of the top states for college grads also had the highest median incomes for people ages 25 and older. New Jersey, which ranked eighth overall, claimed the highest median income at $62,600. Following the state in that same category was Connecticut (fifth overall), Maryland (first overall) and Massachusetts (second overall). However, North Dakota bucks this trend with a median income of a little over $45,000 but an overall ranking of fourth.

Sometimes, finding the ideal location to work and live can be a bit tricky. There is often a difference between where you want to live and where you can afford to live. Some states with the highest-paying jobs are a bit pricey for recent college grads. But even if you can’t afford to live in your ideal location, you can find great alternatives with affordable median home prices and fantastic livability scores.

New York is home to a large number of young adults, with 7.6% of the population ages 25-29. The livability score is also one of the highest in this study at 58 — though its high rent might make it hard for you to live comfortably. Minnesota may not offer a big-city feel like New York, but the livability score is the highest in the country at 59. The median rent price is also manageable at $1,600.

It’s important to understand your financial situation before making a move. What other expenses do you have? Purchasing a home right out of college may not be the best option for you. Renting an apartment, even for the short term, can prove to be a more affordable option and will allow you to save money for your future home. Finding roommates could also reduce the financial burden that comes with owning or renting a house. Splitting the cost will help offset utilities and maintenance costs and will allow you to live in a bigger home with more space.

Keep reading to see amazing travel destinations you can actually afford to live in.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best states for new college graduates based on the following criteria: (1) share of the population 18 to 24 years old with a bachelor’s degree or higher, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; (2) share of the population 25 years or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher based on adding up the share of the population 25 years or older with a bachelor’s degree plus the share with a graduate or professional degree, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; (3) percentage of the population 20 to 29 years old, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; (4) median income for population 25 years or older with a bachelor’s degree, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; (5) median home price, sourced from Zillow’s February 2019 index; (6) number of years to save up to afford a home, based on saving 10% of annual income toward a 20% down payment on a median-priced home, with the current 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.12%, sourced from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; (7) rent affordability, based on the median rent price, sourced from Zillow’s February 2019 index, divided by the median income of individuals 25 years or older with a bachelor’s degree to find the percentage of income spent on rent; (8) job opportunity, based on the population with a bachelor’s degree that are unemployed, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; (9) livability score, sourced from AARP’s livability index. Each factor was given a score, added up and then ranked.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Best States for New College Graduates To Start a Life