What are the best states for young professionals to live in?

Are you ready for a change? Young adults all over the United States are considering relocating to grow their careers, take on new challenges, meet different people, or start fresh. If you’re one of them, you’re likely wondering where to begin. With 50 states and several territories within the United States, the options for your new home are endless.

Thankfully, we’re here to help! In this guide, we carefully evaluated all 50 states to find the top 5 best options for young adults. Whether you’re seeking a career challenge or just looking for a change of pace, these states offer the perfect blend of affordability, opportunity, and entertainment.

Let’s dive in.

The Best States for Young Adults 2024: An Overview

StateRegionCost of Living (compared to U.S. average)Median Income (one earner)Largest City
Georgia Southeast 10% lower $55,600 Atlanta 
Colorado West 6% higher $70,952 Denver 
South Carolina Southeast 6% lower $52,348 Charleston 
Oregon Pacific Northwest 12% higher $64,975 Portland 
Maine Northeast 15% higher $57,955 Portland 

What makes a state a great place to live in?

We used several statistics to know what made each state a good place to live in. Here’s a breakdown of what each statistic means and why we chose it:

  • Population Growth Rate: It’s important to know how many people are flocking to a particular state (or leaving a state). The highest growth rate of any state was 1.69% in 2022, while the lowest was -0.52%.
  • Median House Price: While the income level was detailed in the chart above, house prices are also important to know for those hoping to invest in real estate. The median home price is the “middle” value of home prices rather than an average, which helps control against outliers (like multi-million dollar mansions).
  • Job Opening Rate: Finding a job in the state you choose is incredibly important. We sourced the seasonally adjusted state job opening rates for each state. Keep in mind that the U.S. job opening rate was 5.3% overall.
  • Most Popular Cities: We pulled together the most popular cities in each state, based on those cities’ populations and the amount of people moving there.

The Top 5 Best States to Live in for Young Adults in 2024

For young adults who are growing their careers and looking for a place to call home, certain states stand out above the rest. These states not only offer job opportunities but also affordable living costs, vibrant cultural scenes, and a wide range of activities to keep your weekends busy.

Ready to decide which state is right for you? Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 best states for young adults in 2024.

#1: Georgia

The Peach State, renowned for its southern charm, hospitality, and growing population, is the perfect place for young adults to make their home. Georgia has a little bit of everything; you could live in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, in the rolling hills of the Piedmont Region in Atlanta, on the coast in Savannah, or along the Chattahoochee River in Columbus.

  • Population Growth Rate: +1.05%
  • Median House Price: $389,500
  • Job Opening Rate: 5.7%
  • Most Popular Cities: Atlanta, Columbus, and Savannah

The warm, sunny weather enables locals to enjoy outdoor activities nearly year-round. Georgia also has mild winters, so if you’re not a fan of the cold, it’s a great place to avoid the snow. When it comes to job opportunities, many large companies are headquartered in Georgia, including The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta, and Aflac. That means it’s a great place to start or grow your career.

The traffic in Atlanta can be intense—but smaller cities like Columbus are also great for young adults, especially since the cost of living is more affordable outside of Atlanta’s city limits.

#2: South Carolina

In 2022, South Carolina had the most population growth of any other state, and for good reason! The Palmetto State is known for delicious food, a diverse culture, and friendly people. Whether you love the beaches or the mountains, South Carolina offers easy access to both. Plus, the cost of living is low compared to many states in the U.S.

  • Population Growth Rate: +1.69%
  • Median House Price: $360,800
  • Job Opening Rate: 6.5%
  • Most Popular Cities: Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville

The weather in South Carolina is great, with warm to hot summers and mild winters, depending on where you live. With such a vibrant job market and economy, finding your niche in the workforce should be easier than other places, too. And of course, the food is delicious, with fresh seafood and Southern comfort food everywhere you go.

However, keep in mind that the weather in South Carolina can be stormy and uncomfortably warm at times. The starting salaries in South Carolina are also low compared to other states.

Ultimately, South Carolina is a great state for young adults to move to in 2024. It just depends on what kind of climate and cost of living you’re looking for!

#3: Oregon

Living in the South is great, but if you’re interested in the West Coast, Oregon is full of great career opportunities for young adults. Plus, the state’s forests, coastlines, and mountains are a beautiful combination for outdoor lovers. Young adults might also love the laid-back lifestyle that Oregon is known for, especially when comparing this state to some places on the East Coast.

  • Population Growth Rate: -0.14%
  • Median House Price: $490,200
  • Job Opening Rate: 5.1%
  • Most Popular Cities: Portland, Eugene, and Salem

There’s no sales tax in Oregon, so it’s a great place to save money on groceries and household essentials. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll appreciate Oregon’s sports culture, and foodies will enjoy the state’s many delicious restaurants.

However, no sales tax does mean that income taxes are a bit higher in Oregon. Homes are also more expensive here than in some of the other states on this list. Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, the weather can also be pretty wet and rainy—which can be tough if you’re moving from a state with lots of sunshine.

Ultimately, Oregon’s green forests and career opportunities offer a lot for young adults, and it’s a great state to consider moving to.

#4: Colorado

If you love the mountains, you’ll love Colorado! The Centennial State is home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding destinations in the country, including Breckenridge, Vail, and Aspen. It’s also home to a multitude of forests and four National Parks, making this state a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Population Growth Rate: 0.62%
  • Median House Price: $586,100
  • Job Opening Rate: 7.4%
  • Most Popular Cities: Denver, Colorado Springs, and Aurora

The economy in Colorado is booming and includes industries like tourism, cybersecurity, and biotechnology. The job market is known for being one of the best in the United States, so finding a job may be easier in Colorado than in other states.

It’s important to know that the high altitude in Colorado can be hard to get used to—not to mention the winters, which can be pretty chilly if you’re used to a warmer climate. The housing market is also very pricey, which can be a negative for those looking to buy property.

Overall, Colorado is known as a friendly and beautiful place, and it’s a great state for young adults.

#5: Maine

Seafood fans will love Maine and its famous lobster dishes!  This state is known for its picturesque coastal towns, beautiful lighthouses, and charming New England vibes. The cost of living in Maine is also relatively low when compared to other states on the East Coast.

  • Population Growth Rate: 0.46%
  • Median House Price: $370,000
  • Job Opening Rate: 6.3%
  • Most Popular Cities: Portland, Bar Harbor, and Camden

There’s a reason why Maine’s natural beauty is top-rated in the United States; it’s an amazing place for nature lovers and hikers. The seafood is fresh and delicious, especially on the state’s long coastline, and the weather during the summer is incredible, with temperatures rarely rise above 80 degrees.

Of course, the trade-off is that Maine winters are often freezing. The state is also pretty isolated in terms of geographic location, making travel to nearby cities and states inconvenient. Despite this, many young adults are choosing Maine for its natural beauty and reasonable cost of living.

Ready to choose from the best states for young adults?

Now that you have a comprehensive guide to five of the best states for young adults in 2024, it’s time to start considering your options! Whether you’re seeking job opportunities or natural beauty, there is a state on this list that is sure to meet your needs.

If you’re looking for a state that offers a thriving job market, mild weather, abundant outdoor adventures, and of course—affordable living—Georgia might just be right for you. In fact, you might just fall in love with Georgia’s second-largest city, Columbus.

In Columbus, you can access the perks of a larger city (like career opportunities), while enjoying all the warmth and affordability of a smaller town. With a cost of living lower than the national average and a vibrant arts and culture scene, Columbus is a great place for young adults.

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