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Where Millennials Thrive: Hint, It’s Not Where the Best Bars Are, Per Se

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When we think of the difference between red states and blue states, we often think of the red states being the center of a pie with the crust being the blue states. While trying not to get too partisan, it may now be relatively safe to say that Millennials have a much better chance of succeeding if they forget their political allegiance and get out of Dodge, pretty much literally.

What is it about certain parts of America that make them an unfavorable backdrop for the otherwise hardy creatures known as Gen Y? High rent and low rental property vacancies have a lot to do with the big picture. While so many young people are drawn to places like Los Angeles or New York City, these are just not practical choices. But as with any generation, young people aren’t usually thinking pragmatically about bills, proximity to work, transportation, and so on. Still, the issues are quite real, and in heavily populated metropolises, unemployment for college-aged people is staggering—nearly 16% in California, for example.

But it isn’t just the story of the city mouse eking his way out to make a name or a career in a big, bustling place where everyone wants to be. Surprisingly, another terrible place for the Millennial-aged is West Virginia. It seems to make no sense when you pit it against places like California, but there are great reasons why West Virginia is not so great for fledgling adults. Millennials might literally rather die than go without Internet or G4 connectivity on their handhelds. So they’d be set to hop off the ledge in West Virginia, which is currently rated the worst place in the entire country for high speed Internet connectivity. For a generation of freelancers, contractors, and online administrators and designers, this is a living nightmare, and all jokes aside, could cost the 20 to 30 year-old demographic good chances at great jobs that involve telecommuting, as so many jobs these days do.

The Grand Canyon State is no better. Arizona doesn’t boast a high population of young people, and unless you happen to live a stone’s throw from downtown Tucson or Tempe where the state’s universities are located, you won’t have the best time in terms of meeting other young people. And if you plan to work in Arizona, you better have prearranged plans with an employer—the unemployment rate for Millennials is just above 13% while the entire makeup of the state’s college-aged population is only approximately 7%—the odds are not in your favor if you’re still getting carded for beer. While Arizona rent is substantially lower than California, there’s a reason: no beach, far fewer clubs, and only a handful of yoga studios and independent coffee shops, bookstores, and other Millennial-friendly operations.

So where should young people go? Is there any hope anywhere? Yes. But hipsters wearing ironic t-shirts might not be interested in this short list. Louisiana! Rent is low, and the state is famous for its bars and clubs. Halfway decent Internet, and a much lower unemployment rate for twenty-somethings than other demographics in the state. At least Louisiana has New Orleans… whereas Oklahoma—another great state for young people these days has… well, low rent and low cost of college education. But if you’re looking for nightlife, you won’t find it here.

For the cool kids and scenesters looking for quality education and decent employment with a healthy side of entertainment, Hawaii looks pretty great compared to much of the continental US. The Aloha State boasts amazing Internet connectivity and loads of places to hang out, imbibe, surf, and enjoy a laid back atmosphere. What’s more, a college education in Hawaii costs on average about $12,000—you won’t find that in LA or NYC. The whip cream on this sunny paradise: loads of other young people to mix it up with.

And for the lovers of stark winters and miles of empty landscape, there’s the Dakotas. If you don’t mind snow-shoveling your way to class, you’ll enjoy a very low college tuition—between $11,000 and about $15,000. Surprisingly, the Dakotas have great Internet connectivity and a decent number of pubs and clubs. It’s not Manhattan, but if you’re into peace and quiet and enjoy saving money, the Dakotas are calling.

Image courtesy of Beyond.com

Nathan Roberson is a lifelong coffee addict, aficionado of all things punk rock, and is particularly fond of Boxer dogs as well as all things tech, marketing design and internet. follow him on Twitter @theMrobot or add him to your circles on Google +