Generation Z is a unique and influential generation that values individuality, collaboration, authenticity, and social engagement. As they continue to come of age, their values and behaviors are expected to impact society, culture, and the economy significantly.
This new generation has its own specific needs and preferences in terms of living conditions, job markets, and community engagement, which are quite different from those of older generations. In the United States, various factors, including geography, regional policies, and local economies, dictate the quality of life for Gen Z individuals.
A recent study compared the 50 US states across four primary categories – quality of life, wellness, work and education, and affordability- to identify the best and the worst states for Gen Z. Read on to learn more about the ten best states for Gen Z.
New Hampshire tops our list of the best states for Gen Z. It holds impressive rankings in several key areas. The state is ranked 5th in quality of life, indicating a high standard of living that includes factors like safety, outdoor recreation, and the environment. It also ranks 7th in wellness, which considers health behaviors, physical health, and access to healthcare services. Furthermore, New Hampshire is top-ranked in work and education, suggesting the state offers excellent opportunities in these areas.
However, when it comes to affordability, New Hampshire ranks 41st, implying that the cost of living and housing may be higher compared to other states. These rankings highlight why New Hampshire can be an attractive state for Generation Z to live in, especially given their emphasis on quality of life and work/education opportunities. Yet, the challenge of affordability is a crucial factor to consider.
Massachusetts holds the second position in our list of the best states for Gen Z. It ranks 8th in quality of life, which indicates a fulfilling lifestyle that offers safety and a pleasant environment.
Its top rank in wellness and second rank in work and education is undoubtedly a significant draw for Gen Z, who prioritize personal well-being and meaningful work opportunities. Access to quality healthcare and abundant educational options make Massachusetts highly attractive.
Unfortunately, Massachusetts is 49th in affordability, a significant hurdle for many Gen Z individuals, especially considering their focus on financial stability. High living costs and housing prices outweigh the state’s other benefits for some.
Though ranked third, Washington presents a mixed bag for Gen Z. While it boasts a good quality of life, substantial work/education opportunities, and decent wellness ranking, its considerable affordability issues require careful consideration.
It ranks 22 in quality of life, which suggests a decent standard of living. Though the rank is not very high, it may provide many Gen Z individuals with a fulfilling lifestyle. The state ranks highly in wellness (3rd) and work and education (4th). A thriving job market with exciting possibilities and access to quality education align well with Gen Z’s priorities for meaningful work and personal growth.
Washington ranks 42nd in affordability, suggesting that the cost of living and housing may be higher than other states. Like Massachusetts, the high cost of living and housing presents a significant obstacle for many Gen Z individuals.
Utah, ranking fourth for Generation Z, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and wellness. Despite its lower ranking in quality of life (38th), the state’s stunning landscapes provide ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, contributing to its high wellness ranking (2nd). The emphasis on outdoor activities and fitness, along with a low rate of violent crime and drug use, fosters a sense of safety and well-being among its residents.
Thanks to its growing tech industry and robust education system, Utah ranks high (3rd) in work and education. Companies like Adobe and eBay have set up shop here, creating numerous job opportunities for tech-savvy Gen Zers. Although it’s not the most affordable state (ranked 29th), Utah’s cost of living is relatively lower than other Western states like California and Colorado. This makes it easier for young adults to start their independent lives.
Generation Z is increasingly choosing to live in mountainous regions like the Great Plains, favoring active and affordable lifestyles over big-city living. With its mountainous terrain and lower population density, Montana is one of the states that appeal to this demographic. Ranked fifth overall, Montana offers a high quality of life (ranked 4th) due to its beautiful scenery and slower pace of life. However, it ranks 12th in wellness, indicating room for improvement in this area.
On the other hand, Montana ranks lower in Work and Education (31st). Its economy is diverse, encompassing agriculture, mining, and tourism sectors. However, it may provide low median hourly earnings and less opportunity for job growth. While Montana houses several higher education institutions, the quality of education may be low compared to larger states. Despite this, Montana, ranked 28th in affordability, is relatively more affordable than most states.
Minnesota, ranking sixth overall, is an appealing state for Generation Z. Its diverse economy, quality of life, and emphasis on wellness make it an attractive place for this demographic.
In terms of work and education, Minnesota ranks 7th, indicating a solid education system and various job opportunities. The state’s quality of life is also commendable, ranking 17th due to its natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and community engagement. Wellness, another critical aspect, is ranked 11th, suggesting a focus on health and well-being.
With Minnesota ranking 24th in affordability, the cost of living may still be manageable compared to other states, and the benefits outweigh the costs for many Gen Zers.
Moreover, the state has seen Gen Z individuals stepping into significant roles, such as Zaynab Mohamed and Elliot Engen, who were elected to the Minnesota Legislature. This indicates that Gen Z is choosing to live in Minnesota and actively participating in shaping the state’s future.
Nebraska ranks seventh overall for Generation Z, boasting a strong combination of good work/education, high quality of life, and excellent affordability.
Unlike other states focused on one industry, Nebraska offers opportunities in various sectors like agriculture, finance, and technology. Ranked 10th nationally, Nebraska guarantees access to quality education.
Although ranked 18th in wellness, Nebraska’s emphasis on fitness and outdoor activities contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Stunning landscapes and abundant recreational activities provide ample opportunities for relaxation and adventure.
Nebraska ranks 9th in affordability. This indicates that Nebraska’s cost of living is relatively lower than other states, making it an attractive option for Gen Zers who are just starting their independent lives. Omaha and Lincoln provide the lower cost of living and the lifestyle that young professionals are after.
Maine ranks eighth overall as a state for Generation Z. The state shines for Gen Z with its diverse economy, excellent education, and top-notch quality of life. Wellness is also a focus, though affordability comes in at 34th. Maine’s benefits may outweigh the costs for those seeking a vibrant, fulfilling life.
While it’s accurate to say Maine’s ranking in work and education (19th) falls behind some other states, it’s crucial to look at this ranking with nuance. High graduation rates, strong test scores in public schools, and renowned universities like the University of Maine System and Bowdoin College showcase a quality education system.
Maine boasts a diverse economy with industries beyond tourism, including bioscience, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare. This offers various career paths for Gen Z. Ranked 34th in affordability, Maine’s cost of living might be higher than other options for Gen Z.
Ranked 9th overall, Connecticut offers an alluring lifestyle, but the hefty price tag might be a dealbreaker for many Gen Zers.
Ranked 6th for quality of life, Connecticut boasts stunning scenery, vibrant cities, and strong community vibes. Its tenth position in wellness highlights a culture of health and outdoor activities.
Connecticut is ranked 16th in work and education. It boasts well-regarded public schools and renowned universities like Yale and the University of Connecticut. Brace yourself for a 40th ranking in affordability, meaning Connecticut is one of the most expensive states to live in, especially for housing.
Wyoming is a hidden gem for Gen Z seeking affordable, quality living focusing on wellness and outdoor adventures. The evolving job market might require flexibility, but the charm of nature and community could outweigh these trade-offs.
If you thrive on nature, crave outdoor recreation, and prioritize safety, Wyoming’s quality of life (rank 21) could be your paradise. Just be prepared for a slower pace and fewer conventional city amenities. Wyoming prioritizes health and well-being through fitness centers and ample mental health providers.
In terms of work and education, Wyoming ranks a decent 21. Wyoming is also relatively more affordable (23) than many western states.
The best states for Gen Z are scattered throughout the country, from New Hampshire on the East Coast to Washington on the West Coast, showing that successful strategies for attracting and retaining Gen Z can happen nationwide. Upper Midwest tends to have a stronger showing among the favorable states for Gen Z, with Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin scoring highly.
This could be attributed to better healthcare accessibility, solid educational institutions, and a robust infrastructure. States focusing more on outdoor activities, such as Utah, Colorado, and Minnesota, are faring better with Gen Z, possibly signifying this generation’s inclination towards work-life balance and a healthier lifestyle.
So, explore your options, weigh the trade-offs, and embrace the adventure of finding your perfect fit. Remember, the best state is the one that helps you thrive and build the life you envision.