Best and worst places to be a millennial – from D.C. to New Mexico

Caroline Tanner, USA TODAY
Published 4:58 p.m. ET April 10, 2018 | Updated 5:01 p.m. ET April 10, 2018

Matt Chung saw the benefits of being a young person living in the nation’s capital: Easy access to public transit, lots of fellow millennials, and plenty of social and professional networking opportunities.

“D.C. is a cool city because no one is from there so everyone is looking to make friends and get out and meet people,” says Chung, who graduated from Georgetown in 2014 and lived in nearby Arlington, Va. “It’s easy to make friends and be social.”

As a millennial, Chung compares his experience living in D.C., which was recently named the best place for millennials by WalletHub, to New Orleans, where he is a second-year law student at Tulane. In contrast to D.C., Louisiana falls near the bottom of the list.

Despite getting more bang for his buck, Chung has found cost of living in New Orleans to be similar to D.C. He now lives in a duplex in the Uptown neighborhood, where he and his two roommates each pay $700 per month for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex off Freret St., a neighborhood Chung described as housing “a mixture of millennials, students, young families and older people.”

Although he pays nearly two times less for rent than when he lived near D.C., Chung noted the poor road conditions, the absence of a metro system and the lack of infrastructure to make New Orleans a walkable, more accessible city.

Washington comes out on top among the most livable states for millennials, according to WalletHub’s new report on 2018’s Best & Worst States for Millennials, which found that millennials in D.C. earn the most in monthly wages, pocketing approximately $5,000 each month.

Released by the personal-finance website on Thursday, WalletHub compiled a list of the most livable places for the 18-35-year-old age group using data from all 50 states and D.C., ranking states based on affordability, education and health, quality of life, economic health and civic engagement rank.

Thirty key indicators of living standards were looked at, including average monthly earnings for millennials and millennial unemployment rate.

“It’s hard to break in here and find careers if you are not from here.” Chung said of New Orleans, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. “The industries down here are few, and if you really want to push your potential, you’re going to have to leave at some point.”

For example, Chung is pursing entertainment transactional law, an industry he says doesn’t exist in New Orleans.

According to the survey, the nation’s capital is home to the highest share of millennials, comprising nearly 35% of their total workforce.

The abundance of millennials based in D.C. is one of the things that twenty-five-year-old Courtney Maz likes most. Maz works as an account manager at a government affairs tech startup and lives in the hip U Street neighborhood.

“The presence of millennials allows for the opportunity to meet other young people your age, at happy hours, intramural leagues, etc,” said Maz. She also noted the growth of the local food scene geared to millennials, including Compass Coffee, salad chain Sweetgreen and more forms of entertainment at the Southwest Waterfront.

Following D.C., the full list for the top ten states for millennials:

1.  District of Columbia

2.  North Dakota

3.  Minnesota

4.  Massachusetts

5.  Iowa

6.  Wisconsin

7.  Utah

8.  Nebraska

9.  Colorado

10.  South Dakota

Runner-up North Dakota has the lowest share of millennials living with their parents as well as the lowest millennial unemployment rate. Despite falling two spots below D.C., Minnesota boasts the highest millennial homeownership rate at nearly 50 percent, more than two times higher than in D.C.

The list of ten worst states for millennials:

1.     New Mexico

2.     West Virginia

3.     Mississippi

4.     Nevada

5.    Alabama

6.    Louisiana

7.    Oklahoma

8.    Arkansas

9.    South Carolina

10.   Florida

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