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Ranking the States by Where I’d Live Post-Grad

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

As I watch friends, peers, and co-workers prepare for college graduation in about a month, I too am realizing before I know it I’ll be in the same position. In a year I hope to have a real-life adult job lined up, but realistically I might be having an existential crisis. So, to help ease some of my future stress and narrow down my job search, I will be ranking all 50 states in the US. 

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50) Oklahoma

Sorry to my Oklahoma friends but between the economy, weather, and political climate, this state is a hard no for me.

49 – 47) Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska

Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska often get grouped together as the “farm-land” of the US, but because of this stereotype, I can’t see myself living in these states anytime soon. 

46) Arkansas

Based on yet another judgment I am making from pure stereotypes, I don’t plan on moving to Arkansas post-grad. Because of its natural beauty however, I’m putting it at option #46. 

45) Florida

I can say with confidence that unless I’m taking my kids to Disney, partying in Miami, or retiring in a small beach-town, I will not consider going to Florida because of the scary “Florida Man” news headlines, the predominantly old population, and my fear of snakes. 

44 – 43) North and South Dakota

Exposing my lack of US geography knowledge, I am putting the Dakotas at a tie for options #44 and #43 after I finish college. All I know about these states is that they’re beautiful, cold, and empty. 

42) Ohio 

Simply because I have family from Michigan who hate the Buckeyes maybe more than they love University of Michigan, I couldn’t bear the shame of moving to Ohio.

41) Nevada

I don’t want to live in a state only known for gambling and sand. Plus I think I would hear “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley over and over in my mind if I moved to Nevada. 

40- 38) Connecticut, Delaware, and Indiana 

This three-way tie goes to a group of states that have never stood out to me. While I don’t know the capital of Delaware, I do know it has more job opportunities than in Kansas, so maybe I could end up moving to one of these states.  

37) Pennsylvania

One step above Connecticut, Delaware, and Indiana, I’m ranking Pennsylvania as my 37th choice because at least Philadelphia is a well-known city with post-grad opportunities. 

36 – 29) Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Alabama

Probably my biggest generalization of all;  I’m ranking these eight southern states as neutral options for a future home. I like the idea of warm weather, beautiful landscapes, and strong college pride, but because I hear of too much inequality in this region of the US, I’m not sure I’d want to pack up and move there without at least visiting first. These states are definitely on my travel bucket list!

28) Illinois

I don’t see myself packing my bags for Illinois unless I was moving to Chicago. 

27) Louisiana 

I’m putting Louisiana higher on my rankings than other states in the south because I think New Orleans would be a cool city to live in post-grad. 

26) New Jersey

While probably a state with many job opportunities, I feel like New Jersey is not worthy of a higher ranking because many of its residents also work in New York. Plus when I think of New Jersey I think of old money and Jersey Shore and that’s not a good mixture in my mind. 

25) Michigan

The truly neutral state, I’m putting Michigan as my 25th option because Ann Arbor calls my name. I would love to be near the Great Lakes and my family, but there’s other states I’d rather call home. 

24 – 22) Maine, Maryland, and Rhode Island

I don’t know if I like crab enough to live in any of these states but I’m not letting this one factor put Maine, Maryland, or Rhode Island lower on the rankings. 

21) New Mexico

One of the states in the four corners, New Mexico, would not be too harsh of a change from my current situation in Colorado, but job-wise, I think I would be smarter to move elsewhere. 

20) Utah

I’m putting Utah one ranking behind the next few states because of its reputation as a religious state. But because of its breathtaking views and countless national parks, I can’t completely say no. 

19 – 18) Minnesota and Wisconsin 

Two true midwest states, Minnesota and Wisconsin are places I’d like to raise my kids. But because of my lactose intolerance and inability to say no to any form of dairy, I think being so close to so many cheese curds would only negatively affect my health.

17 – 15) Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

In either Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming, I could live out my pioneer dreams and start a ranch. While I’m tempted, I think it would be a poor decision to spend thousands of dollars on my education and not even try to put my degree to use. 

14 – 13) South Carolina and Georgia

I’m putting these two southern states higher in the rankings because part of me truly does want to live in a beach town in the south and pretend I’m a character in a Nicholas Sparks novel. 

12) Texas

Since I have many family members from Texas and enjoy visiting them, I could see myself moving there after college. Austin would be my top choice. 

11) Hawaii 

I like the idea of island life but know moving to Hawaii might not be the easiest career move because of the lack of industry in many parts except for the Big Island. 

10) New York 

Although I don’t consider myself a city girl, living in New York City would not be the most surprising move on my part. Maybe I’ll discover my wealth on the east coast and live out my Great Gatsby fantasies. 

9) Arizona

I love cacti, the desert, and spanish-architecture. So maybe I will live somewhere in Arizona and raise cattle, have a greenhouse, and start bee-keeping. 

8 – 7) New Hampshire and Vermont 

Something about the mountains and lush forests of the east-coast call my name and so New Hampshire and Vermont tie for my 7th and 8th options for my future home. 

6) Massachusetts

Boston is such a historical city with a great art scene and access to nature that I would move there in a heartbeat. 

5) Colorado

It’s no surprise Colorado remains in my top five because I grew up here and have lots of college pride. But I would like to branch out and explore more parts of the US before I decide to settle here. 

4) California

Simply because California is a diverse state with a variety of beautiful landscapes and many job opportunities, I am seriously considering moving here after college. But because so many people migrate to Los Angeles and San Francisco, I have other options.

3) Alaska

Although definitely more of a dream than a realistic move, I would love nothing more than packing my bags, buying a plot of land 100s of miles away from civilization, and building a cabin to live off of the land. Maybe one day. 

2 -1) Oregon and Washington 

My top two options, and probably the most realistic choices, for where I will move after college are either Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington. I love the rain, hipster cities, and know both states have both natural beauty and plenty of job opportunities.

Although it’s sometimes easier to close my eyes and pretend I’m 17 with my parents still paying for everything, I also realize becoming a real adult is way nearer than I realize. Let’s wait another year to see if these rankings hold true. Who knows, maybe I’ll be in Oklahoma in 15 months with a stable job and healthy salary.

Lanaya Oliver

CU Boulder '24

Lanaya Oliver is the Editor-in-Chief and a contributing writer at the Her Campus Chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Editor-in-Chief, she oversees a team of editors, is the lead publisher and editor, and works as a campus corespondent. Outside of Her Campus, Lanaya is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is double majoring in both Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Sports Media. Her writing career started in high school when she was elected the position of school wide poet laureate after winning a poetry contest in her sophomore year. Now Lanaya’s writing has evolved from creative pieces to profiles and articles for her Her Campus articles. In her personal life, Lanaya is an ACE certified personal trainer and teaches both cycle and barre classes. Fitness is her passion and more often than not she can be found lifting weights, riding a bike, or running. She also enjoys being outdoors, binge watching movies, spending time with friends, thrift shopping, and munching on any white cheddar flavored snack she can find. Lanaya hopes to find a balance between her love for writing and her dreams of working in the fitness industry in her future career.