January 14, 2017

The Best Cities For Millennials

Yael Morowati

Since it’s a new year, you may have already thought about getting a new job or embarking on a new trajectory.  Naturally, you’re also probably thinking of upgrading your life and that may even mean relocating for some of you. Before leaving the nest, you may want to consider a few factors such as work opportunities, cost of living, and social activities.  Weighing all of these for the first time can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve compiled our top 10 favorite cities for Generation Y.

According to the Pew Research Center, 32.1% of millennials (ages 18 to 34) are living at home. More millennials choose to live at home with their parents than in any other living arrangement, such as renting on their own or with a partner or roommates.  Niche, a company that researches and compiles information on cities, tracks millennial behaviors and decision-making. It evaluated 227 U.S. cities with a population of more than 100,000, focusing on 11 factors (such as access to bars and restaurants, age of residents, cost of living, unemployment rate, crime, and ethnic diversity) to determine which cities were best-suited for young professionals.

1. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Overall score:  A+
Population: 106,844
Residents 25-34 years old: 27.4%
Access to bars: A
Access to restaurants: A
Median home value: $552,600
Median rent: $1,656
Cost of living grade: D
Unemployment rate: 4.2%

At the top of the list, Cambridge received an A+, scoring high for such factors as public schools, commuting, outdoor activities and nightlife, and slightly lower for diversity, health and fitness, and being good for families. It received a B for jobs and for weather, and a B- for crime and safety.  Housing prices are high, with a median home value of $552,600 compared with a national median home value of just $176,000. 64% of its residents rent where they live, the median rent being $1,656, which is nearly double the national median of $904. If you’re going to move to Cambridge, be prepared to work day and night.

2. Arlington, Virginia
Overall score: A+
Population: 220,173
Residents 25-34 years old: 27.9%
Access to bars: A-
Access to restaurants: A
Median home value: $594,800
Median rent: $1,802
Cost of living grade: C-
Unemployment rate: 2.8%

Arlington received an overall A+ due to four considerations: public schools, good for families, health and fitness, and nightlife. It also received an A for commuters and outdoor activities, and an A- for diversity. Jobs ranked a little lower on the grade scale, at B+, while weather merited a B. Niche didn’t have enough data to grade Arlington on crime and safety, however the city has both high median home prices, at $594,800 (compared to the national median at $176,700), and high rents ($1,802 compared to $904). Renters comprise 55% of the population, compared to 45% who own their homes.

3. Alexandria, Virginia
Overall score: A+
Population: 146,422
Residents 25-34 years old: 24.3%
Access to bars: B+
Access to restaurants: A
Median home value: $494,400
Median rent: $1,802
Cost of living grade: D+
Unemployment rate: 3.7%

Niche awarded Alexandria four A+ grades for diversity, nightlife, outdoor activities and health and fitness. Its public schools received an A, as it’s excellent for families; jobs received a B+, weather a B and both real estate and crime and safety a B-.  Its cost of living scored poorly, coming in at a D+. Median home values are $494,400, while median rents are $1,520, and 57% rent compared with 43% who own their homes. The median household income is $87,319, compared with a national median of $53,046. You’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot of your income on rent.

4. San Francisco, California
Overall score: A+
Population: 829,072
Residents 25-34 years old: 21.8%
Access to bars: A+
Access to restaurants: A
Median home value: $765,700
Median rent: $1,802
Cost of living grade: D-
Unemployment rate: 5.3%

Here comes my personal favorite. Despite its incredible high cost of living and rent, Niche awarded San Francisco an overall A+, due to its nightlife, diversity, outdoor activities, weather, and health and fitness. It received an A for the commute and an A- for its public schools, while its jobs and good-for-families categories only rated a B. Niche rated its real estate and crime/safety a C and its cost of living a D-. The median home value is $765,700, compared with a national median of just $176,700, which explains why only 37% of residents own their own homes. The remaining 63% have to land very stable jobs and excellent roommates.  The median rent is $1,533, compared with a national median of $904.

5. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Overall score: A+
Population: 115,985
Residents 25-34 years old: 17.5%
Access to bars: A-
Access to restaurants: A-
Median home value: $231,700
Median rent: $1,042
Cost of living grade: C-
Unemployment rate: 4%

Niche rated Ann Arbor an overall score of A+ due to its public schools, nightlife, commute, and health and fitness. It received an A for diversity and for being good for families, a B+ for jobs, and a B for crime and safety. The median home value is $231,700 is considerably closer to the national median of $176,700.  Rent is also close to the national median of $904, at $1,042.  Overall, Niche gave its real estate score a B-.  46% of people own their own homes, while 54% rent. It falls short in weather (C+), cost of living (C-), and high property taxes.

6. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Overall score: A+
Population: 394,424
Residents 25-34 years old: 21.6%
Access to bars: A
Access to restaurants: A-
Median home value: $205,200
Median rent: $854
Cost of living grade: C+
Unemployment rate: 6.5%

Minneapolis boasts three A+ ratings for nightlife, health and fitness, and its commute. It drops to A for diversity and to A- for outdoor activities, and gets B+ for its public schools. Jobs received a B. It received Cs for cost of living, weather, and real estate, and crime and safety.  On the plus side, 51% own their homes, thanks to housing values at $205,200.  Median rents are well below the national, at $854. Unfortunately if you’re looking for a career change, be on the lookout as the unemployment rate is 6.5%, the highest among the top 10 cities.


7. Seattle, Washington
Overall score: A+
Population: 637,850
Residents 25-34 years old: 21.5%
Access to bars: A
Access to restaurants: A
Median home value: $437,400
Median rent: $1,131
Cost of living grade: D+
Unemployment rate:  4.7%

Seattle received an A+ for outdoor activities, health and fitness, and nightlife. Niche gave it an A for diversity, public schools, and the commute. Its good-for-families grade is a B+ and its job grade is a B. However, weather received a B- and real estate and crime and safety received a C. The median home value is $437,400, while 54% rent and 46% own.  The cost of living gets a D+ because both groceries and gas are more expensive so be prepared to work long hours.

8. Denver, Colorado
Overall score: A+
Population: 633,777
Residents 25-34 years old: 21.4%
Access to bars: A
Access to restaurants: A-
Median home value: $257,500
Median rent: $913
Cost of living grade: C-
Unemployment rate: 5.6%

Denver received four A+ grades for outdoor activities, nightlife, diversity, and health and fitness, but only one A, for its commute.  Jobs and good-for-families came in at a B, followed by a B- for real estate and public schools, C for crime and safety, and a C- for cost of living.  Denver has a suburban feel, and the homes can run high, averaging out at $257,500, well above the national median. There’s a 50/50 split between renting and owning, and rent is at $913.  Be prepared to spend more on gas and groceries, since thy will cost you more than elsewhere.

9. Washington, DC
Overall score: A+
Population: 633,736
Residents 25-34 years old: 22.1%
Access to bars: A
Access to restaurants: A
Median home value: $454,500
Median rent: $1,302
Cost of living grade: C-
Unemployment rate: 7.5%

While the city rates an A+ for nightlife, diversity, outdoor activities, and health and fitness, and an A for the commute (assuming you don’t take the beltway), it gets a B for weather, public schools, and being good-for-families.  On the downside, it has highest unemployment rate of any in the top 10 cities for millennials at a whopping 7.5%, so keep that in mind when you consider moving here.  Jobs rate a B-; real estate comes in at a C, and both the cost of living and crime and safety only get C-. Real estate is expensive, as median home values are $454,500, explaining why only 42% own. You’ll need to bring in at least $69,235 to make it here since rent is high, averaging $1,302.  My advice: look for work and set up interviews prior to making the move.

10. Austin, Texas
Overall score: A+
Population: 864,218
Residents 25-34 years old: 21.4%
Access to bars: A-
Access to restaurants: A-
Median home value: $454,500
Median rent: $1,302
Cost of living grade: C
Unemployment rate: 5%

Austin rated an A+ for its nightlife, diversity, and health and fitness. It got an A for being good for families and for its public schools and commute, while jobs only rated an A-. Weather was B+, outdoor activities won a B and real estate got a B-, while crime and safety got a C+ and the cost of living got a C. The unemployment rate is 5%, and homes will run you a median of $227,800 — while rent is a median $1,012; 55% of residents rent, while 45% own.

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