All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Are you somewhere between 24 and 39 years old? Are you tech-savvy, ambitious and health-conscious? And how’s that ever-important work-life balance going for you? We’ve got some cities you may want to bump up on your “where to live next” list.
Finding the best cities for millennials
So, what makes these cities prime for your generation? For one, livability. That means affordable housing along with a healthy job market and factors like bike-friendly and walkability. Let’s also not forget a handful of other millennial renters in the same area.
Then, of course, there’s the fun factor — that’s an actual category of our data mine. In addition to places to hang out (think coffee shops, music venues and bars), these cities offer sports, fitness opportunities and a whole lot more.
In other words, these places are as well-rounded as you are. Ready to adopt a new home town? Read on, Generation Y. Here are the best cities for millennials in 2020.
10. Overland Park, KS
From a thriving farmers market and popular soccer scene to the famous “burnt ends” barbecue, there’s a lot for millennials to love about this Midwestern city. Located just 20 minutes south of bustling Kansas City, Overland Park is chock full of restaurants, coffee shops and plenty of parks.
So, what’ll it cost you to live in OP? Expect to shell out around $1,101 every month for a one-bedroom apartment — not too bad, considering the median income here is a healthy $83,717.
9. Fargo, ND
OK, so chances are you weren’t yet born the year the Coen brothers’ highly touted film put Fargo on the map. Is this North Dakota city really one to consider? If you don’t mind a bit of extreme weather, then you betcha!
Fargo is a young, progressive city in an otherwise conservative state. You’ll find plenty of culture here, along with art, live music and nightlife. Better yet, living here won’t break the bank — even in popular neighborhoods where rent prices are rising. You can expect to pay less than $1,000 to rent a one-bedroom apartment (try $886 per month).
8. Lincoln, NE
The capital of Nebraska also happens to be the home of The Huskers (you may need to get up to speed if you’re not a college football fan). In addition to a low cost of living, you’ll find plenty of unique fun here, from the National Museum of Roller Skating to the Sunken Gardens. Oh, and since this is important to you, did we mention that Lincoln was named No. 2 in the nation for work-life balance?
Ready to don your Cornhusker red, and settle into the Midwest? Budget around $1,042 per month for rent for a one-bedroom.
7. Minneapolis, MN
The Land of 10,000 Lakes has a nice ring to it, right? We’d live there. And so would a lot of millennials, apparently. Minneapolis regularly shows up on lists of the best cities for millennials and is often touted for its mix of livability, professional opportunities and live-work-play balance. Oh yeah, and those thousands of lakes — along with urban amenities, arts and culture.
In addition to walkability, Minneapolis ranks within the top 10 for bike-ability (No. 6!) and also ranks highly for its “Fun Factor.” As for rent prices, plan to drop around $1,494 every month for a one-bedroom.
6. Omaha, NE
OK, we see you, Nebraska. The second Nebraska city to crack our top 10, there’s good reason Omaha is home to one of the world’s richest persons (Warren Buffett). Whether you have a taste for steaks and burgers, craft beer, green spaces or fashion, Omaha has you covered.
Ranked among the top 10 places to raise a family (coming in at No. 7), Omaha is also popular among millennials who are big on being active in the community. It’s also easy on the wallet. A one-bedroom here rents for around $941 per month.
5. Lexington, KY
Home to the University of Kentucky (Go, Wildcats!), Lexington ranks among the 30 best cities for young professionals. Why? Beyond the bourbon and horse farms (of which there are more than 400), the Bluegrass State charms with its rolling hills, historic districts and unique culture.
Your business prospects are equally alluring here in The Horse Capital of the World. Consider that Lexington has the lowest unemployment rate on our list. Add to that an inexpensive cost of living and an average rent price under $1,000 ($926), and you’ll see why Lexington is the fifth-best-city for millennials.
4. Austin, TX
What’s not to love about Austin? Millennials are flocking to the Live Music Capital of the World for everything from nightlife, festivals and outdoor activities to the city’s emphasis on sustainability. Oh, and did we mention that Austin is the No. 1 city for future job growth? From the Congress Avenue bats to the Cathedral of Junk, there are also plenty of quirks to Keep Austin Weird.
The average income here in this Lone Star city is a healthy $71,543, and you can expect to pay around $1,517 in monthly rent. Among the top 10, Austin blows the competition out of the water when it comes to several millennial-approved categories, including food, drink, fitness and total fun factor. Boom.
3. Norman, OK
If you’re going to live in the Sooner State, you better get wise to what that means. Sooners were a little bit like millennials. Technically, they were the folks who claimed land in Oklahoma before the official start of the Land Rush. In other words, they got a leg up on gaining a claim, showing the spunk and can-do spirit that defines many millennials.
Home of the University of Oklahoma, Norman is the most affordable place to live on our top 10 list. How affordable? Try $704 in monthly rent. For millennials looking for a safe, comfortable and inexpensive place to live, you can’t do much better than Norman.
2. Madison, WI
Perhaps you’ve heard that UW-Madison frequently ranks among the top party schools in the country. But did you know that Madison is also the top city that millennials are moving to? Why? The city strikes the perfect balance between affordability and employment opportunity. Add to that a walkable downtown, lakes and bike trails aplenty and yes, a fantastic food and drink scene.
So, what can a millennial expect from Madison? The average income here is $64,101 (the second highest among our top 10), while rent for a one-bedroom is a comfortable $1,189. Perhaps it’s time to consider a move to the Midwest.
1. Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City is on the rise, and we’re not just talking about the Wasatch Mountains. Consider that the SLC economy is growing 9 percent annually — more than two times faster than the national average, while jobs are being added three times faster than the rest of the U.S. And like our runner up city, SLC sits at the sweet spot balancing affordability and job opportunities, though the average income is a hair lower ($61,625) and rent a touch higher ($1,269) than it is in Madison.
Still, millennials will find a little something extra here, namely the Silicon Slopes. A crop of startups in SLC has ushered in the beginnings of a tech boom with the kind of momentum that draws millennials. And let’s not forget about the quality of life. With agreeable year-round temperatures and ample opportunities to get outside, Salt Lake is known for healthy living, which any true millennial will appreciate.
The top 50 cities for millennials
Intrigued to see more cities where the living is easy for millennial-minded folks? Look no further than this handy chart of the top 50 cities for millennials.
The worst cities for millennials
Let’s face it, not all cities were made for millennials. In fact, some places are…meh when it comes to being a good match for your generation. See which cities to avoid if you’re looking for a millennial mecca.
What millennials want in a city
Your generation is community-oriented and more likely to rent than buy — but not because you can’t afford a home (as you know, it’s simply more practical and convenient). Needless to say, a healthy rental market is a key consideration.
And there’s got to be plenty to do, from ample restaurants and places to work up a sweat to entertainment venues and opportunities to get your culture fix. Think: connected, creative and grounded in community.
To find the best cities for millennials, we looked at a number of different factors and weighted them according to relevancy.
- Median income, population and the percentage of millennial renters are from 2018 and 2019 reports from the U.S. Census Bureau
- Unemployment rate is for June 2020 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Walk Score and Bike Score are from July 2020
- Fun factor score is a per capita calculation (based on 10,000 residents) based on commercially-available business listings of entertainment establishments, such as bars, concert venues, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. These listings may not reflect recent closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in July 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Cities with a population under 100,000 or insufficient data were excluded from our report.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.