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You have a lot to look forward to in your 20s, and one of the most exciting prospects for young people is figuring out where they’re going to live. After you’ve ventured beyond your parent’s house or college dorm, you have to make an enormous decision. Where are the best places for young adults to live?
Of course, making that decision can feel difficult when you don’t have any specific plans. If you’ve found yourself at a crossroads, it’s best to think through your priorities and consider what’s truly important to your future. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some great places for young people to live — based on your priorities.
- Do You Want a High-Paying Job?
- Are You Looking for Adventure?
- Do You Like to Go Out on Weekends?
- Do You Want to Grow Your Career?
- Are You Looking to Start a Family?
- Do You Want to See the World?
Take Our Quiz:
Priority #1: Do You Want a High-Paying Job?
Starting your career is an exciting milestone. Your first full-time job will determine the types of opportunities you get as you gain experience and pick up new skills. That’s why so many young people look for a place to live based on the area’s job market. It’s a practical way to approach your future move, a wise choice for many young professionals.
Gusto, a payroll software company, analyzed the top cities for new grads to make good money at the beginning of their careers. What cities made the list?
Houston, the fourth-most populous city in the U.S., tops the list for young professionals. Space City has an 8.5% hiring rate, with the highest cost-of-living-adjusted city among America’s metropolitan areas. Young people in Houston are making about $65,648 annually. The top industries in Houston include energy, health care, and aerospace.
Second place on the list is Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love. Here, the cost-of-living-adjusted salary eclipses $64,000 for recent college graduates. Philadelphia has a 7.9% hiring rate and is a hub for health care, financial services, and education. The city features Temple University, Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, and other prestigious institutions for employment.
Priority #2: Are You Looking for Adventure?
When you’re in your 20s, you don’t have as many responsibilities. Traveling once you get married, have kids and work a demanding, high-level job will be difficult. Because of these restrictions, many younger people seek adventure when choosing a place to live. These two cities separate themselves with numerous opportunities for exciting experiences.
Denver is an excellent city if you love the outdoors. This large metropolitan area has a population of just over 700,000 and is at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. You can find a new adventure each weekend with opportunities to hike, bike and camp at the area’s various parks.
Travel northwest of the city to find Rocky Mountain National Park, the fourth-most-visited park in the United States. Here, you can fish, ski, watch wildlife, camp and do other fun recreational activities. Inside the city, Denver has botanical gardens, numerous breweries and other places for fun adventures.
If you love the great outdoors, Portland, Oregon, is another spot combining the big-city feel with outdoor activities. Portland is close to beautiful recreational areas like Mt. Hood National Forest and Smith Rock State Park. These places feature whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking and other fun weekend adventures.
Portland residents embrace environmentalism to help Mother Nature. The city’s buses run on 99% renewable energy and only 1% petroleum, reducing the city’s carbon footprint significantly. Many Portlanders bike to work and get out of the city on the weekends to get outdoors.
Priority #3: Do You Like to Go Out on Weekends?
Relaxation is essential to your health. Wherever you end up, you should have plenty of fun things to do on the weekend — a shared priority for younger people looking to socialize. If you’re looking for fun nights out, great social circles and a great music scene, these picks should be great for your dream lifestyle.
Austin, Texas, has quickly become one of the most popular cities for young people because of its nightlife. The city has mild winters, allowing it to host festivals, concerts and parties all year. Austin is a melting pot of numerous cultures, promoting inclusiveness for people from all walks of life. From 2021 to 2022, Austin saw the sixth-largest population growth in the country.
Austin is for more than just the nightlife. If you’re looking for a career, the city is an excellent place to get started for those wanting to work in tech. Austin is rapidly growing but maintains a lower cost of living than other tech-oriented cities like San Jose and Seattle.
When you think of party cities, Miami, Florida, is one of the first to come to mind. Vice City is on the Atlantic Coast, with miles of beaches going north and south. The city stays warm all year, cultivating an excellent climate for going out on the weekends. South Beach, Miami Beach and Ocean Avenue are only some famous spots around town.
Priority #4: Do You Want to Grow Your Career?
Maybe you’re in your 20s, and you’ve already started your career, but you’re looking to start a new job. That’s when you’ll need a city with lots of job growth, which is why so many millennials are moving to more mid-sized cities with rapidly growing career opportunities. These places allow young professionals to plant their roots and grow rather than chase the highest salaries and rents.
Minneapolis doesn’t always catch a young graduate’s eye. Its presence in the popular conscience has mostly been cemented by Fargo, after all, where plenty of niceties and a boatload of snow stand out as its main characteristics. But don’t sleep on this growing city, with job opportunities abound in banking and finance, technology, biosciences and manufacturing.
Minnesota’s affordable cost of living and various career opportunities allow a headstart for young people looking to excel in their field and put down roots in a great place. Beyond the job outlook, Minnesota offers a bustling public arts scene, well-renowned dining and outdoor sporting opportunities for those who embrace winter weather. It’s a great alternative to spending your 20s counting every dollar in a flashier metro center.
Provo, Utah, may only have 114,000 people — but don’t stick your nose up yet. The city is home to Brigham Young University and has one of the fastest-growing job markets in the United States. Checkr compiled a list of the fastest-growing cities based on population, GDP, unemployment rates and other factors. Provo tops the list because of its strong economic performance.
Experts predict Provo will see nearly 50% job growth over the next decade — a 16% increase compared to the national average. Provo has many economic factors going its way to attract young people. Plus, the city has a bustling arts scene with numerous outdoor activities in and around the city.
Priority #5: Are You Looking to Start a Family?
It may be common for people to wait until their early 30s to start having kids, but it doesn’t have to be. Young people in their 20s are already starting families, a huge factor in their eventual move. The best places to live in your 20s may just be those that align with your dreams of starting a family. If that’s the case, consider putting down roots in these hip — but family-friendly — locales.
The Bay Area in California is famous for Silicon Valley — a region home to numerous tech companies like Apple, Google and Meta. However, the cost of living in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose can turn many families away. According to Redfin, the median home price in San Francisco in June 2023 was $1.4 million. Where can you find more affordable housing for your family?
One option is to head to Fremont, California. Fremont is just north of San Jose and has quickly become a popular destination for families. Wallethub analyzed American cities for their opportunities to raise a family, and Fremont topped the list. The town boasts excellent education and childcare opportunities and top-notch socioeconomic status.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is an excellent place for young families, given its abundance of kid-friendly activities. This college-centered city is well-suited for career-minded parents looking for a tight-knit community for their children to grow up in. The University of Michigan is the pride and joy of Ann Arbor, with its excellent academics and connections in many fields.
The city is family-friendly, with plenty of parks and other green spaces for the kids to enjoy. All over town, you’ll find hiking trails and bike paths to get outdoors in the summer. Last year, Fortune Magazine named Ann Arbor the top place for families because of its job market, education and family activities.
You don’t have to spend your 20s in a huge metro area to enjoy yourself. Ann Arbor offers plenty of cultural opportunities and fun events without a shocking price tag, and it’s a great place to settle down for the long haul.
Priority #6: Do You Want to See the World?
You may want to see the world before picking a long-term living solution, and that’s totally possible when you’re young and in your 20s. Why limit yourself to the U.S.? Some of the best places to live in your 20s in the world can and should include these fantastic international centers.
London is home to nearly nine million people and is an important financial center of Europe. The city is one of the world’s biggest hubs for finance and professional services, so it’s a terrific spot if you’re a lawyer, accountant, banker, investor or another occupation. Plus, the English-speaking part will help your transition to another country.
You can continue speaking English in London but have numerous opportunities to go abroad. France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium are only a short trip from the country, allowing you to broaden your horizons even more.
Many young people are moving to Montreal because it’s a big city in a new country that’s also super affordable. Unlike most North American cities, Montreal’s rent prices are lower without compromising space and quality. You could travel Canada to your heart’s content with the money you’d save on rent.
Montreal is famous for its blend of French and Canadian culture, making it an excellent place to practice your French. You’ll have to survive cold winters, but Montreal’s history, beauty and arts found in this historic city more than compensate for the windchill. Plus, Montreal has become an international center, allowing you to meet people from all walks of life.
Exploring the Best Places for Young Adults to Live
Uprooting your life to move to a different city is a huge decision. Ensure you spend plenty of time researching every aspect of the town to see if it fits your interests and beliefs. If possible, travel to the city for a few days to get a feel for the place.
When you find the right city, you’ll know. Use this guide to see the best cities for young people in 2023.