Depending on who you ask, a Millennial is either…
- A person of the generation between Generations X and Z, born roughly between 1980 and 2000
- An entitled young adult trapped in a state of suspended adolescence who has never heard the word “no” and can’t be pulled away from their iPhones.
- A chronically under-employed person saddled with college debt with little to no prospect for ever finding a job which pays enough for them to amass any kind of savings.
However you see Millennials, the fact is that many cities — those with high costs of living, skyrocketing rents, and few job opportunities for new college grads — are just unsustainable places to live for young people who are starting off with close to $30,000 of debt to their name.
But there are some places where Millennials can make it. These cities have low rental rates, inexpensive public transit, jobs whose starting salaries outpace loan debt, and affordable necessities like food and clothing.
Here are the 11 best cities for broke Millennials:
With an average salary for Millennials of almost $43,000, Minneapolis has topped multiple listicles regarding young people and employment. But the Twin Cities also have a lot going for them culturally, which is also important to Millennials. Young people are flocking to the urban core, something that retailers are paying attention to; Target, who has begun opening “Express” locations in city centers recently opened one of their first “test stores” in Minneapolis.
Austin may be what most people think of when they consider a move to the Lone Star State, but it’s Houston that’s the most statistically sound choice. Generation Y employees can expect one of the highest median incomes in Houston ($44,000), with plenty of solid career-level jobs to go around. There are also just a lot of young people in Houston, with a population of 1,440,634 of them in the area.
The state of Texas itself has an eye on this mobile young population, enacting laws to ensure a low tax threshold and enough affordable housing for young people. Micro-housing, which is an inexpensive choice for Millennials, has gained popularity, allowing young people to save on rent while paying down their debt.
With a youthful population, inexpensive housing, and a high average salary, Phoenix hits a lot of marks that Millennials are looking for. It’s also got another one-two Gen Y punch: An active nightlife coupled with a lot of new technology jobs, both things that matter to young people.
The much-publicized decline of Detroit has consistently had one bright spot: Increasing affordability in housing. Unlike many big cities, purchasing housing in Detroit is less expensive than renting, making homeownership an achievable goal for young people.
Additionally, though the auto industry is no longer supporting nearly as many jobs as it was previously, there has been substantial job growth, particularly in high-paying STEM careers, which many college graduates are qualified for as soon as they exit school. And while Detroit is still ranked as one of the country’s most dangerous cities, that’s never really scared young people off before.
The Cleve may have been something of a running joke on Gen Y-favorite “30 Rock” (“Everyone’s a model in Cleveland!”), but up and moving to Cleveland isn’t a joke for a lot of Millennials who grew up in the Midwest. Consistently ranked one of the best cities for Millennials, Cleveland offers a rich, booming downtown that’s rapidly increasing in housing opportunities, as well a larger collection of neighboring cities which offer even more potential for employment.
Long beloved for its proximity to breathtaking natural beauty, Denver hasn’t exactly been the kind of place that young people move to for the long haul. But in the last 10 years, the population of Gen Y-ers has boomed in Denver, making it a place that’s easy to meet people and put down roots. A recent report found that Denver’s downtown core is calling young people with jobs, walkability, and active transportation. Also, the 2014 housing market is looking as rosy as ever.
Maybe because Millennials graduated into the worst economy in decades (and largely blamed politicians and systems they weren’t old enough to vote for), or maybe it’s because they feel ignored in the political discourse, but more and more Gen Y-ers are getting involved in enacting change. Working in government is one of the top career aspirations for young people, which makes Washington, D.C. an easy choice. The necessity for a car is also low in the D.C. metro area, something that’s been shown to be important for Millennials and it has a high volume of inexpensive food options and affordable groceries, though high rental rates may be a problem for newcomers.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Unlike Charlotte, which has had a pretty dim outlook for young workers, Raleigh has a bright future. In addition to having a lot of young singles, Raleigh also has a lot of jobs for aforementioned singles. With consistent job growth and three colleges nearby to help bolster the nightlife and ensure a rich rental market, Raleigh caters to the youngest end of the Millennial generation, who are just looking to get started.
Young people may love Portland, Oregon, but the fact is that the West Coast’s Portland just doesn’t have a job market to sustain the influx of 20somethings it’s been seeing. Portland, Maine, however, has the highest number of small businesses per capita and a strengthening job market that could be friendly to recent college grads. It’s also got a low cost of living, with cheap food and decent rentals.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The state of New Mexico has been hard at work to attract someone — anyone — to visit for ages, funneling money into tourism efforts and programs to make its cities, like Albuquerque, attractive to new businesses and residents. And while “Breaking Bad” may not have helped its reputation any, young people seem to be taking the bait. Recently profiled by “The Atlantic” as a top city for Millennials, the city boasts a low cost of living, a youth-powered rental business, and a high “livability index,” which includes things like the price of gas and food.
St. Louis, Missouri
Ranked 13 on a list of best cities for Gen Y workers, St. Louis is not only offers Millennials a relatively cheap cost of living, but also decent-paying jobs to help them get ahead and maybe put some into savings. The average commute is less than 20 minutes, and it’s got a high concentration of bars.
And hey, the local government even listens — when snow removal practices left many residents stranded and Millennials complained about the issue, the city actually reconsidered their practices.
Did we forget any great cities for Millennials? Let us know in the comments.
Estately is a national online real estate search site whose articles have been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, GeekWire, The Denver Post, and more.