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Dan Green

Since 2003, Dan Green has been a leading mortgage lender and respected industry authority. His unwavering commitment to first-time home buyers and home buyer education has established him as a trusted voice among his colleagues, his peers, and the media. Dan founded Homebuyer.com to expand the American Dream of Homeownership to all who want it. .

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100 Best Cities For Young Adults and Professionals

If you want to buy a home in your twenties or thirties, or buy a home out of state, this study of the Best Cities for Young Adults will help you find your next home.

Using data from more than 70 public resources (and ignoring trendy statistics such as the number of farmer’s markets per capita), we ranked the best places to buy home.

Like our Most Affordable Cities to Buy a House post, we applied mathematics fairly – over-weighting cities that let you keep a large percentage of your paycheck and giving extra consideration to cities that make it easy to get around.

We omitted subjective factors completely. You’ll find no mention of a town’s trendiness or hipness.

What are the best cities for young professionals? Where should young adults move after graduation? Use this list to get you started.


Top 13 Best Cities For Young Adults &Amp; Professionals In 2024

The Best U.S. Cities For Young Adults

1. Durham, NC

Downtown Durham, Nc
Photo by Chuck Givens on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #1 in the South
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 100,100 people

See mortgage rates in Durham.

2. Pittsburgh, PA

Downtown Pittsburgh, Pa
Photo by Tyler Rutherford on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #1 in the Northeast
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 346,400 people

See mortgage rates in Pittsburgh.

3. Nashville, TN

Downtown Nashville
Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #2 in the South
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 240,500 people

See mortgage rates in Nashville.

4. Des Moines, IA

Downtown Des Moines, Ia
Photo by Austin Goode on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #1 in the Midwest
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 107,000 people

See mortgage rates in Des Moines.

5. Charlotte, NC

Downtown Charlotte
Photo by Carissa Rogers on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #3 in the South
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 286,800 people

See mortgage rates in Charlotte.

6. Syracuse, NY

Downtown Syracuse
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #2 in the Northeast
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 86,500 people

See mortgage rates in Syracuse.

7. Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio
Photo by Hans-Jürgen Weinhardt on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #2 in the Midwest
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 341,500 people

See mortgage rates in Columbus.

8. Austin, TX

Austin, Texas
Photo by MJ Tangonan on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #4 in the South
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 389,000 people

See mortgage rates in Austin.

9. Greenville, SC

Greenville, Sc
Photo by Emmy Gaddy on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #5 in the South
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 94,700 people

See mortgage rates in Greenville.

10. Houston, TX

Houston, Texas
 Photo by Alisa Matthews on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #6 in the South
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 1,200,400 people

See mortgage rates in Houston.

11. Albany, NY

Albany, Ny
Photo by Roger Lipera on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #3 in the Northeast
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 132,100 people

See mortgage rates in Albany.

12. Dallas, TX

Dallas, Tx
Photo by R K on Unsplash
  • Grade: A
  • Regional Ranking: #7 in the South
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 1,198,700 people

See mortgage rates in Dallas.

13. Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis, In
Photo by Steven Van Elk on Unsplash
  • Grade:
  • Regional Ranking: #3 in the Midwest
  • Estimated Population Age 20-34: 331,900 people

See mortgage rates in Indianapolis.

The Top 100 Cities For Young Adults & Professionals

Based on jobs, commute, population, taxes, food and drink establishments

Overall Rank City, State Earned Grade Region Regional Rank
1 Durham, NC A South 1
2 Pittsburgh, PA A Northeast 1
3 Nashville, TN A South 2
4 Des Moines, IA A Midwest 1
5 Charlotte, NC A South 3
6 Syracuse, NY A Northeast 2
7 Columbus, OH A Midwest 2
8 Austin, TX A South 4
9 Greenville, SC A South 5
10 Houston, TX A South 6
11 Albany, NY A Northeast 3
12 Dallas, TX A South 7
13 Indianapolis, IN A Midwest 3
14 Harrisburg, PA A- Northeast 4
15 Fayetteville, AR A- South 8
16 Cincinnati, OH A- Midwest 4
17 St. Louis, MO A- Midwest 5
18 Lubbock, TX A- South 9
19 Gainesville, FL A- South 10
20 Omaha, NE A- Midwest 6
21 Corpus Christi, TX A- South 11
22 Raleigh, NC A- South 12
23 Dayton, OH B+ Midwest 7
24 Lexington, KY B+ South 13
25 Knoxville, TN B+ South 14
26 Colorado Springs, CO B+ West 1
27 New Haven, CT B+ Northeast 5
28 Buffalo, NY B+ Northeast 6
29 Rochester, NY B+ Northeast 7
30 Seattle, WA B+ West 2
31 Birmingham, AL B+ South 15
32 Tulsa, OK B+ South 16
33 Akron, OH B+ Midwest 8
34 Hartford, CT B+ Northeast 8
35 Baton Rouge, LA B+ South 17
36 Denver, CO B West 3
37 Lafayette, LA B South 18
38 Boston, MA B Northeast 9
39 Louisville, KY B South 19
40 Anchorage, AK B West 4
41 Boise, ID B West 5
42 Jacksonville, FL B South 20
43 Grand Rapids, MI B Midwest 9
44 Spokane, WA B- West 6
45 Savannah, GA B- South 21
46 Winston-Salem, NC B- South 22
47 Memphis, TN B- South 23
48 Wichita, KS B- Midwest 10
49 Baltimore, MD B- South 24
50 Kansas City, MO B- Midwest 11
51 Washington, DC B- South 25
52 Minneapolis, MN B- Midwest 12
53 Chattanooga, TN C+ South 26
54 Oklahoma City, OK C+ South 27
55 Cleveland, OH C+ Midwest 13
56 Milwaukee, WI C+ Midwest 14
57 San Antonio, TX C+ South 28
58 Little Rock, AR C+ South 29
59 Augusta, GA C+ South 30
60 Tampa, FL C+ South 31
61 Atlanta, GA C+ South 32
62 Springfield, MO C+ Midwest 15
63 Youngstown, OH C+ Midwest 16
64 Providence, RI C+ Northeast 10
65 Richmond, VA C South 33
66 Lancaster, PA C Northeast 11
67 Reno-Sparks, NV C West 7
68 Shreveport, LA C South 34
69 San Jose, CA C West 8
70 Fort Wayne, IN C Midwest 17
71 Detroit, MI C Midwest 18
72 Orlando, FL C South 35
73 Charleston, SC C South 36
74 Bakersfield, CA C West 9
75 Phoenix, AZ C West 10
76 Chicago, IL C- Midwest 19
77 San Francisco, CA C- West 11
78 Columbia, SC C- South 37
79 Sacramento, CA C- West 12
80 Salt Lake City, UT C- West 13
81 Fayetteville, NC C- South 38
82 Portland, OR C- West 14
83 Rio Rancho, NM C- West 15
84 Philadelphia, PA C- Northeast 12
85 Jackson, MS D+ South 39
86 Sarasota, FL D+ South 40
87 El Paso, TX D+ South 41
88 Riverside, CA D+ West 16
89 Las Vegas, NV D+ West 17
90 Tucson, AZ D+ West 18
91 Mobile, AL D+ South 42
92 Cape Coral, FL D South 43
93 McAllen, TX D South 44
94 Eugene, OR D West 19
95 New York, NY D Northeast 13
96 Fresno, CA D West 20
97 San Diego, CA D West 21
98 Miami, FL D- South 45
99 Los Angeles, CA D- West 22
100 Honolulu, HI F West 23

Our Methodology

Homebuyer performed a sizable amount of original research in our search for the Best U.S. Cities For Young Adults.

This is an objective analysis based on statistical studies and credible resources. The only component of our study that can be considered “opinion” is our opinion that Young Adults should be able to afford the city in which they live—especially if they are making the move out of their parents’ house.

We would say that about any age group.

Affordability matters to everyone. When your life is affordable, you give yourself options. You can use your excess money to buy a home with a low down payment (or a big one), set aside money for retirement, and protect your loved ones with a proper life insurance policy.

Including affordability, we identified six categories that matter to people of all ages and assigned a relative weight to each.

Then, using government and private sources, we logged local data for more than 3,500 cities — from Abbeville, Louisiana to Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico — before narrowing our data set down to the 100 most populous cities for people aged 20-34, where entry-level jobs are ample.

We ranked these “Best Places for Young Adults to Live” from A to F. The six categorical rankings are as follows.

1. How far does a paycheck get you in the city? (50% of score)

Your salary is not your paycheck. Your salary is what you earn. Your paycheck is what you take home after taxes and fees.

Depending on where you live, your paycheck can be shrunk. Many cities levy taxes on people working within city limits to pay for public services such as parks and sanitation.

Tax rates can be as high as six percent, or $6 from your paycheck for every $100 you earn.

Furthermore, the value of your paycheck varies based on where you live.

In some cities, renting an apartment, shopping for food, and buying clothes costs more than the national average. Your paycheck gets used up faster. There’s less left over to spend on things such as leisure, fun, and savings.

We wanted to capture this dynamic as part of our “Best Places To Live” study for Young Adults because it’s a real-world event that’s rarely discussed. Your salary may not be as important as you think.

We did an abundance of research related to each city’s entry-level salary range, taxes charged to workers by the city and state, and the city’s specific cost of living to find what a dollar earned in each city is actually worth. We sourced income data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, referencing workers twenty-five years or older with a Bachelor’s Degree; cost of living data from the government’s Cost of Living Index as published in the Statistical Abstract of the United States; and, tax data from each state’s Department of Revenue and each city’s City Office.

Multiple cost-of-living indices are available through the Statistical Abstract of the United States. We chose the index that factors the cost of grocery items, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous goods and services into its result.

We ignored the cost of renters insurance because it’s property-specific and linked to additional coverages, including personal liability and auto insurance, which can be bundled for discounts and savings. We computed the median earnings for each city, adjusted for state and local taxes, and then normalized that figure for the city’s cost of living.

This allowed us to rank every U.S. city by its relative income-earning potential. Cities in which workers keep more of their paycheck received the highest scores.

2. What’s the after-work and weekend scene like in the city? (10% of score)

There’s a positive correlation between the number of restaurants, bars, and clubs in a city and its vibrancy.

When you want to go out — after work or on the weekend — you want to have options. A city’s food and social scene matters to Young Adults looking for the best places to live. Using data from the Economic Census of the United States, we found the number of food and drink establishments in a city and adjusted it against that city’s total population aged 20-34 to find the number of restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, bars, clubs, brunch spots, and other venues per person.

Cities with more places to eat and drink per young person received higher scores than cities with fewer places to eat and drink.

3. What’s the public transportation situation like in the city? (10% of score)

Owning a car can add a lot to your monthly expenses.

First, there’s the cost of the car. Whether you choose to lease or buy your car, that monthly payment comes due each month, along with the cost of parking. In some cities, there’s an abundance of street parking available at all times.

More commonly, you pay to park your car at home, work, or both. Those costs can add up. You’ve also got the cost of gas; and car insurance (by the way, you should probably shop for cheaper car insurance).

For all of these reasons, we considered the strength of each city’s public transportation system when making our list of “Top U.S. Cities For Young Adults and Professionals.”

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we gathered data on the number of workers aged 20-44 who walk or take public transportation to work, including trains, subways, buses, and ferries.

Cabs and on-demand drivers like Uber and Lyft are not considered public transportation.

Cities with a higher percentage of workers who walk or who take public transportation to work were awarded higher scores.

4. How many other young people live there? (15% of score)

When you’re moving to a new city and making a new life, it’s important to find your tribe; people with common interests to you and with whom you can form relationships.

This is why we researched the population density of young people in U.S. cities as part of the “Best Cities for Young Adults and Professionals” study.

To find the population density of people in their twenties, we used the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to find the total population of people aged 20-29 within each of the country’s urban areas, then compared that figure against the total number of people living in the same urban area.

The higher a city’s ratio of young people to its overall population, the higher it scored in our system.

5. How many entry-level jobs are available in the city? (7.5% of score)

When you’re moving to a new city as a Young Professional, you’ll want to ensure you get the job you want. So, an abundance of entry-level jobs in the city is important.

To determine the number of full-time, entry-level job openings by city, we searched the Indeed.com database and set a 25-mile radius around each city center, assuming that Young Adults and Professionals will commute up to twenty-five miles for an entry-level job.

After finding the number of available entry-level positions in a city, we adjusted it against U.S. Census Bureau data showing the city’s population aged 20-34, which shows the relative strength of the entry-level job market for Young Adults.

6. How much time is spent commuting in the city? (7.5% of score)

As human beings, time is our most valuable asset. How we spend it shapes who we are and what we can accomplish, so we included “time spent commuting” as part of the Best Cities For Young Adults and Professionals study.

The less time you spend commuting, the more time you have for interests and hobbies such as sports leagues, gaming, and hitting the gym.

Using data from the American Community Survey published by the U.S. Census Bureau, we found the typical travel time to work for workers over 16 years of age across the country who do not work from home.

Data was split into 5-minute increments up to the forty-five minute mark, at which point larger increments were used. Each city was then assigned a score based on the minutes it takes to commute to work.

Cities with lower commuting times were awarded higher point totals.

Yes, You Can Share Our Research!

Homebuyer conducted its research to help Young Adults and Professionals make better decisions about their money, careers, and lives.

If you’ve found our research helpful, you can share this article online with proper attribution.

Here’s how to properly share the Homebuyer study:

  • Please include highlights from the study only. Do not copy images or tables.
  • You may list the Top 13 cities only – those with A grades. You may not list the rankings of cities graded A- or lower.
  • You must include a link to the complete study on Homebuyer’s website
  • You must link to this page URL using the term “Young Adults and Professionals”

For follow-up information and usage rights for our research, please email hello@homebuyer.com. We’re happy to help you do more with our data.


Citations

This article, "100 Best Cities For Young Adults and Professionals" draws on the author's professional mortgage experiences and references information found at these authoritative websites:

Changelog

  • April 3, 2024: Rewrote title; Rewrote introduction; Added new tables; Simplified copy; Added graphics
  • December 21, 2020: Original publish date

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       Young professionals can work and live almost anywhere in 2024. We looked at every city in the U.S. to rank the the best cities for young adults.

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