7 Livable Cities for Millennials

October 28, 2014 | By

If you’re a Millennial, you’re probably feeling fairly welcome these days. Tech companies want to hire you, brands want to advertise their wares to you, and cities want to adopt you.

But what does this younger generation — age 20 to 34 — look for in a hometown? It varies, of course, but the list of particulars often starts with cultural diversity, upward job mobility, craft beer, inventive cuisine and a large cohort of contemporaries.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best cities for Millennials to play in, work in and — who knows — maybe even lay down roots in:

 

Austin, Texas

The Texas capital has all the trappings of a Millennial-friendly city. The music scene is always hopping (Eminem and Pearl Jam are set to play this year’s Austin City Limits music festival in October). The annual South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) draws huge crowds and big bucks — the economic impact of the 2013 SXSW is valued at $315 million. It has a thriving startup scene, with the median wage for a tech job in the city topping $93,000.

These pluses do come at a cost, though. Austin is the most expensive city in Texas for renting an apartment — the average rent in the greater metropolitan area is $1,689. The average price of a home at $592,100, one of the highest on this list. But Austin does have one of the lowest tax burdens in the country — the city, like the state, has no income tax.

Average rent: $1,689 | Average home price: $592,100

 

Des Moines, Iowa

A low unemployment rate and up-and-coming startup scene are bringing in more young people into the capital of the Hawkeye State. About 29 percent of new residents in Des Moines are under 35. With a median home price of $153,000, it’s no wonder the National Association of Realtors ranked Des Moines as one of the top 10 cities for young homebuyers.

 Average rent: $725 | Average home price: $127,266

 

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Millennials are hitting the Rockies, and not just to snowboard. Colorado Springs offers tech jobs — FedEx has a “green” data center — as well as fun startups such as Borealis Fat Bikes, luring in young job seekers in droves (the number of Millennial-aged residents expanded 3.2 percent last year). Easy access to the 14,117-foot Pikes Peak helps, as does plentiful sun (even if the number of sunny days may actually fall short of the eye-brow raising claim of 300). Trulia named Colorado Springs the most surprisingly hot market for Millennials in a recent survey.

Average rent: $1,369 | Average home price: $327,741

 

Seattle, Washington

While major employers like Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks have helped fuel Seattle’s economy, more startups are moving north of Silicon Valley and bringing young entrepreneurs with them, as well. From 2010 to 2012, 28 percent of all the people moving into Seattle were Millennials. It helps that the city boasts a low unemployment rate of 5.6 percent. Yet with the improving economy comes the inevitable rise in rent prices. The average rent in Seattle is nearly $2,000.

Average rent: $1,916 | Average home price: $633,302

 

New Orleans, Louisiana

What’s not to love about the Big Easy? Restaurants like Cochon and Commander’s Palace offer a cuisine unlike anything else in the world, while Mardi Gras is hard to top for a good time. The scene has been buoyed by an influx of youth —the young adult population grew by 14.7 percent from 2007 to 2012 — and a low unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.

Average rent: $2,109 | Average home price: $251,859

 

Portland, Oregon

Portland is an old reliable for Millennials, who make up 15 percent of the city’s population. You may be drawn to the offbeat culture, regularly lampooned on “Portlandia,” or bike-friendly policies that offer healthier alternatives to get to work. If you want to volunteer for community service, you’re in the right place — Oregon has the highest percentage of Millennials volunteering for social causes in the country. Yet rents are on the rise — an apartment in downtown Portland costs $1.82 a square foot ($1,456 for an 800-square-foot apartment).

Average rent: $1,510 | Average home price: $431,566

 

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City has the lowest unemployment rate on the list, at only 3.8 percent. Job growth was at 3.0 percent in 2013, while the average rent remains below $1,000. If those numbers don’t impress, Utah ski officials’ plans to link seven ski resorts with a centralized ski lift route will leave winter sports-loving Millennials chomping at the bit. It’s a fun city to live in, and not just during the weekend ski season. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts offers culture and the Great Salt Lake, the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River, attracts the outdoorsy types during the warmer months.

Average rent: $997 | Average home price: $437,043

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