10 best cities in the US for young people

City living should be an adventure, and these places have what you need

Editorial Team

By Editorial Team

seattle downtown skyline with Mt Rainier in background

As a young adult, perhaps even as a recent graduate, your needs are different from those of your parents. You want to find a place to live that offers great jobs and opportunities. But you also want to be in a place where you can start fresh and have the agency and freedom to fill your evenings and weekends with new experiences. More than likely, you are looking for some of the best cities for young people and the best places to live in your 20s.

How to find the best city

Finding the best city relies on many factors. Some of them are personal preferences and what you are comfortable with. Others include the number of entry-level jobs in the city. This is important because as a recent grad or a young adult, you likely don’t have the required skills to qualify for an advanced position. However, to get them, you have to get experience. Having a range of entry-level jobs to choose from can help with this endeavor. An increasing number of recent grads are falling into a trap of mini-jobs and underemployment. While jobs in food service, caring, and hospitality can help bridge graduation and your first career, it’s best to focus your city search on hubs for entry-level positions

Commuting time and public transportation

Whether you are someone who enjoys commuting or not, it can have an impact on making the city where you live the best or just tolerable. This ties into the public transportation system that exists. If you don’t have a car, you still need to find a way to work. If you do have a car, you don’t want to spend the vast majority of your day stuck in traffic. The best cities will know how to get people to and from work with ease. That means you can spend less time on the road and more time getting started with your free time. Having the right transportation also means easy access to entertainment. That’s another consideration when finding the best city

Are there other young people there?

2 happy women walking on city street with bikes

Being around people who are like-minded can be beneficial. It’s how friendships and connections are formed. Being in a city that has a thriving young population means having events and services that will cater to that crowd and make life exciting. Often, the best places for millennials to live are hubs for tech, the arts, and education.

What is life like after work and on the weekend?

While moving to a new city for a job might be the deciding factor for many young people, it’s not the only one. If they work hard, they want to play hard too. Having access to entertainment and a base of others in your age group can make an okay city into your personal best city to live in

Will a person’s paycheck go far?

Most people don’t want to have to work just to pay bills. This can make life tedious and boring. However, there are certain payments that have to be made, including payments for living accommodations. Your hard-earned money should go beyond the necessities and allow you to do something fun every once in a while. Consider the cost of living in your shortlist of cities closely

A selection of the best American cities for young people

With the criteria in place, cities around the U.S. were considered and looked at. Each of them has its pros and cons. You’ll have to make the final decision of which one you think is best, but below are ten of the best cities in the U.S. for young people (in no particular order).

  1. Albany, NY
  2. Des Moines, IA
  3. Nashville, TN
  4. Boston, MA
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. Huntsville, AL
  8. San Francisco, CA
  9. Washington, DC
  10. Seattle, WA

Albany, New York

Albany has some of the best public transportation there is, so getting to work isn’t an issue. It also means having access to other parts of the city, including bars and restaurants to get together with friends after work and for entertainment.

Des Moines, Iowa

des Moines Iowa skyline in USA

This city is home to a strong job market and a reasonable cost of living. It also has short commute times. The population has been increasing steadily over the last few years, brought on by an inbound migration of younger people. There are also things to do within the city and outside of it after work and on the weekends

Nashville, Tennessee

This city has a low unemployment rate. It may be best known for its music scene, but there are also plenty of jobs related to healthcare and healthcare technology in the area. There is a great after-work scene, as well as plenty of live music to keep you entertained

Boston, Massachusetts

boston city skyline at night

The job market is strong in this city. It is the home to many higher education institutions, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College, and Boston University. These schools attract a large population of students. However, the area also hosts the headquarters for a number of industries and institutions, which means jobs! These employment opportunities include, but are not limited to, healthcare, education, hospitality, and tourism

San Jose, California

If you’re looking for a job in the tech industry, then this is the place you want to be. Housing is incredibly pricey in the area, but incomes are generally higher. This offsets the cost of living. It’s also sunny and warm which goes hand-in-hand with classic South Bay activities like hiking, wildlife viewing, and boating

Phoenix, Arizona

If you’re looking for a place that is sunny and warm pretty much year-round, then this city is for you. You can spend your time by the pool or exploring the areas outside and within the city. The major industries in the area include tourism, financial services, and tech. Your paycheck will also stretch further when it comes to living accommodations here.

Huntsville, Alabama

As the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal, some of the major industries in this city are defense and aerospace. It also has some of the lowest housing prices and where the median rent sits at $821 per month. That means that your paycheck has the ability to go further here. There is also an abundance of outdoor activities in the area, as well as restaurants and nightclubs

San Francisco, California

This city has a higher cost of living than some of the other places, but it also has an incredibly strong job market. It is also close to a variety of outdoor and weekend activities from live music to climbing among Redwoods. The after-work scene is varied across neighborhoods and budgets. Salaried young professionals will find no shortage of likeminded individuals looking to launch the next best thing

Washington, D.C.

When looking for a strong job market, this city has you covered. It is known for having jobs in the federal government, but there are also options in healthcare, education, financial services, insurance, and tourism. The average median salary is also higher than the national average, thanks to comfy jobs with the federal government, higher education institutions, and the tourism sector

Seattle, Washington

If you’re looking for an abundance of high-paying jobs in various sectors, then Seattle is where you want to be. Employers such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing have headquarters here, so there are many options for advancement and relocations to other offices. In addition, the city is close to outdoor activities such as hiking and boating. It also has a thriving young population and tolerable commute times.

Finding housing

When it comes to finding housing in these places, it’s possible to find places to rent or buy. If you’re only going to be in the area temporarily, then renting is probably the better option. Many of them have a wide array of places to choose from, and working with a company like Blueground can be beneficial. All of their apartments are fully furnished, thoughtfully equipped, and ideally located, making the rental process easy for any young person.

Finding the best cities for young people doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are many options to choose from in the U.S. It will come down to personal preference and your ability to find a job. In the end, you should go where you are happiest and where you can thrive over the long term. 

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The Blueground editorial team covers the best things to see, do, and experience in our cities around the world.