Having recently graduated from college, many Millennials are on the move. Their ideal place to call home is surprisingly different from their preceding generation, who were attracted to the hustle and bustle of large cities. However, large city living comes with a hefty price by way of narrow job prospects and steep living costs, making it difficult to live comfortably.
What was once seen as a refusal by Millennials to buy a house or a car can now be understood as a financially intelligent move to delay these major purchases. In most cases, single-family homes are more affordable in suburban areas than in urban city centers. In fact, a whopping 66 percent of millennials said they would prefer to live in the suburbs according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Aside from a more affordable cost of living, young professionals thrive in cities that boast job growth, a rising economy, and easy access to entertainment and nightlife. Based on these key components, the following cities (in no particular order) are ideal environments for new college graduates.
In 2014, Outside Magazine named Provo the second best place to live in America. Provo, Utah’s third largest city, has received national recognition in several publications for work-life balance, job growth, and recreational opportunities to name a few. An active community, stellar businesses and start-ups, and access to outdoor recreation helped Provo earn this impressive title.
What’s even more impressive is Provo’s 5.2 percent annual job growth far exceeds the 1.9 percent increase nationally and its unemployment rate is 2.7 percent, which is almost half the national average, according to the U.S. Labor Department. This Utah gem is also a very affordable place to live. In fact, a study published by Bloomberg Business shows that Provo ranked second on the list of cities where Millennials in the 25-34 age range purchased their first home.
Located across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., Arlington is a place where residents can do it all: live, work, shop, and play all while using transit, pedestrian walkways, bikes, or cars. In 2002, Arlington County won the Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Achievement Award for creating lively “urban villages.” Arlington’s smart growth allowed for a wide range of housing including apartments, condos, townhomes, and single-family homes, making it an ideal location for Millennials to live.
Millennials are sure to feel at home here since Arlington County’s Millennial population is higher than any other age group and roughly 72 percent of residents 25 years and older has at least a four year degree. With plenty of jobs in business, management, science, and arts, as well as competitive salaries, Arlington is a great spot for Millennials to consider after graduation.
A twenty minute drive from Boston, Cambridge offers a suburban, historic feel. Although Cambridge is notorious for its high cost of living, there is an abundance of job opportunities, most notably in the technology sector–making it a great place to build a career. Cambridge is home to two prominent universities: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, so it may come as no surprise that the major industries in Cambridge are Education and Technology.
Here, Millennials will be surrounded by fellow scholars since 75 percent of the population over the age of 25 has either a bachelor degree or a graduate degree.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina is located near Research Triangle Park (RTP), which is home to over 170 thriving companies and is anchored by its three founding universities: NC State University, Duke University, and UNC Chapel Hill. Ever since RTP was established, the area has experienced a steady increase in the number of companies and employees.
With a median base salary of $50,679, an affordable housing market, and close proximity to many reputable companies, Raleigh is an ideal city for Millennials to get their start professionally.
A cultural hotspot with a booming market, Austin, Texas is home to the Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest Film Festival. Forbes named Austin number one on its list of Best Cities for Future Job Growth. With a projected annual job growth of 4.0 percent and a median household income of $59,554, Austin is a prime location for job opportunities.
Austin’s emphasis on sustainability is also attractive to Millennials. The City of Austin is number five on the EPA ranking of the largest Local Government Green Power Users.
In the end…
Ultimately, to get the best value for their dollar (and the best jobs possible), it’s important for Millennials to look beyond large cities like New York or Los Angeles, which feature so heavily in the popular imagination. After all, there’s a lot to be had in prosperous, smaller cities: less stress, a better work-life balance, a lower cost of living, and best of all, plenty of opportunity.