With 36 percent of young american adults between the ages of 18 and 31 currently living at home, the dream of youthful self-dependence has long since been tainted. This ‘boomerang generation’ have had attempts to leave the nest thwarted by high rents, poor job prospects and the weight of huge college debts. These are the problems that often shackle the young to the family homestead – but if you were to take the leap, get out there and get by, where would your best chances lie?
The following list ranks the 10 best American cities to be young in, counting down to the number 1 very best city to enjoy your youth in the U.S. Our selection is based on Vocativ’s ranking of the most livable American cities for young people, among the 50 most populated cities in the country according to the 2010 census. Their Livability Index brings into play a series of indicators crucial to the well-being of 18 to 35 year olds, such as the average salary, employment rates, the price of rent and domestic upkeep, as well as everyday factors which these sorts of data ranking systems often leave out, such as bike lane quality for getting around cheaply, accessibility of gigs and coffee shops, the cost of internet subscriptions, the price of food and beer and even an estimation of how far out of pocket an ounce of high quality weed would put you.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re a 20-something waiting for the right time to jump ship and unattach yourself from the apron strings, think about relocating to one of these 10 cities.
10. Phoenix, Arizona
Arizona’s capital has a booming population of 1,445,632 on the rise, despite its subtropical climate and location in the Sonoran desert. With an average age of 31.8, you wouldn’t be the only youngster to hit up Phoenix city. So what’s the attraction? Accommodation, for starters is accessible, with a very reasonable average rent of $800 for a two-bedroom place. To boot, Phoenix has the cheapest cost for groceries of all of the American cities on our list. With its many performing arts venues, festivals and museums, there’s always something happening in Phoenix. And for fun on the cheap, there are plenty of national parks around to explore. And when it comes to nightlife, it is more than affordable, with a pint of Guinness only setting you back a fiver.
9. Denver, Colorado
At the edge of the Rocky Mountains, Denver has more than just fresh air to recommend it. With a temperate climate, a low cost of groceries, and a diversity of music venues to enjoy, it is recognised as one of the most agreeable places to live when you’re young. The beautiful city is best known for its microbreweries, flourishing technology industry and proximity to nature (and the slopes in winter, if you have a bit of cash to spare). The unemployment rate of 7.2 could be better but is not altogether disheartening. Those that do find jobs receive a comfortable average salary of $56, 000 per year.
8. Long Beach, California
Although Long Beach is the United States’ second busiest container port, and amongst the world’s biggest shipping ports, it’s got an all-round relaxed vibe. Often described as a ‘city within a city’, Long Beach is Los Angeles’ trendy, chilled-out counterpart. With flourishing tourism, arts and music scenes, Long Beach is a laid back, agreeable hub, away from the bustle of the city. Long Beach’s developed cycle lane system adds to the positive atmosphere, encouraging people to get around by bike and keeping traffic, pollution and noise levels down. The average salary in Long Beach is an alluring $63, 000 and the unemployment rate is of 6.1%, the fifth lowest of the cities on our list.
7. Atlanta, Georgia
With a high average salary of $73, 000 and cheap ways to have fun at the ready, Atlanta seems like a perfect place for young people starting out in life. The unemployment rate is high at 10.9% though, so best secure a job before heading over. With a job, rent is manageable at $1, 310 for two bedrooms and the price of utilities is fair. When it comes to trends, Atlanta also tops the rankings, placed second in the category of secondhand retail. With 8.6% of the population single, it is one of the more likely places to meet your other half – and there is a huge variety of places to do so, with roughly 400 music, arts and nightlife venues to choose from.
6. Las Vegas, Nevada
If you can avoid flashing your cash in its grand casinos, Las Vegas ranks as one of the top places for young people to live. The isolated resort-city has healthy creative, service and tech job sectors, so a variety of potential jobs are on offer. It is the leading financial and cultural centre for Southern Nevada. With a young, single population of 14.9% there is also romance to be found. The nightlife is, of course, key to Vegas’s charm, and is the US’s number one city when it comes to the quantity of music venues around. However, although the cost of cigarettes, internet and accommodation ($830 for a two bedroom) are relatively low, there is almost no transport system whatsoever so a car (or at least a bike and central accommodation) is essential.
5. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis is an environmentally-friendly haven, particularly lauded for its excellent bicycle system and routes. If caffeine is what gets you through the day then you are in luck – Minneapolis is the city that has the highest number of coffee shops in the country proportionate to its population. The progressive and affordable city is renowned for its Midwestern charm. It has a huge live music scene, cheap utilities and low-cost gas. Unemployment is relatively low at 5.3% and salaries average a respectable $52, 000. The only downside to the city can be its climate, with winter temperatures that have hit as low as -41°F.
4. Seattle, Washington
Seattle or ‘The Emerald City’ as it is known, ranks as the number one city for cheap utilities. However, rents are very high with an average cost of $1, 580 for a two bedroom place. Seattle compensates for this expense and makes its way on to our list because of its low unemployment rate – which, at 4.7%, is respectable – and its impressive average salary of $62, 000. Inexpensive takeaway food is widely available and a beer will set you back a mere $5.50. The city also has an excellent public transport system, as well as miles of protected bike lanes that are a haven for any commuting cyclists looking to stay safe from the manic traffic of the city.
3. San Francisco, California
Northern California’s San Francisco offers accommodation at the extortionate average price of $4, 000 for a 2-bedroom apartment. It also has very high electricity prices, and grocery shopping isn’t cheap. However, for those able to get a job in San Fran, salaries reflect the high cost of living, averaging $79, 000. For such a big city, unemployment is relatively low at 5.9% and the public transport system is cheap, covers a vast sprawl, and is known to be efficient. San Francisco’s magic lies in its entertainment scene – the city is known for its buzzing variety of alternative art, live music and culinary hot-spots.
2. Austin, Texas
Although Austin’s progressive attitude and flourishing live music scenes have made it increasingly popular, the city has managed to maintain its affordability and original take on city life. With an average age of 30.9, the city is young and largely made up of artistic types looking to blend into and feed the creative environment that the city offers. Some are also looking for love – Austin has the highest rate of young singles out of the cities on our list at 15.3%. More and more people are turning to bikes for transport here, though most still get around by car. Cheap food and beer are the cherry on the cake.
1. Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon’s biggest city, ranks as the number one most livable city for young people in America. With a thriving job market and affordable accommodation and utilities, Portland promises opportunity. The city is also renowned for its creative and collective spirit from which many young entrepreneurs have launched their projects. Rich in music venues and coffee shops, there’s always something happening in Portland. It is also the number one place on the list for buying cheap weed (though that’s yet to be legalised in Oregon) and a beer goes for $6. With a temperate oceanic climate it’s a pleasant place to live all year round.