Top 15 Cities for Young Professionals (2024)

For young professionals looking to decide where to settle, they need to think about not only where the jobs are but where it will be affordable to live. The cost of living in the US is becoming increasingly expensive, with data from the Consumer Price Index suggesting that the cost of shelter increased by 5.7% …


For young professionals looking to decide where to settle, they need to think about not only where the jobs are but where it will be affordable to live. The cost of living in the US is becoming increasingly expensive, with data from the Consumer Price Index suggesting that the cost of shelter increased by 5.7%  between February 2023 and February 2024. With Americans spending around 33.3% of their income on housing, this is a significant consideration. Beyond expenses, other factors such as safety, activities for young people, and prospects for raising a family are all things that young professionals might take into account when choosing their next city. 

If you’re a young professional looking for the right city for you, we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve looked at various factors, including earning potential, volume of young people, cost of housing, and unemployment rates and come up with the best 15 US cities for young professionals. The majority of our research comes from official data from the US Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How We Determined Our List

Population and age range

We looked at the population of the cities as a whole and then the percentage of people aged between 25 and 34 – an age range likely to be already in employment rather than still studying. This gave us an idea of how much of the population is represented by young professionals.

Earning potential

A key priority for young professionals is earning money so we assessed the average salaries of different cities to give an idea of how much you might be able to earn here. Alongside this, we also looked at the unemployment rate so that we could assess the chances of finding employment for young professionals in these cities.

Cost of living

It’s not enough to just know how much people are able to earn in a city but also how much they will need to spend on living costs. With the average American spending 33.3% of their income on housing, we looked at how much the average rent would be.

Top 15 Cities For Young Professionals for 2024

Austin, Texas

Austin often features in top lists for starting a business or for graduates seeking jobs due to being the home to over 5,500 startups as well as some of the world’s biggest companies including Google and Meta. As a result, it attracts a lot of young talent. Not only that, but the median income is on the rise, increasing 9,8% just from 2022 to 2023 and 27.5% between 2019 and 2023. As well as being one of the best cities for earning potential, the weather, nightlife, music and entertainment options makes it a great place to be young, single and ready to mingle.

Austin, Texas is the 10th largest city in the US

Seattle, Washington

This Washington city is famous for being the birthplace of Starbucks and also the home of Amazon and Microsoft offices so it’s no surprise that it’s recognized as a business hub. Not the cheapest city on our list, Seattle has high earning potential with wages steadily increasing – even the minimum wage will be nearly $20 by 2025. Aside from work life, Seattle is a great place to be young with tons of outdoor activities, city attractions and a thriving music scene.

Seattle’s job market is on an ongoing upward trajectory

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Twin Cities of Minnesota – Minneapolis and Saint Paul – have become a hotspot for young professionals and has identified itself as one of the US’s leading tech hubs. Minneapolis has one of the lowest costs of living of the cities on our list – about 2% lower than the state average and 6% lower than the national average. With great earning potentials, relatively affording housing and low unemployment, it is also densely populated with young people. Between green spaces, foodie favorites and a thriving bike system, there is no shortage of fun to be had for young professionals heading to Minnesota’s largest city.

A recent study voted Minneapolis #1 city for single young professionals

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Michigan’s hidden gem, Ann Arbor, is consistently voted as one of the best small cities in the US and one of the best places to live in Michigan, and it’s easy to see why. The smallest of the cities on our list, Ann Arbor strikes a balance between big city amenities and entertainment with a small town feel – making it a perfect place to live. As well as being a super walkable city, it is also buzzing with activity – from college football games to a plethora of parks, culinary options, cultural activities and coffee shops. It is also known as being one of the most educated cities in the US with 53% of the population boasting a bachelor’s degree and the highest percentage of people with graduate or professional degrees.

The smallest city on our list, Ann Arbor has all big city amenities with a small town feel

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is a hotspot for young professionals looking to kick start their career or take their corporate journey to the next level. Aside from excellent job opportunities, a growing tech industry and a thriving work scene, Atlanta is also a relatively cheap place to live – with housing around 1% cheaper than the US average and utilities around 19% cheaper. It is also known to be one of the most fun cities with tons of entertainment options and a dynamic music and arts scene.

Atlanta offers big city living at a fraction of the price. Cost of living is 23.2% less expensive than New York

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus is becoming an extremely popular choice for young professionals due to the low cost of living and higher than average annual salary. With a cost of living roughly 7.5% lower than the US national average, it is a great option for people just starting out in their careers. Its relatively small size also makes it perfectly accessible, with a 15 minute average commute. This small town feel also makes it one of the US’s friendliest cities. It is also a hub of innovation and an entrepreneurial hotspot.

Columbus, Ohio is one of the US’s youngest cities with one of the densest populations of millennials

Omaha, Nebraska

Thanks to a diverse and resilient economy, Omaha has a consistently lower-than-average unemployment rate. This, coupled with a thriving job market and a 7% income growth rate year-over-year, makes Omaha one of the best places to be for young professionals looking to begin their career journey. Not only that, but Omaha is becoming an increasingly trendy place to live with plenty of outdoor and entertainment options and a rich cultural scene. Rent in Omaha makes up only 18.28% of the median earnings for full-time workers – one of the lowest rates in the US – meaning that your earnings can go further.

Omaha is 24.9% less expensive than New York (without rent) and rent is, on average, 62.7% lower

Des Moines, Iowa

Young professionals moving to Des Moines benefit from a cost-of-living that is 14% lower than the national average. It is also one of the cities most densely populated with young people with around 107,000 people aged 20-34. Easy to get around, an impressive gastronomic scene and no shortage of fun activities for young people, this is a great city for young professionals to call home.

San Jose, California

Although San Jose is one of the most expensive places to live on our list, we couldn’t miss it out. The capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is undeniably one of the best options for young professionals, especially for those looking to join a startup or get into tech. Out of the 150 most populous metro areas across the US, San Jose has the strongest job market. Though the prices are high, so is the earning potential. It is also hailed for being a safe and happy city. Surrounded by hills, it is also a beautiful place to live.

San Jose boasts the highest average salary on our list

Wichita, Kansas

It’s no surprise that Witchita is becoming a popular favorite for young professionals when you look at the prices. With groceries, food and clothing around 1% less in Wichita than the rest of the US, the real saving is housing costs which are 32% cheaper than the US average. In addition to the low living costs, it’s also becoming a center of entrepreneurship and home to multiple jobs – especially in the manufacturing sector.

Wichita, Kansas has the lowest average rent of all the cities on our list

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City offers plenty of job opportunities and a healthy job market in plenty of sectors. In recent years, it has also become a hotspot for remote work opportunities, attracting many younger people. Add to that its affordable living, sports scene and cultural activities, and you can see why Kansas City is a great place for young professionals.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte has a reputation for blending Southern charm with a bustling modern city. With a wide range of affordable living options and a diverse job economy, Charlotte is becoming increasingly popular as a location for young professionals. Not only that, but it boasts cheaper than average living costs. The cost of living in Charlotte is 3% lower than the national average while housing and utilities are 11% and 12% lower, respectively. Throw in warm weather all year round, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Frisco, Texas

The second Texas city to make the list, Frisco, Texas is gaining popularity with the younger generation. Although the housing and utilities are more than the national US average, daily expenses such as bus, gas and groceries are lower. Frisco is also ranked one of the safest cities to live in America – something increasingly prioritized by Gen Z and Millennials. With plenty of parks and trails, and a downtown full of shopping, entertainment and dining options, there is plenty to keep the younger generation busy outside of work.

Boise, Idaho

Capital of Idaho, Boise, boasts low income tax and high salaries. Despite a slightly higher cost of living, median household income is higher than average and unemployment rate is consistently low. Beyond that, Boise’s exciting nightlife opportunities, ample job market and stunning mountain surroundings make it a perfect place for young professionals to flock to.

Forbes ranked Des Moines #2 Best Place for Business

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

With a great transport system, affordable housing and a strong job market, Pittsburgh is becoming an ideal destination for young professionals. Not only that, but it is hailed as a safe city with plenty of green space and outdoor activities. Known as one of the most affordable major cities, Pittsburgh blends history with innovation and boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene.

The Pittsburgh region has a dense population of young professionals with ~490,000 people aged 25-39

See The Data Breakdown

Geographic Area NameTotal Population% of Population Aged 25-34Unemployment %Average RentAverage Salary
Austin, Texas974,44721.13.30$1707$65,250
Seattle, Washington749,25615.13.90$2054$76,147
Minneapolis, Minnesota425,09621.63.40$1450$65,250
Ann Arbor, Michigan119,87518.32.50$1993$56,037
Atlanta, Georgia499,12719.73.60$1797$59,160
Columbus, Ohio907,97119.64.00$1248$73,000
Omaha, Nebraska485,15315.52.80$1209$75,713
Des Moines, Iowa211,03424.02.80$1028$68,112
San Jose, California971,23318.04.20$2954$87,910
Wichita, Kansas396,19215.03.30$876$56,481
Kansas City, Missouri509,29716.43.90$1256$63,081
Charlotte, North Carolina897,72013.33.80$1628$68,708
Frisco, Texas219,58725.63.60$1810$53,583
Boise, Idaho236,63416.33.50$1605$63,935
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania302,89814.63.40$1511$59,784

Last Updated on May 23, 2024 by Lara Dolden

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