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30 Best Cities for Young Professionals

Davel5957 / Getty Images
Davel5957 / Getty Images

The younger generations, especially millennials, often get a bad rap for their work ethic. But in 2016, they surpassed Generation Xers to become the single largest generational group in the U.S. labor force, according to the Pew Research Center, soon to be followed by Gen Z as this younger generation comes of age to work.

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Gen Z, who comprise 20.3% of the U.S. population, are almost as big as Millennials, who comprise 22% of the population, according to GreatPlacetoWork.com. With more and more Baby Boomers retiring, Millennials and Gen Z will comprise the largest portion of the workforce for a very long time, with younger generations dominating the working class. And they are flocking to cities where jobs are in abundance and wages are high. Whether recent graduates or several years into their careers, many young professionals are more flexible when it comes to moving to a new city for better opportunities. But which city will give these career starters the best chance for success?

To find the 30 best cities for young professionals, GOBankingRates looked at 100 of the most populous cities in the U.S. as drawn from the 2021 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. Then we drew data from Then, we gathered data from Zillow, Sperling's Best, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey data to find the best cities for young professionals to live affordably.

While you won't find San Francisco or Los Angeles on this list, you'll find a lot of great cities where Millennials and Gen Z can flourish.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

30. Mesa, Arizona

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,395

  • Population ages 20-34: 509,492

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 5.7%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 4.5%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 79.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 87.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 88.3%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $23,693.42

    • Ages 25-34: $43,737.08

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,638.48

    • Ages 25-34: $17,484.86

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sdominick / Getty Images/iStockphoto
sdominick / Getty Images/iStockphoto

29. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $16,700

  • Population ages 20-34: 300,454

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 7.4%

    • Ages 25-29: 8.4%

    • Ages 30-34: 5%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 64.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 87.0%

    • Ages 30-34: 89.1%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $21,143.92

    • Ages 25-34: $39,030.79

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,379.25

    • Ages 25-34: $17,127.12

graphiknation / Getty Images/iStockphoto
graphiknation / Getty Images/iStockphoto

28. Atlanta, Georgia

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $24,262

  • Population ages 20-34: 496,480

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 11.6%

    • Ages 25-29: 2.2%

    • Ages 30-34: 4.1%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 65.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 91.0%

    • Ages 30-34: 88.6%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $30,869.02

    • Ages 25-34: $56,982.93

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $12,240.32

    • Ages 25-34: $18,384.53

Davel5957 / iStock.com
Davel5957 / iStock.com

27. Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $13,828

  • Population ages 20-34: 263,814

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 9%

    • Ages 25-29: 4%

    • Ages 30-34: 1.7%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 80.8%

    • Ages 25-29: 84.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 79.6%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $19,932.10

    • Ages 25-34: $36,793.82

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $9,860.70

    • Ages 25-34: $15,206.80

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

26. Gilbert, Arizona

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $26,362

  • Population ages 20-34: 273,138

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 2.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 5.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 3%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 88.7%

    • Ages 25-29: 90.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 84.9%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $34,584.53

    • Ages 25-34: $63,841.61

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,888.38

    • Ages 25-34: $17,815.81

Greg Cluff / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Greg Cluff / Getty Images/iStockphoto

25. Chandler, Arizona

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $24,370

  • Population ages 20-34: 279,445

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 6.4%

    • Ages 25-29: 2.9%

    • Ages 30-34: 6.6%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 83.4%

    • Ages 25-29: 90.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 85.9%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $33,688.17

    • Ages 25-34: $62,186.97

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,640.58

    • Ages 25-34: $17,506.80

Richard Bittles / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Richard Bittles / Getty Images/iStockphoto

24. Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,918

  • Population ages 20-34: 273,138

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 9.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 5.3%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 83.5%

    • Ages 25-29: 86.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 85.2%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $26,154.98

    • Ages 25-34: $48,281.01

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,524.61

    • Ages 25-34: $15,866.14

Kruck20 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Kruck20 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

23. Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,239

  • Population ages 20-34: 273,138

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 8.1%

    • Ages 25-29: 5.2%

    • Ages 30-34: 4.1%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 75.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 88.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 87.3%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $27,884.50

    • Ages 25-34: $51,473.63

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,971.59

    • Ages 25-34: $16,680.14

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

22. Saint Petersburg, Florida

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,239

  • Population ages 20-34: 273,138

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 10.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.2%

    • Ages 30-34: 6.8%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 80.6%

    • Ages 25-29: 96.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 91.6%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $25,317.08

    • Ages 25-34: $46,734.28

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,428.46

    • Ages 25-34: $17,474.13

Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock.com

21. Lubbock, Texas

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $24,547

  • Population ages 20-34: 260,990

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 9.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.1%

    • Ages 30-34: 7.9%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 78.8%

    • Ages 25-29: 84.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 88.2%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $17,039.74

    • Ages 25-34: $31,454.65

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $9,834.01

    • Ages 25-34: $15,513.94

aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com
aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com

20. Lexington, Kentucky

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $16,093

  • Population ages 20-34: 260,990

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 7.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 1%

    • Ages 30-34: 5.3%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 73.8%

    • Ages 25-29: 86.9%

    • Ages 30-34: 85.6%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $20,278.63

    • Ages 25-34: $37,433.51

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,384.56

    • Ages 25-34: $15,973.74

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

19. Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,943

  • Population ages 20-34: 260,990

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 10.6%

    • Ages 25-29: 1.7%

    • Ages 30-34: 3.7%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 86.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 86.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 87.6%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $28,188.38

    • Ages 25-34: $52,034.57

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,130.13

    • Ages 25-34: $17,050.99

Don Mammoser / Shutterstock.com
Don Mammoser / Shutterstock.com

18. Reno, Nevada

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,764

  • Population ages 20-34: 268,843

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 3.1%

    • Ages 25-29: 4.4%

    • Ages 30-34: 5.6%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 76.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 90.0%

    • Ages 30-34: 85.9%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $24,727.24

    • Ages 25-34: $45,645.45

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,858.84

    • Ages 25-34: $16,550.71

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17. Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $19,221

  • Population ages 20-34: 425,338

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 8.4%

    • Ages 25-29: 6.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 10.2%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 74.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 89.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 90.1%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $27,573.78

    • Ages 25-34: $50,900.04

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,280.93

    • Ages 25-34: $16,773.06

MoreISO / Getty Images
MoreISO / Getty Images

16. Nashville, Tennessee

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,983

  • Population ages 20-34: 678,845

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 3.8%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 4.7%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 73.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 86.4%

    • Ages 30-34: 87.6%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $27,269.37

    • Ages 25-34: $50,338.13

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,274.01

    • Ages 25-34: $17,159.94

styxclick / Getty Images/iStockphoto
styxclick / Getty Images/iStockphoto

15. Columbus, Ohio

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $16,963

  • Population ages 20-34: 678,845

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 6.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 5.9%

    • Ages 30-34: 4.6%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 76.7%

    • Ages 25-29: 87.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 85.0%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $24,686.69

    • Ages 25-34: $45,570.59

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,636.89

    • Ages 25-34: $16,183.13

Davel5957 / iStock.com
Davel5957 / iStock.com

14. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $14,598

  • Population ages 20-34: 678,845

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 6.2%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 2.7%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 79.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 87.9%

    • Ages 30-34: 86.2%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $21,151.29

    • Ages 25-34: $39,044.40

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,456.33

    • Ages 25-34: $16,335.39

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

13. Richmond, Virginia

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $16,760

  • Population ages 20-34: 226,604

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 10.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.5%

    • Ages 30-34: 6.2%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 76.5%

    • Ages 25-29: 86.9%

    • Ages 30-34: 88.2%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $21,560.49

    • Ages 25-34: $39,799.78

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,378.27

    • Ages 25-34: $15,992.73

Iris van den Broek / Shutterstock.com
Iris van den Broek / Shutterstock.com

12. Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $16,565

  • Population ages 20-34: 307,176

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 8.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 7.1%

    • Ages 30-34: 2.8%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 80.4%

    • Ages 25-29: 90.0%

    • Ages 30-34: 87.6%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $26,377.23

    • Ages 25-34: $48,691.27

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,251.44

    • Ages 25-34: $16,721.84

TS Photographer / Shutterstock.com
TS Photographer / Shutterstock.com

11. Seattle, Washington

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $27,010

  • Population ages 20-34: 733,904

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 10.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.4%

    • Ages 30-34: 5.1%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 73.2%

    • Ages 25-29: 87.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 90.9%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $39,551.36

    • Ages 25-34: $73,010.17

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $12,241.47

    • Ages 25-34: $18,062.53

Charles Knowles / Shutterstock.com
Charles Knowles / Shutterstock.com

10. Boise, Idaho

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $21,311

  • Population ages 20-34: 237,457

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 3.5%

    • Ages 25-29: 4.5%

    • Ages 30-34: 2%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 84.7%

    • Ages 25-29: 87.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 84.1%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $25,162.78

    • Ages 25-34: $46,449.44

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,100.12

    • Ages 25-34: $15,580.91

mrtom-uk / Getty Images
mrtom-uk / Getty Images

9. Durham, North Carolina

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $19,341

  • Population ages 20-34: 285,439

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 6.7%

    • Ages 25-29: 2.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 3.6%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 66.4%

    • Ages 25-29: 78.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 88.1%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $26,427.79

    • Ages 25-34: $48,784.60

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $7,679.14

    • Ages 25-34: $12,031.54

Nicolas McComber / Getty Images
Nicolas McComber / Getty Images

8. Austin, Texas

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $22,408

  • Population ages 20-34: 964,000

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 7%

    • Ages 25-29: 4.4%

    • Ages 30-34: 5%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 73.4%

    • Ages 25-29: 90.0%

    • Ages 30-34: 92.2%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $30,462.45

    • Ages 25-34: $56,232.41

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,542.85

    • Ages 25-34: $16,264.84$17,506.23

Wallace Weeks / Shutterstock.com
Wallace Weeks / Shutterstock.com

7. Kansas City, Missouri

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $14,731

  • Population ages 20-34: 964,000

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 5.2%

    • Ages 25-29: 6.5%

    • Ages 30-34: 5.6%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 83.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 87.9%

    • Ages 30-34: 91.2%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $22,703.32

    • Ages 25-34: $41,909.39

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,671.99

    • Ages 25-34: $16,425.35

MarynaG / Shutterstock.com
MarynaG / Shutterstock.com

6. Madison, Wisconsin

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $20,903

  • Population ages 20-34: 964,000

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 6.6%

    • Ages 25-29: 2.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 3.1%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 72.2%

    • Ages 25-29: 85.6%

    • Ages 30-34: 90.0%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $23,051.44

    • Ages 25-34: $42,552.00

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,591.74

    • Ages 25-34: $16,208.90

welcomia / Shutterstock.com
welcomia / Shutterstock.com

5. Denver, Colorado

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $20,903

  • Population ages 20-34: 711,463

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 11.1%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 4.6%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 84.5%

    • Ages 25-29: 92.2%

    • Ages 30-34: 90.3%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $33,558.09

    • Ages 25-34: $61,946.84

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,667.43

    • Ages 25-34: $17,382.73

virsuziglis / Getty Images/iStockphoto
virsuziglis / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Norfolk, Virginia

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $17,488

  • Population ages 20-34: 235,089

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 8.8%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.9%

    • Ages 30-34: 3.2%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 84.0%

    • Ages 25-29: 84.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 86.7%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $21,918.62

    • Ages 25-34: $40,460.85

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,356.82

    • Ages 25-34: $16,054.73

JacobH / Getty Images/iStockphoto
JacobH / Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Scottsdale, Arizona

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $26,575

  • Population ages 20-34: 242,754

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 1.8%

    • Ages 25-29: 4.7%

    • Ages 30-34: 2.8%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 87.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 93.0%

    • Ages 30-34: 92.7%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $35,759.49

    • Ages 25-34: $66,010.52

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $11,667.97

    • Ages 25-34: $17,571.33

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

2. Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $13,588

  • Population ages 20-34: 292,648

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 3.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 3.4%

    • Ages 30-34: 0.5%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 85.3%

    • Ages 25-29: 90.3%

    • Ages 30-34: 84.2%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $21,176.04

    • Ages 25-34: $39,090.09

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $10,355.15

    • Ages 25-34: $16,507.85

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

1. Arlington, Virginia

  • Median annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $28,659

  • Population ages 20-34: 232,965

  • Unemployment rate

    • Ages 20-24: 3.9%

    • Ages 25-29: 2.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 1.9%

  • Labor force participation rate

    • Ages 20-24: 83.0%

    • Ages 25-29: 92.8%

    • Ages 30-34: 90.9%

  • Median income

    • Ages 25 and under: $53,275.31

    • Ages 25-34: $98,344.01

  • Annual cost of living (excluding housing)

    • Ages 25 and under: $12,637.51

    • Ages 25-34: $18,983.55

More From GOBankingRates

Alexandria Bova contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates in order to find the 30 Best Cities for Young Professionals looked at 100 of the most populous cities in the United States as sourced from the 2021 American Community survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau. GOBankingRates then analyzed the cities using the following criteria: (1) percent of the population aged 20 through 34; (2) Unemployment Rate among 20 - 24 Year Olds; (3) Unemployment Rate among 25 - 29 Year Olds; (4) Unemployment Rate among 30 - 34 Year Olds; (5) Labor Force Participation Rate among 20-24 Year olds: (6) Labor Force Participation Rate among 25-29 Year olds; (7) Labor Force Participation Rate among 30-34 Year olds (%); (8) Median Income for Non-families Under 25; (9) Median Income for Non-Families 25 - 34 year olds, all sourced from the 2021 American Community survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau and factored out using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey; (10) average Annual 2022 Median Rent as sourced from Zillow, (11) annual cost of living expenditures excluding housing for those 25 and under; and (12) annual cost of living expenditures excluding housing for those 25 through 34, both based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey and local cost of living indices sourced from Sperling's Best Places. All factors were scored and then combined, with the lowest score being best, to determine the final rankings. Factors 8 and 9 were weighted 0.5 times. All data was collected and is up to date as of November 14, 2022.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 30 Best Cities for Young Professionals