As life adventures go, it’s hard to beat the magic of moving to an exciting new city.
If you have the urge to live the big city life, the most challenging part of your decision is likely to be choosing the ideal city to live in.
While obvious candidates like New York City, San Francisco, and London are always high on the list of best cities for young professionals, there are plenty of other options to consider. Other cities offer just as much fun, but without the sky-high living costs!
Ready to read our impressive list of exceptional cities for young professionals and recent graduates to move to? Keep reading below!
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Here are the best cities for young professionals and college graduates to live in:
1. Austin, USA
Population: 2.25 million
Median rental costs: $1174 per month (USD)
Median salary: $72,000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 41%
Austin TX has received a respectable number of accolades in recent years as one of the best cities to live in America.
Let’s start with a look at the glorious sunshine this Southern US city has to offer residents. Austin boasts of around 228 sunny days a year, giving plenty of opportunity for young adults who enjoy the outdoors.
Austin also ticks plenty of boxes when it comes to affordability. As rent costs rise for young professionals, finding a city that can offer quality housing that doesn’t stretch the budget is a must for many.
Austin is also one of the best cities for young people in terms of job prospects. With an excellent median salary compared to the national average, Austin offers plentiful career opportunities for all ages and career paths, especially in the tech industry.
The fast-growing high-tech cluster of Silicon Hills is a relatively new and exciting rival to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley. Now is the perfect time to become part of this vibrant city.
2. Seattle, USA
Population: 3.46 million
Median rental costs: $1866 per month (USD)
Median salary: $102500 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 39%
Seattle is affectionately known as the Emerald City. Coastal, but sitting adjacent to gorgeous dark green forests, Seattle also has environmental credentials to match the aesthetics.
Seattle’s unique and dynamic culture will leave you spoilt for choice regarding exciting things to do and see in this city.
Capitol Hill is a hip and popular residential area for young professionals with plenty of boutiques, cafes, and a buzzing art scene.
Seattle fares better than many cities regarding high salaries and job prospects, perfect for those young professionals with lofty career ambitions.
Of course, generous salaries come with a cost. Seattle is more expensive than other US cities for living costs. Expect to pay more for rental, especially if you want to live in one of the more fashionable districts.
3. Boston, USA
Population: 4.31 million
Median rental costs: $2115 per month (USD)
Median salary: $71,000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 44%
If you’re seeking an East Coast US city full of many young entrepreneurs and university graduates, why not start looking at what Boston has to offer? Rich in history and with world-leading health care, Boston is unlikely to fall off the radar soon when it comes to top places to live.
Tourists may know Boston for its famous walking tours, but did you know that the locals love walking the city as much as the visitors? With fascinating architecture and the gorgeous orange colors of fall, this Massachusetts city is beautiful on foot, and there are tons of amazing things to do in Boston.
If you are looking to take that first step in your career, Boston is the perfect choice for those in tech or legal fields, not to mention postgraduate opportunities at Boston’s prestigious educational institutes.
For the perfect cosmopolitan lifestyle, Boston offers a vast choice of department stores, fashionable boutiques, as well as cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the street on a warm summer’s day.
4. Perth, Australia
Population: 1.96 million
Median rental costs: $780 per month (USD)
Median salary: $86,000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 44%
The stunning coastline of Perth is hard to beat, so it’s no wonder young professionals have flocked to this city in the past decade or so.
Geographically, Perth is isolated from the other big Australian cities like Sydney and Brisbane. So living costs in Perth are lower than what you can expect on the east coast.
If your dream life involves spending most of your free time at the beach, the stunning white sands and turquoise waters of Perth won’t disappoint.
Perth is also popular with foodies. The many restaurants, cafes, and food markets offer weird and wonderful inventions for the adventurous diner.
Young professionals will love the vibe in Perth, which has a strong community sense for such a large city. Many expatriates live here, and the locals welcome new residents with open arms.
Related Read: 50+ Best Online College Jobs
5. Manchester, UK
Population: 2.7 million
Median rental costs: $1070 per month (USD)
Median salary: $44,000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 50%
With three large universities within the city center, Manchester has always had a big youthful vibe. It is unsurprising it features high up on the list of young professional cities.
As London house prices hit record highs, young professionals are looking for alternatives. Few offer as much culture and bustling nightlife as Manchester, which scores high on the best places to live for young adults.
For sports fans, Manchester has a famous soccer rivalry and plenty of opportunities to catch top sports events at the big sports stadiums that tower over the skyline.
Manchester has lower average salaries than other big cities. Still, career opportunities are plentiful, and the cost of living is far lower than similar cities of this size.
For those who want to step out of the city and explore nature, the ruggedly beautiful hills of the peak district are right on Manchester’s doorstep.
6. Montreal, Canada
Population: 4.2 million
Median rental costs: $1122 per month (USD)
Median salary: $52000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 36%
If you want a city with low rent, it’s worth noting that Montreal has one of the lowest rental costs of all the major Canadian cities.
Montreal offers the ideal setup for young professionals. The city has arts, culture, fashion, restaurants, and cafes, plenty for anyone seeking a busy metropolitan life.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur, this city offers an excellent setup for a new business. Commercial rent costs are lower than in other big cities.
If you want to get around in a city on bike, Montreal offers plenty of safe cycle lanes amongst the parks and streets.
7. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Population: 1.2 million
Median rental costs: $1924 per month (USD)
Median salary: $77000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 39%
Locals love Amsterdam for the small, easily accessible feel of the city. Most of it can be explored by foot or bike, and cycling is a big part of the lifestyle of Amsterdam.
As a major city within the EU, Amsterdam offers a vast range of well-paid job opportunities and careers, including government and banking. High levels of migration within the EU also give this city a multicultural feel.
Of course, a big pull for Amsterdam is the rich culture on your doorstep. Arts, museums, cafes, restaurants, concerts, and festivals mean you’ll never get bored in this city.
8. Berlin, Germany
Population: 3.7 million
Median rental costs: $1328 per month (USD)
Median salary: $63000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 32%
Berlin attracts many artists and young adults, so if you are looking for an alternative scene, this trendy city could be your perfect fit.
As one of the biggest cities in Europe, Berlin offers plenty of different neighborhoods to explore, each with its own unique vibe.
Though rental costs are relatively expensive than in many European cities, Berlin is surprisingly affordable when it comes to other living costs. As one of the European centers for commerce, there are plentiful job opportunities.
Berlin is hugely multicultural, and you’ll experience that cultural blend for yourself when trying out the many different types of cuisine in the fantastic restaurants this city has to offer.
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9. Auckland, New Zealand
Population: 1.5 million
Median rental costs: $1200 per month (USD)
Median salary: $48000 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 22%
Who can resist the breathtaking beauty of New Zealand? If you want to explore this picture-perfect country, Auckland is the ideal base for your new adventure and one of the best places to live for young adults.
Auckland is a safe and welcoming city, so it won’t take you long to feel at home. As the most prominent New Zealand city for commerce, Auckland offers many career opportunities to match your ambitions.
One of the main attractions for outsiders is New Zealand’s commitment to a balanced life. You can split your time between the glamour of this young city and the outdoor pursuits of the nearby countryside, lakes, and beaches.
10. Hanoi, Vietnam
Population: 6.5 million
Median rental costs: $336 per month (USD)
Median salary: $9,600 per year (USD)
% of the Population Under 30: 47%
With a fast-growing economy and the cost of living still dramatically below Western cities, Hanoi is one of the best cities for twenty-somethings who can work from anywhere.
The hot subtropical climate of Vietnam is a far cry from the milder temperatures of North America and Europe, and the dry season occurs between December and April.
Hanoi has a scenic feel, swapping the typical high rises of a Southern Asian city with beautiful, lush green lakes that offer perfect photo opportunities. And if you love to try exotic dishes, try out the delicious Vietnamese street food.
What is the Best City for Young Professionals?
We couldn’t possibly choose between these ten unique locations when it comes to the best cities for young professionals. And, that’s not to mention all the hundreds of other great places for millennials and young adults, like Washington DC/Arlington (Virginia), Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Columbus (Ohio), Des Moines, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore, and others. But you do have a vast and varied choice as a starting point to help you achieve that dream city lifestyle, whether for millennials or Gen Z.
If you want to thrive in your career in a big city, why not check out our career articles for tips and advice on how to take that next step towards your dream job?