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Best Cities for Young Professionals in 2021

Thinking about moving to a new city in 2021? Whether you’re looking for a place that offers affordable living, employment opportunities, fun things to do, or all of the above, these 11 best cities for young professionals have everything you could want and are worth checking out!

  • Arlington, VA
  • Austin, TX
  • Columbus, OH
  • Denver, CO
  • Durham, NC
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Nashville, TN
  • Omaha, NE
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Seattle, WA

Arlington, VA

Skyline of Arlington, VA at Golden Hour. Photo by Instagram user @menace703

Photo via @menace703

  • Population: 226,092
  • Home Price: $623,300 median purchase price; $1,861 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $108,706
  • Median Age: 34.1
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.6%

While the cost of living and housing prices may be a bit higher in Arlington, it’s easy to understand why when you factor in all of the advantages that come with living in this Virginia city! Not only is Arlington a suburb of Washington, DC—which means there are tons of job opportunities close by—but the city also has a very low unemployment rate and a median household income well above the national average. Plus, Arlington is home to an expanding number of trendy bars, restaurants, and coffee shops that give this quaint city a vibrant edge. While living in Arlington, you can hike the Mount Vernon Trail to get breathtaking views of the nation’s capital, see award-winning musicals and comedy acts at Signature Theatre, and explore more than 160 retailers at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Austin, TX

Downtown Austin Skyline with View of the River. Photo by Instagram user @johnnyronca

Photo via @johnnyronca

  • Population: 907,779
  • Home Price: $257,800 median purchase price; $1,106 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $60,939
  • Median Age: 32.4
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.6%

Austin is among the fastest-growing U.S. cities, most fun cities in America, and best U.S. cities for finding a job, making it the perfect place for young professionals to find a balance of work and play! This major tech hub is a great place for entrepreneurs to launch startups and has the benefit of being in a state with no income taxes. On top of that, Austin offers some of the best nightlife in the country, from the cocktail lounges and cowboy bars on 6th Street to the music venues that make Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. Texas’ capital city is also home to the world-famous SXSW Conference, has some of the nation’s best BBQ, and offers hiking opportunities at outdoor spots like Mt. Bonnell and Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

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Columbus, OH

  • Population: 837,038
  • Home Price: $131,800 median purchase price; $856 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $47,156
  • Median Age: 32.1
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.8%

If you’re searching for an affordable city where you can enjoy your young adult years and start your career with a top company, give Columbus a look! With a cost of living 10% lower than the national average and reasonable home prices, Columbus is one of the most affordable cities in America. It’s also home to five Fortune 500 Companies—headlined by Nationwide and L Brands—so it’s a fantastic place to find a new job and develop your career. Plus, when you live in Columbus, you can take advantage of the city’s 400 parks, shop at Easton Town Center, admire the contemporary works at the Wexner Center for the Arts, and sample unique craft beers as you make your way through the list of breweries on the Columbus Ale Trail.

Denver, CO

View of Downtown Denver, CO Skyline with Rocky Mountains in the Background. Photo by Instagram user @agellerphoto

Photo via @agellerphoto

  • Population: 663,303
  • Home Price: $292,700 median purchase price; $1,035 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $56,258
  • Median Age: 34.2
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%

For several years now, Colorado’s capital city has been named among the best cities for young professionals, and for good reason! Denver is a top city for job seekers, as it boasts a low unemployment rate and hosts the headquarters of major companies like RE/MAX and Dish Network—not to mention, it’s close to the Coors headquarters in nearby Golden. But work isn’t all that has young adults moving to Denver. Between skiing, mountain climbing, and hiking, the city offers opportunities to stay active year-round, which is why it’s one of the best cities for outdoor recreation. Moving to Denver also puts you in the heart of one of America’s best beer cities, so you can spend your weekends exploring breweries like Great Divide Brewing Company and Denver Beer Co., as well as attend the annual Great American Beer Festival.

Durham, NC

Skyline of Downtown Durham, NC During the Day. Photo by Instagram user @wralsarah

Photo via @wralsarah

  • Population: 251,761
  • Home Price: $183,900 median purchase price; $913 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $52,115
  • Median Age: 33.3
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.5%

Known as the City of Medicine, Durham is an excellent destination for those looking for a career in medical services. The city has more than 300 medical and health-related companies and medical practices, including nationally-renowned Duke University Medical Center. Durham is also home to Research Triangle Park, one of the most prominent high-tech and research development parks in the nation, so there are plenty of jobs in non-medical fields, too. Along with these employment opportunities, Durham offers affordable home costs and access to a growing nightlife scene. Locals can enjoy hip restaurants, breweries, and outdoor concerts at Brightleaf Square, as well as the open-mic nights, dance parties, and indie band concerts at The Pinhook.

Minneapolis, MN

View of Downtown Minneapolis Looking at the Hennepin Ave Bridge. Photo by Instagram user @loganfalzone

Photo via @loganfalzone

  • Population: 404,670
  • Home Price: $212,800 median purchase price; $898 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $52,611
  • Median Age: 31.9
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.1%

What makes Minneapolis one of the best places for young adults? As the headquarters for major corporations like Target, US Bank, and Ameriprise Financial, it’s easy to find a job here—and your hard-earned dollars stretch further here, as Minneapolis is one of America’s most affordable cities. Minnesota’s largest city is also one of the healthiest cities in the U.S., thanks to its abundance of parks and outdoor activities. In addition, living in Minneapolis gives you access to a thriving live music scene and incredible pro sports teams like the Minnesota Vikings (NFL), Minnesota Twins (MLB), and Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA). All this and more come together to make Minneapolis one of the best big cities in America!

Nashville, TN

Downtown Nashville, TN Skyline Along the Cumberland River. Photo by Instagram user @dave.m_g

Photo via @dave.m_g

  • Population: 643,771
  • Home Price: $174,600 median purchase price; $902 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $49,981
  • Median Age: 34
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3%

Nashville is one of the best cities for young adults looking to have a good time. With concert halls like Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry, in addition to hundreds of intimate live music venues throughout the city, Nashville has certainly earned its nickname, “The Music City.” But live music isn’t all that makes Nashville one of the most fun places to live in the U.S. Young professionals are also drawn to the city’s bustling nightlife scene, especially along Lower Broadway. Beyond the glitz and glam of Nashville’s entertainment, you’ll find affordable housing, a growing tech industry, and tons of job opportunities!

Omaha, NE

View of Downtown Omaha, Including the FNBO Building and the WoodmenLife Tower. Photo by Instagram user @_bshep

Photo via @_bshep

  • Population: 443,072
  • Home Price: $139,800 median purchase price; $819 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $50,827
  • Median Age: 34.2
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%

Want to find a good city to live, work, and play? Omaha may be the place for you! With low costs of living and housing, Omaha is one of the most affordable U.S. cities to live in. There are plenty of job opportunities with established companies like Mutual of Omaha and Union Pacific, and new startups continue to emerge in one of America’s fastest-growing tech hubs. Plus, if you’re looking to settle down, this recession-proof city is one of the best places in the country to raise a family. You can also find plentiful activities in Nebraska’s largest city, including seeing top performers like Blake Shelton and The Lumineers at the CHI Health Center, cheering on the best teams in college baseball during the College World Series, or dining out in The Old Market.

Pittsburgh, PA

View of Pittsburgh, PA Skyline Looking Across the Allegheny River. Photo by Instagram user @berksbr

Photo via @berksbr

  • Population: 305,305
  • Home Price: $100,800 median purchase price; $844 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $42,450
  • Median Age: 32.9
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.8%

If you’re a young professional seeking career opportunities, Pittsburgh could be one of your best options! With major employers like PNC Financial Services, PPG Industries, and Alcoa, it’s one of the best U.S. cities for jobs. The Steel City also has a cost of living that’s well below the national average, as are its median home prices and rent rates. And if you want to further your education, you’ll have lots of options in Pittsburgh, including University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duquesne University. When you’re ready for some fun, you can check out watering holes in one of America’s best bar-hopping cities, including great options in the famous Strip District, or you can gather with friends in massive Frick Park.

Salt Lake City, UT

  • Population: 191,446
  • Home Price: $248,700 median purchase price; $844 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $50,353
  • Median Age: 31.8
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.9%

Few places are better in America for a young person to launch their career than Salt Lake City. SLC is one of America’s top destinations for new graduates—and thanks to major employers like Energy Solutions, Sinclair Oil Corporation, and the rising tech companies within Silicon Slopes, it’s one of the best places in the country to start a career. When you’re not working, there are tons of fun things to do in Salt Lake City! With all kinds of opportunities to ski, hike, bike, jog, and more, it’s one of the best U.S. cities for outdoor enthusiasts and is among the country’s healthiest cities. Living in Salt Lake City also means you’re close to the famous Sundance Film Festival and can explore the city’s namesake, Great Salt Lake.

Seattle, WA

  • Population: 668,849
  • Home Price: $484,600 median purchase price; $1,266 median monthly rent
  • Median Household Income: $74,458
  • Median Age: 35.8
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.7%

Seattle is still experiencing tremendous growth year after year. Thanks to its low unemployment rate and the presence of tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, it’s recognized as one of the best cities for young professionals to live and work. The Emerald City offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like kayaking at Discovery Park or hiking up scenic Mount Rainier. Seattle residents can also peruse the goods from over 500 vendors at Pike Place Market, catch interesting movies and documentaries at the annual Seattle International Film Festival, and rock out to show-stopping musical performances at The Showbox. Best yet, you’ll never be without a cup of joe in Seattle. Not only is it the birthplace of Starbucks, but it’s also one of the best cities for coffee lovers!

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