Best Cities for Young Professionals in 2021

Discover why Tallahassee is one of the best Florida cities to live in

Whether you’re just graduating, looking to start your career, or simply ready for a new adventure after the pandemic, there are plenty of reasons to move to a new city. Your perfect city might have endless entertainment, local restaurants to rave about or even outdoor adventures. Every location has a trade-off, but what makes a city perfect can depend on your career and your life goals. Big cities often come with bigger paychecks, but a higher cost of living. Smaller cities may offer fewer entertainment options, but may save you money and give you a shorter commute. We’ve scoured the internet, referring to data and reports by US News, Smart Asset, Nerd Wallet & more to compile a list of the Best Cities for Young Professionals that includes everything from the Big Apple to lesser known, smaller cities like Tallahassee, Florida. Whether you’re looking for a capital city, a quaint city, or a city on the rise, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best cities for young professionals to live in:

Big Cities

New York  

New York City Skyline

It’s no secret that living in the Big Apple has its perks, or at least the 8.5 million Americans who live in the city think so. With its rich history, diversity, and a lively social scene you never know what you’ll stumble upon. 

New York City is almost 400 years old, making it one of the oldest cities in America. The city boasts notable landmarks, museums, and buildings, even some you might recognize from your favorite TV shows or movies. It’s not uncommon to run into celebrities along the streets of NYC, but you’re also likely to run into your next networking connection. 

The saying “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” has proven to be true for many young entrepreneurs. New York City is the corporate home to many big name companies in tech, marketing, journalism, sports, and fashion. So every rooftop party, late night subway ride, or art exhibit opening could be where you meet your next important connection. But you don’t just need networking connections, NYC is the most populated city in America so it’s important to find groups and smaller networks to make the city feel like home. Whether you’re interested in joining an artist’s league, a running group, a community co-op or something more niche you can definitely find your crowd. 

Big city living also requires a bigger paycheck, rent in NYC can average anywhere from $1700 to $3000 for a studio apartment. However, if you’re willing to live further away from the heart of the city you can find more affordable housing. It’s very common to live with roommates in New York as a way to bring your rent prices down. The further away you live from the city, the longer your commute may be, but the public transportation in New York will get you wherever you need to go. You can take a train, subway, cab, bike rental, and more to get to your destination. Keep in mind that the taxes in the state of New York are higher than most states, so being mindful of your money will be crucial. The average salary for New York City residents is just north of $40,000 a year before taxes per individual.

If you’re ready to make the move to one of the best big cities for young professionals, find more resources here: https://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/programs.page

Los Angeles 

Los Angeles isn’t just a city full of Hollywood Hopefuls. With sports teams, plenty of sunshine,  beaches, and more, the city is full of characters and character. Among the over 4 million residents, Los Angeles is a hub for culture, nature, and socializing. Over 185 languages are spoken in LA, so you may want to redownload your Babbel app. This cultural diversity also extends to local restaurants and businesses. Don’t forget about the restaurants on wheels; food trucks are very popular in LA and can be some of the best food you’ll find in the city. 

The city has a lot to offer, including its proximity to beaches, hiking trails, and outdoor adventures. Los Angeles residents have created a culture of healthy living which extends well beyond the city limits. While you may want to spend extra time in the great outdoors, it’s also important to remember that you’ll need great indoor space as well. Rent in LA can get pricey fast, with or without roommates. The average salary for an individual in LA is $64,000 a year before taxes. LA is definitely a commuter city, so you’ll be spending a decent amount of time in rush hour traffic that their interstates are famous for. The trade-off being, the further out from the city you live, the more space and savings you’ll have.

If you’re ready to make the move, find more resources here: https://la.curbed.com/2018/6/21/17456050/guide-la-tips-moving-renting-homes

Austin

There’s no surprise why Austin Texas is the most populated capital city on our list with just over 950,000 residents. The amenities and affordability the city has to offer are undeniable. With the average individual making only $32,000 a year before taxes, Austin may be a perfect option for anyone with a limited budget. Compared to other large cities, housing in Austin is more affordable and abundant, making living in the heart of the city a no-brainer. 

Austin is considered one of the musical festival capitals of the world, with hundreds of live music events each year. Before you catch your first concert you’ll have to eat at one of the local foodie favorite restaurants or grab a drink at one of the many breweries or wineries. It’s true what they say, “everything’s bigger in Texas,” including the food and beverage industry!

When you’re ready to switch out your cowboy boots for hiking boots, there are plenty of natural wonders for outdoor adventures just outside the city. Swimming holes, secret waterfalls, hiking and biking trails are all available within a short drive.

If you’re ready to make the move to one of the best big cities for young professionals, find more resources here: https://www.austinlocal.com/

San Francisco 

With over 800,000 residents, San Francisco is the second most populous capital city on our list. If you’re looking for a city with California coastlines and wonderful weather that gets you away from the Hollywood Hullabaloo, you’re in the right place. As a capital city, you’ll have access to historic landmarks, including the notable Golden Gate Bridge, which you’ll need if you plan on commuting into the city! 

According to a 2019 Flight Work ranking, San Francisco is one of the top 10 most beautiful cities in the world. With historic cable cars, Victorian buildings and a light fog to set the scene, San Francisco is perfectly picturesque, but it comes with a price tag. The average individual makes at least $58,000 a year before taxes in the area. 

If you can afford it, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to spend the day in the city roaming the crooked streets, enjoying local cuisine, or heading to one of the many nearby national parks. If you’re looking for great local eats, San Franciscans claim that they serve the best Chinese food you’ll find in the states, since the city has the oldest Chinatown in North America – it’s hard to argue with that logic.

San Francisco is also known for fostering a sense of community for LGBTQIA+ members and allies dating back to the 1960s. There are non-profits organizations, clubs, and resources for members to connect and express themselves within the city even to this day. But you can also find a number of art clubs, running groups, and entertainment events to foster your own sense of community.

If you’re ready to make the move, find more resources here: https://sf.curbed.com/2019/9/26/20838456/sf-moving-tips-renting-buying-homes-neighborhood

Mid-size Cities

Seattle 

Seattle Skyline

If you’re looking to escape the oppressive heat, Seattle may be the capital city for you. With moderate temperatures, it doesn’t get too cold or too hot in Seattle and you’ll enjoy an average of 201 overcast days each year (perfect for outdoor activities)! Sound like a dream? Well the just over 724,000 residents of Seattle sure think so. 

There’s no denying the vibrant, green and natural landscape of Washington. Even in the city of Seattle, you can see mountains in the skyline’s distance. If you’re looking for waterfalls, hiking, and lakes you won’t have to venture far to find it. But if you’re looking for big city entertainment, they’ve got that too. 

Fresh seafood is just one of the stables of local cuisine. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars with unique cuisine and themes resident’s just can’t get enough of. Residents also can’t get enough of their pets. Seattle is a city for dog lovers, and there are many businesses and restaurants that can accommodate your furry friends as well.

If you’re ready for live music Seattle won’t let you down, as it’s one of the main touring locations in the Pacific Northwest. Much like the weather in Seattle, the price of living is pretty moderate. On average, individuals living in Seattle make just over $40,000 a year. Which means you can splurge on those next concert tickets.

If you’re ready to make the move to one of the best cities for young professionals, find more resources here: https://www.seattlecu.com/blog/an-insiders-guide-to-moving-to-seattle

Washington D.C. 

Washington D.C. Skyline

If you’re looking for a city full of history, politics, and architecture, D.C. may be the city for you.  There are over 70 unique museums in D.C. many of which are free to the public. There’s also libraries, archives, and national monuments scattered throughout the city. With easy access to public transportation, many of the 700,000 residents choose a car-free lifestyle. The metro, city bikes, extensive walkways, and taxis can get you anywhere you need to go. 

D.C. is a prime location for those who like to experience all of the seasons. Hot summers and chilly winters are in store for new residents in the area. So make sure you’re ready to bundle up or strip down to the basics. The city is also just a few hours away from beaches and mountains, so planning your weekend getaway has options.

Much like New York City, networking is key to success in D.C. Sometimes networking may feel like a sport, but D.C. already has those covered with major sporting events happening year round, D.C. has a team for just about everything. 

While rent can be steep the closer to the heart of the city you live, living with roommates helps bring the cost of living down. On average, individuals living in D.C. make $42,000 a year before taxes. 

If you’re ready to make the move, find more resources here: https://www.newhomesource.com/learn/dc-relocation-guide/

Denver 

Denver Skyline

If you’re looking for a capital city with a booming job market and a breathtaking natural landscape, Denver might be the city for you. With just over 700,000 residents and growing sectors of aerospace, defense, biotech, healthcare, finance, and hospitality, young professionals are constantly flocking to the city. 

While downtown Denver has plenty of local restaurants, mega and microbreweries, the real attractions are the nature surrounding the city. There’s plenty of hiking trails, lakes, and rivers, but also unique excursions like whitewater rafting, ziplining, and hot springs. But you don’t have to go adventuring alone, there are a variety of different local hiking groups on Facebook that are always looking for new members. 

While Denver is growing, it’s still relatively affordable compared to larger cities on our list. The average individual makes just over $36,000 a year before taxes in the area. 

If you’re ready to make the move to one of the best cities for young professionals, find more resources here: https://www.getbellhops.com/moving-to/denver-colorado/

Boston 

Boston Skyline

With historic landmarks and impressive architecture, it’s safe to say that Boston is known for more than its baked beans. As a capital city there are just under 700,000 residents and rising now. With its historical significance, red brick buildings, and hints of classic architecture Boston is often compared to European cities. 

If you’re a sports fan, Boston is not a city that will disappoint you. With five major sports teams, and college sports, there is always a sporting event for you to watch. Bostonians are known to be passionate about their teams though, so if your sports allegiances lie outside of the area, maybe keep the midnight blue and white gear at home. 

Driving in Boston can be difficult as roadways are crowded and often confusing for new drivers. Parking can be even more difficult as many residents opt to pay for reserved spots. But this can be pricey and not always effective. The average individual makes just over $42,000 a year before taxes in the area and a parking space can cost anywhere from $200 – $500 a month depending on where it is. However, if you prefer to try public transportation in the city, there are ample options including water taxi, subway, commuter bus, and ferries.

If you’re ready to make the move, find more resources here: https://www.boston.gov/moving

Atlanta 

Atlanta Skyline

If you’re looking for southern charm and a variety of industry opportunities, Georgia might be the capital city for you. Atlanta is a known hub for the entertainment, Hip Hop, TV and movie production industries along with many company corporate offices. It is also booming with events and entertainment. Whether you’re looking to see your favorite musician or comedian on tour or you’re ready to catch a big sporting event, Atlanta sees it all and the nightlife is as impressive as it is extensive. 

But you don’t have to spend all your time indoors, Atlanta has plenty of outdoor activities and nature opportunities just a short drive away. Hiking, waterfalls, and ziplining adventures can be your regular weekend getaways.

In comparison to other cities on this list, Atlanta’s rent prices are on the lower end, starting around $1200 a month for big city living. With just under 500,000 residents there are plenty of housing options available, including finding roommates. Keep in mind that the further out from the city you live, the longer you’ll be spending commuting in traffic daily. Most people who live in and around Atlanta own a car, which means those highways fill up quickly. On average individuals living in Atlanta make $35,000 a year before taxes. 

If you’re ready to make the move to one of the best cities for young professionals, find more resources here: https://www.getbellhops.com/moving-to/atlanta-georgia/

Small Cities

Chattanooga 

Chattanooga Skyline

Chattanooga, Tennessee has been on the rise for the last two decades. Once referred to as the “armpit of the south” Chattanooga now has a lively nightlife, dining, music, and art scene that has put that nickname to bed. Whether you’re looking to grab dinner and drinks before heading to a local concert or you’re ready for a night on the town dancing, Chattanooga has the venues for you.

With less than 200,000 residents in the city, jobs are on the rise in industries like tech, healthcare, finance, and manufacturing. If you’re in an in-demand industry make sure to negotiate your new salary, since the average salary for individuals before taxes is less than $27,000 a year. With affordable housing and lower living costs it’s no wonder why the city has seen a growth in popularity.

While the downtown area has a lot to offer, there is plenty of natural beauty right outside the city. There are mountains, rivers, forests, waterfalls and more just waiting to be discovered. So there is no need to worry about missing nature while living in the city, you can still see the mountains in the skyline!

If you’re ready to make the move, find more resources here: https://www.getbellhops.com/moving-to/chattanooga-tennessee/

Tallahassee 

Discover why Tallahassee is one of the best Florida cities to live in

In addition to a thriving job market, affordable housing, a low cost of living, easy access to popular cities, and a wide variety of things to do, Tallahassee offers its residents a true sense of community. With less than 200,000 residents this capital city has a lot to offer, including space and southern charm. 

In recent years, the downtown district has exploded with businesses, restaurants, bars and hotels, but don’t count out the midtown area, which also provides residents with local cuisine favorites, historic and modern housing, and mature landscaping. Canopy covered roads and well maintained parks are just a short drive in any direction. There are plenty of local hiking and biking trails along with nearby beaches. And don’t worry about booking your next trip, Tallahassee is close to several interstates and has an international airport. The money you save from living in the city could fund your next vacation! 

Making connections  in a new city can be hard, but with the number of organizations Tallahassee has to offer it’s easy to get involved. There are organizations specifically for young professionals to network and volunteer together. The average income for individuals before taxes is approximately $29,000 a year, and some of the city’s largest sectors include government, healthcare and higher education; although there’s a growing tech and startup scene in the city as well. 

There are also plenty of groups for people who are looking to try out a new or favorite hobby. If you’re looking for sports leagues, art classes, foodie groups, or more Tallahassee has you covered. 

If you’re ready to make the move to one of the best small cities for young professionals, find more resources here: https://choosetallahassee.com/young-professionals/

St. Louis

St. Louis Skyline

With just over 300,000 residents, St. Louis is one of the smallest cities on our list, but that doesn’t mean it’s without charm. St. Louis has a growing waterfront, several museums, and a lower cost of living. Residents in the city make an average of $29,000 a year before taxes, which also translates to a low cost of living. 

But that isn’t the only pull St. Louis has to offer. There is a great art and culture scene in the city, with constantly changing museums and galleries. There are two major league sports teams if you’re looking for baseball or hockey games and several minor league teams. There are also plenty of parks and natural resources if you’re ready to enjoy the weather before the summer heat kicks in. 

You’ll also get to keep your car in the city since the public transportation system isn’t widely used. With only two subway lines, you’ll most likely be sticking to the roadways. Affordable housing makes it easier to live in the city, so you’re not looking at a large commute either.

If you’re ready to make the move, find more resources here: https://www.everlyontheloop.com/st-louis-relocation-guide/

Choosing the Perfect City

While we’re partial to Tallahassee, no matter where you decide to move, you can’t go wrong with any location on this list. Weighing the pros and cons may be difficult, but visiting your top cities before a big move can help you determine where you’ll be happiest in the long run. If moving to a big city is still daunting for you, remember that making a big city smaller is possible! Finding local groups and organizations that align with your interests can make you meaningful connections whether they’re professional or personal. There are also plenty of Facebook groups in every city started by locals who are looking to meet new people or share local hot spots. 

If you’re ready to discover why other young professionals choose Tallahassee, read more here: https://choosetallahassee.com/young-professionals