Moving Your Life

Best Cities for Millennials in 2018

Every day, a new article seems to pop up, attempting to categorize millennials' career goals (or lack thereof), spending habits, life choices, and sentiments toward avocado toast. The truth of the matter is that millennials are one of the largest generations of all time, and you're an incredibly diverse bunch. Some millennials opt to take the traditional route of marrying and having kids, while others choose childfree, vagabond, or other unconventional lifestyles. Some of you crave walkability and nonstop action, while others gravitate toward easy living in the suburbs.

That inherent diversity makes it a fun challenge to determine where millennials will get the most out of life, and we took many factors into consideration when creating this list, including entertainment, job growth, affordability, diversity, outdoor activities, and the overall vibe of the area. Here are the best cities for millennials in 2018.

Chicago, IL

Downtown Chicago Skyline

Why millennials love it: Millennials love The Windy City, and with good reason. Chicago is notoriously welcoming to newcomers, and its cost of living is on the lower side—for a major metropolis, that is. Not only is this pedestrian-friendly, park-lined, and fitness-focused hotspot considered one of the greenest cities in the U.S., it's also been regaled for its craft beer scene, exceptional restaurants, and—you guessed it—awesome avocado toast. Whether you're moving to Chicago temporarily or planning to put down roots in one of Chicago's many family-friendly neighborhoods, if you're a millennial, this city is a top pick.

Food & Booze: When we said the avocado toast was awesome, we meant it. Left Coast makes one with orange essence that you've gotta try. As for the craft beer, Pub Royale has a great selection of Midwest brews and bar bites, too.

Stay busy: Head to Wateriders, where you can book a kayak tour along the Chicago River.

Austin, TX

Austin TX Lady Bird Lake

Why millennials love it: Austin has pretty much everything a millennial could want. Texas' capital city is considered both a great place to be single and to raise a family, plus its dining options, music scene, and overall laid-back vibe are legendary. Millennials tend to be open-minded and active, which makes this easygoing, outdoorsy city an excellent pick. It's no surprise that tech giants like Facebook, Dell, and Apple have offices in Austin and, while its cost of living has been steadily increasing, Austin is still more affordable than many other U.S. tech hubs.

Food & Booze: Fuel up for the day by ordering the Don Juan at Juan in a Million, then treat yourself to the unique Neapolitan pizzas at Bufalina Pizza—just be sure to save room for gin ice cream!

Stay busy: Jog or bike along Lady Bird Lake, then head north of Austin to Georgetown, where you can explore the underground Inner Space Cavern.

Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg PA River

Why millennials love it: Harrisburg often flies under the radar, but it's not just affordability that puts Pennsylvania's capital city on our list of best places for millennials to live. It's got short commute times and is teeming with full-time, entry-level job opportunities that are perfect for younger millennials. It's not all work and no play in Harrisburg, though—the city is also home to a surprisingly robust craft beer scene, plenty of outdoor activities, and is within easy reach of NYC and Philadelphia, both of which are serviced by high-speed trains. And if you're raising kids in Harrisburg, they'll be thrilled to have the famed Hershey Park right next door.

Food & Booze: Check out the flavorful and healthy vegetable board at Bricco, then grab a Cherishburg sour pale ale at Zeroday Brewing Company.

Stay busy: Visit Broad Street Market, one of the oldest year-round farmers markets in the country, then head to Millworks, a Midtown-based art, brewery, and food collective.

Miami, FL

Miami Beach

Why millennials love it: Miami is a powerhouse when it comes to international cuisine, outdoor activities, and never-ending nightlife. It has an amazing food scene, and as one of the most walkable cities in the U.S., you can restaurant and bar hop all day. Are you a proud dog parent? You'll be pleased to learn that Miami boasts tons of dog-friendly beaches, bars, and restaurants. While it isn't one of the most affordable cities on our list, Miami makes up for its price tag by offering countless ways to enjoy those sunshiny days—and an exponential cool factor.

Food & Booze: Cool off from the Miami heat by indulging in Azucar Ice Cream—try the bourbon and toffee-flavored Beam Me Up or the rose-flavored Zapaticos. Enjoy a sky-high avocado portion on your toast at Threefold Café.

Stay busy: Take advantage of Miami's primo beachside location by parasailing with Miami Water Sports, then cruise over to Gator Park, where you can snap pictures of alligators from atop an airboat speeding through the Florida Everglades.

Sioux Falls, SD

Sioux Falls, SD Falls Park

Why millennials love it: "Millennials don't buy houses" is a common refrain these days, but not in Sioux Falls. Millennial homeownership is on the rise in this unassuming city, thanks to an impressively low unemployment rate and housing prices that won't eat up all your salary (looking at you, New York). Sioux Falls is attractive for budget-minded families and singles alike, but affordability is only part of the equation—luckily, Sioux Falls also has plenty of delicious food, craft breweries, and outdoor activities to keep you busy and enjoying life, not to mention a water park to keep the kids cool during summer months.

Food & Booze: Indulge your sweet tooth at CH Patisserie and check out the sticky noodle salad at local legend Phillips Avenue Diner. Expand your palate at Phnom Penh Restaurant, which fuses Indian and Southeast Asian flavors.

Stay busy: Explore SculptureWalk and the rest of Phillips Avenue downtown, then stroll over to the beautiful Falls Park, which spans the Big Sioux River.

Denver, CO

Denver CO 16th Street Mall

Why millennials love it: This is an easy one—Denver is one of the most active and green cities in the nation, and don't even get us started on the food and beer scenes. Neighborhoods like LoDo and Capitol Hill are super walkable, so you don't have to worry about finding a ride to all those breweries. As for food, Rocky Mountain oysters (Google it) aren't your only choice. You'll find everything from Mexican to farmers markets. On top of all that tasty food and craft beer, outdoor activities reign supreme in Denver; it boasts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in America right in its backyard.

Food & Booze: Try the miso black cod at TAG restaurant, then head over to Strange Craft brewing and sip some Dr. Strangelove barleywine.

Stay busy: Explore the famous botanic gardens—or the art and science museums if the weather is chilly—then enjoy browsing Fifty-Two 80s, an awesome retro shop oozing with nostalgic charm.

Davenport, IA

Davenport IA Centennial Bridge

Why millennials love it: What is it about the Midwest that makes it so great for millennials? We can think of a few things: friendly neighbors, outdoor spaces, and low cost of living coupled with a high quality of life, for starters. With a median income of nearly $80,000 and a median home price of $125,000, Davenport has some of the most affordable housing in the country. Companies like Prag'madik are bringing the region's manufacturing industry into the future, and the financial services sector is also growing steadily. Its riverfront location is perfect for active living, and the local breweries, cafes, and music festivals give you plenty of opportunities to re-invest all that disposable income.

Food & Booze: Dig into a don po rou rice bowl at Lemongrass Café, then head to Front Street Brewery for an array of locally brewed beers. Analog Arcade Bar is a great way to get a dose of nostalgia while you imbibe.

Stay busy: Take a leisurely stroll through Vander Veer Botanical Park and Conservatory, or take the kids to Skate City QCA for some roller skating or laser tag.

Minneapolis, MN

Big Spoon at Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis MN

Why millennials love it: Minneapolis gets high marks in just about every one of our categories: It's a ridiculously fit, environmentally friendly, affordable, and walkable place. The city's been rolling back beer laws since 2011, allowing the craft beer scene to thrive, and its pedestrian-friendly layout makes it easy to walk off those calories. Need a job? No problem. Science and tech are booming in Minneapolis, as well as the health care and insurance industries. Thinking about family? Low crime, great schools, and loads of museums put the Twin Cities at the top of that list, too. Trust us—there's lots to love about Minneapolis.

Food & Booze: Start the day with lime and radish-topped avocado toast at Birchwood Cafe, then meet up with your friendly new neighbors for a savory tagine at Moroccan Flavors.

Stay busy: Stay fit despite gorging yourself on delicious Minneapolis foods by joining The Movement, where small wins are celebrated and camaraderie is encouraged.

Columbus, OH
Downtown Columbus OH

Why millennials love it: Ohio's state capital is known for its affordability, job opportunities, burgeoning food and beer scene, and generally being a friendly, all-American sort of place. You'll find everything you love about the big city—museums and parks, all sorts of food (even vegan!), and culture galore—with all the comforts and convenience of a smaller city. In fact, Columbus' nickname is the Biggest Small Town in America! Feeling entrepreneurial? The Kauffman Foundation ranked it #1 for growing a business from the ground up. If you're looking for big-city vibes without the attitude, you've found your match.

Food & Booze: Start your day with s'mores French toast at Wolf's Ridge Brewing before you hit up their tap room to sample their award-winning coffee and beer. Don't miss the always-changing chef's tasting menu at Barcelona Restaurant and Bar.

Stay busy: Stroll through the Short North Arts District and shop your way through German Village, then treat yourself to a Broadway in Columbus show at the Ohio Theater.

Provo, UT

Provo UT BYU Cougar Sculpture

Why millennials love it: First of all, Provo is affordable and touts reasonable housing prices and brisk job growth. Unemployment is low and residents are happy, maybe because world-class skiing and unmatched scenery are literally in Provo's backyard. Its college-town feel and startup-influenced culture—Adobe is located in nearby Lehi and eBay has an office in adjacent Draper—have drawn quite a few trendy under-30s to the area but, unlike other tech hubs, home prices remain low. Now is the time for savvy millennials to get to this Shangri-La before the secret is truly out in the open.

Food & booze: Warm up after hitting the nearby slopes with a bowl of coconut squash soup at Gurus and don't miss the delicious flavors of the Dominican Republic at El Tropical Restaurant.

Stay busy: Explore Provo Canyon by zip-line with Provo Canyon Adventures, then enjoy some good, clean laughs at Dry Bar Comedy.

Kansas City, MO

Kansas City MO Street Art

Why millennials love it: With triple-digit job growth in the tech sector and big employers like Sprint and Garmin calling it home, Kansas City is attracting upwardly mobile millennials in droves. You may just think "barbecue and baseball" when you think of this midwestern spot, but KC's got a lot more going on these days. It's making serious waves in the foodie scene, from fine dining to "meat-and-three" with a modern twist. It's clean, affordable, and beautiful. In fact, KC is known for its fountains, which is appropriate, as it provides an endless spring of opportunity for ambitious millennials looking for a place to call home.

Food & booze: Don't miss the smoked duck empanadas at Story KC, and indulge in the decadent double-decker grilled cheese at BRGR Kitchen.

Stay busy: Get your arts fix at the Crossroads Arts District, where you'll find an eclectic hodgepodge of galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Book nerds will love the Kansas City Public Library—but not just for the books. The façade is made to look like a giant bookshelf, and it'll look great on your Instagram.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh PA Randyland Art

Why millennials love it: Pittsburgh is having more than a moment . . . some might prefer to call it a comeback. For one, the ‘Burgh is a great drinking city, with the 4th highest bar density in the nation, so you won't need to look far to find a quality craft beer or cocktail. You won't mind going to work the next day, either: Pittsburgh has great job opportunities, with a hot startup sector and thriving renewable energy industry. Home prices are affordable, leaving you with plenty of disposable income for all that drinking. Plus, Pittsburgh came in #25 on WalletHub's ranking of active cities—not too shabby for a place that used to be known as "Smoky City."

Food & booze: Feline-loving millennials must visit Colony Café, where adoptable cats mingle freely as their future owners—make that minions—sip coffee. Don't miss the black forest cheesecake at Proper Pittsburgh, nor the gnocchi at DiAnoia's.

Stay busy: Stop by the Smallman Galley, a launch pad for new restaurant concepts, and be sure to stroll through Randyland, a Pittsburgh neighborhood that's been transformed into a psychedelic dreamland of recycled art.

Sandy Springs, GA

Sandy Springs GA

Why millennials love it: You may have heard that millennials are flocking to big cities, but there are plenty of reasons they should head to Sandy Springs instead. Located just outside of Atlanta, Sandy Springs is one of the top cities for millennials—it's perfectly positioned to enjoy the easy living and open spaces of a small city, with all the offerings of a large metropolis just minutes away. Sandy Springs has everything a millennial could want: short commute times, outdoor activities, diversity, and nightlife, not to mention bonus points for being super pet-friendly, with 22 restaurants where Fido is welcome. Hey, with three-quarters of 30-somethings owning dogs, we'd say that's pretty important.

Food & booze: Nosh on the koresh karafs at Zafron and splurge on a combination cured meat and cheese board at Under the Cork Tree.

Stay busy: Opt outdoors at Morgan Falls Overland Park, where you can go fishing or hiking, or find your inner Zen at the transcendental meditation center. Challenge your mind at Mastermind Escape Games.

Nashville, TN

Downtown Nashville TN City Skyline

Why millennials love it: You don't have to be an aspiring country star to love Nashville's career opportunities—you'll find a variety of open jobs here, especially in the health sector. There are plenty of venues that host all different genres of music, and Nashville's food scene is no slump, either. From hot chicken to fried pickles, you definitely won't be left hungry. What's more, this southern city has become a legit hockey town, with fans throwing catfish on the ice for good luck. Yes, Nashville has quite a few surprises up its sleeve for those willing to make the move.

Food & booze: Sample an impressive array of tequilas at Rosepepper Cantina and don't miss Nashville soul food at Hattie B's.

Stay busy: Spend some time at Acme Feed & Seed , a modern-day honky-tonk with live music, casual fare, communal seating, and beers a-plenty. Be sure to check out Pinewood Social, where you can bowl, swim, imbibe, and nosh under the same roof.

Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis IN Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Why millennials love it: As we've all heard, millennials are known for their love of craft beer, nostalgia, brunch, and the outdoors—and, of course, selfies. Luckily, Indianapolis has plenty of fodder to please even the pickiest millennial in all said capacities, plus, Indy's one of the best cities in the U.S. for job opportunities and affordability. Long known for the Indianapolis 500, the city has only recently drawn attention for its up-and-coming foodie scene, which boasts international, vegan, gluten-free, and upscale fare that rivals even the most cosmopolitan of cities.

Food & booze: Grab a Buddha bowl—vegan and omnivore options are available—at Rooster's Kitchen Indy or head to The Spice Box for tandoori tacos.

Stay busy: Treat yourself to some nostalgia by visiting Roller Cave and Tappers Arcade Bar. Take your love of Indy to new heights at Hoosier Heights Indianapolis, where you'll find climbing and yoga under one roof.

If there's one thing that is true about millennials, it's that you want it all. You don't want to compromise when it comes to finding your dream city—and you're willing to throw all your belongings into storage and search far and wide until you find that perfect place to settle down. Luckily, your efforts will pay off—you can have amazing job prospects, awesome food and beer scenes, and all the activities you can pack into your schedule—just look through our list of best places to live for millennials, and we're sure you'll find one that fits you perfectly.

About the author

Meredith Castin

Meredith is a physical therapist turned writer who enjoys traveling to as many new cities as possible, primarily so she can discover new food to write about. When she isn't eating, you'll find her rock climbing, snowboarding, recording music, and spending time with her husband and three cats.

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