The Best Cities for Young Professionals to Make a Living
Young professionals (age 18-34, roughly) are in an ideal position. With fresh skillsets and fewer ties to any single location than their older counterparts, younger job seekers have tons of flexibility in where they live and where they work.
With that in mind, it seemed appropriate to discuss which U.S. cities offered the best opportunities for younger professionals across annual salaries, unemployment rates, home pricing, and overall economic growth.
San Jose, California
- Average Annual Salary: $77,180
- Median Age: 8
- Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
- Median Home Price: $932,108
What makes San Jose so desirable is the access to opportunity it provides. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, plenty of tech giants like Cisco, IBM, and eBay make their home in the region. And while San Jose’s housing prices may give you pause, the region’s high salary rates offset some of the burden.
- Average Annual Salary: $53,600
- Median Age: 4
- Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
- Median Home Price: $167,300
Huntsville makes this list for two reasons: It’s one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the state, and housing costs in metro areas are lower than the national average. This means that recent grads can enjoy a relatively low cost of living while still enjoying the benefits of its booming economic growth.
- Average Annual Salary: $57,400
- Median Age: 3
- Unemployment Rate: 3.0%
- Median Home Price: $393,842
Although housing prices in Denver have increased in the past few years, the low unemployment rate, reasonable annual salary, and great social scene make it an ideal location for young professionals. You might pay a little more in monthly rent to live in the mile-high city, but it’s a great region filled with active residents—perfect for grads who love the outdoors.
- Average Annual Salary: $51,840
- Median Age: 2
- Unemployment Rate: 2.9%
- Median Home Price: $292,500
Austin has prospered over the past few years, bringing benefits and challenges in equal measure: As one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country, job seekers have plenty of options. But due to the influx of residents, housing prices have climbed well above the national average.
- Average Annual Salary: $47,110
- Median Age: 3
- Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
- Median Home Price: $248,883
Although Nashville suffers from the same hike in housing costs that characterize so many metro areas, Nashville has an advantage: It’s one of the few states that does not tax employee wages. Add in the vibrant nightlife and reasonable cost of living, and you have a winner.
Focus on What Matters
Lots of job seekers prize salary above all else, but don’t be lured in by salary promises alone when choosing a location. More important than averages are the specific characteristics of your location, including which companies are nearby and how in-demand your particular skillset is in the region. Keep this in mind as you narrow down your options and make sure to do plenty of research before committing to the move.