Best Cities For Young Professionals

The term “young professional” typically refers to individuals between 18 and 34 who are employed in a profession or white-collar occupation. Young professionals are often stereotyped as lonely and obsessed with success.

According to Pew Research, millennials – or young professionals - make up about 35% of the total U.S. labor force. Young professionals, whether fresh out of college or a few years out, are typically more willing to relocate to a new city for career opportunities and to start a new life. Their success as young professionals can have a significant impact on their finances later in life.

With a large number of young professionals entering or in the labor force, SmartAsset analyzed 150 cities to see which ones are the best for young professionals. Nine metrics were considered:

  • Percentage of the population between ages 25 and 34
  • The unemployment rate for young professionals
  • Labor force participation rate for young professionals
  • Median gross rent
  • Entertainment establishment density
  • Job diversity
  • Median earnings
  • Five-year change in median earnings
  • Median rent as a percentage of full-time workers’ earnings

Based on these nine metrics, the ten best cities for young professionals are:

  1. Sioux Falls, SD
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Nashville, TN
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Raleigh, NC
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. Madison, WI
  9. Seattle, WA
  10. Charlotte, NC

For the third year in a row, Sioux Falls, South Dakota ranked as the best city for young professionals. Sioux Falls ranked in the top 40% of all metrics except for job diversity, where it ranked 85th of 150 cities. A majority of the jobs in Sioux Falls are in retail trade, educational services, healthcare, and social assistance. Sioux has the least expensive rent of all cities analyzed with a median rent of $800 per month, only about 15.14% of a full-time worker’s earnings.

Austin, Texas is the second-best city for young professionals with a low unemployment rate of 3.0% and a median salary of $67,755. Austin ranks 110th out of 150 for median gross rent, which is on the high side of $1,244; however, one can expect to pay 22.03% of their income on rent, which is below average.

Denver, Colorado and Nashville, Tennessee tied for the third-best city for young professionals. Denver has the highest job diversity of any of the top ten cities. Nashville moved 17 spots from 20th to 3rd because of its jump in median earnings to $57,737 and a subsequent increase in the five-year change in earnings to 23.4%.

Sioux Falls has the lowest percentage of people between 25 and 34 of the top ten cities of 16.9% and San Francisco has the highest of 23.5%. While San Francisco has the highest rent of all 10 cities, it also has the highest median salary of $110,816. Each of the top ten cities has an unemployment rate below 4%, the lowest being in Raleigh of 2.5% and the highest being in Charlotte of 3.9%.