Six of the Best Cities For Young Professionals
Congratulations! You’ve graduated from college, you have your degree in hand, and are ready to wave goodbye to your university days.
Chances are, if you’ve come this far, you are reasonably sure about what you want to do with your life vocationally. However, one thing you may have not considered is where you want to do it. Selecting a place to live and start your career is one of the biggest decisions you can make. Choosing wisely can affect your quality of life significantly, as well as ease the way for subsequent decisions, such as purchasing a home or starting a family.
Selecting a city to call home may not be entirely in your control—the company that hires you may ultimately determine where you go. If you’re just starting your job search, you may want to zoom in on particular areas that are actively working to attract new college-educated professionals. More and more, cities across America are recognizing that young professionals are the key to revitalizing their economies, and are rebranding their marketing specifically towards younger workers.
What do young professionals want in a city? The expected attractions are still popular these days: a fun and thriving social scene, affordable housing options, and good public transit. Nowadays, commodities such as walkability, community, and diversity are also high on the list.
If you haven’t considered city life beyond America’s biggest metro areas, here are a few vibrant and thriving cities you may want to put on your list when narrowing down your job search. Not only are these areas ideal places for young workers to start their careers, they are also perfect for vertical career growth.
If you’re the type who wants to stay put, and grow upwards within one company, all of these options allow for easy life-stage adjustments. When it’s time to get married, buy your first home, or plan for life with children—you’ll find everything you need to easily get to the next step.
Austin: “Keep It Weird”
The Texas capital city has long embraced a “weird” aesthetic – which simply means it’s different from the rest of the mostly conservative state. This doesn’t mean “normal” people can’t love it too! There is much to enjoy in this vibrant city, which is tailor-made for a young adult lifestyle.
First and foremost: This is the place for the arts. The city is proud of its outstanding art scene, and also dubs itself the “live music capital” of the world, with more than 1700 venues to hear live music. No doubt you’ve heard of some of Austin’s bigger music festivals, such as the Austin City Limits festival and multiplatform South By Southwest annual event.
That said, Austin also has the unique quality of shining in both business and the arts. It’s an extraordinarily robust economical city: Forbes named it the #1 city for jobs in 2012. It’s become a hotspot for tech growth (California-based Apple recently expanded its operations in Austin) as well as a wide variety of industries in general.
Now to the really good part: Unlike other tech-heavy areas (such as Silicon Valley), it’s very affordable, offers beautiful suburban areas, and there’s assistance available for new homebuyers. This affordability, combined with good civic services, makes it easy to expand your housing options when it’s time to have kids.
It’s all in Austin’s slogan. The city may be growing at a Texas-sized rate, but it remains “weird”—and lovable—both embracing diversity and retaining the unique charm of Texas culture and community.
Milwaukee: More Than Just Beer
Not that there’s anything wrong with beer, of course—but you may not realize that the competitive brewing industry is not as robust in this city as it used to be. In fact, there’s actually just one major commercial brewery (MillerCoors) currently operating in Milwaukee.
Beer does abound, however: there are a plethora of microbreweries in the area. But chances are you won’t be working there, as there are so many other businesses in this beautiful and affordable Midwestern city, which also offers an amazing slice of American culture.
The city is known for its blue-collar history, but is constantly evolving, and its present state is one of metro-sophistication, offering cultural diversity and plenty of things to see and do.
One of the most interesting features of this city is its collection of amazing early architecture dating from the 1800s. Milwaukee even has its own preservation society dedicated to education, advocacy, restoration, and protection of the city’s historic buildings.
While taking a walking tour of the city, you’re bound to get hungry. Milwaukee can take care of that, with a colorful restaurant scene that showcases the city’s rich and diverse immigrant population, which includes Italian, Irish, Polish and German roots. And did we mention the microbreweries?! Wash down your meal with one of the city’s unique beers (or wine or cocktails, if you prefer).
Milwaukee is one of the nation’s best cities for distinctly American flavor: Did you know the Harley-Davidson Museum is here? Also, Milwaukee’s housing prices are quite low compared to other major cities, and the suburban communities are full of good old-fashioned Midwestern friendliness.
Pittsburgh: The Steel City
Chances are, you associate Pittsburgh with its industrial history of steel plants—even the city’s NFL team is named “The Steelers!” However, this underrated city has undergone a public-image transformation, from factories puffing polluted air through the cityscape to one of the most livable places on Earth.
In fact, Pittsburgh is a leader in embracing a citywide green philosophy! The city boasts two of the first 12 buildings to be nationally “Green” certified. And, it’s now ranked eighth in the country for its overall number of green buildings. Wondering what constitutes a “green building?” In a nutshell, it’s a structure that considers the goal of reducing impact on the environment throughout all phases of its lifecycle—from design to construction to eventual removal.
Additionally, there is a healthy cultural scene in the Steel City, including the famed Carnegie Museums. This collection of museums offers distinctive centers for art, natural history, science – plus the Andy Warhol Museum, which explores contemporary culture through the famed works of its namesake.
If, after immersing yourself in the arts, you find yourself in the mood for a little sports action, Pittsburgh is definitely up to the game! This city loves its pro sports: catch some action from the Steelers, Pirates, or Penguins game in your free time.
Find Yourself Off To One of The Big Cities?
Of course, as noted earlier, you may not have the final say in where you are directed to start your working life. Many young professionals will find themselves accepting offers from companies in the “usual” big cities – but not to worry. If you find yourself in this position, these wonderful areas are still tried-and-true places for young professionals to grow and thrive.
If your career path takes you to a major city, you have the option of living in the direct metro area, or you can find a great neighboring town or niche neighborhood to put down roots–you’ll find a lower cost of living, lots of culture, and reasonable proximity to your workplace. Here’s some ideas to consider.
Working in New York City? Try living in Astoria, Queens.
Queens has a very manageable commute to the city – in fact, it’s only 30 minutes to basically any subway spot in NYC.
Aside from the convenience, it’s a diverse, young, and fun community! Check out the many super-trendy bars, eateries, and places to have fun. As a bonus, it’s a pedestrian area where you can enjoy exploring by foot or bike.
Working in Los Angeles? Try living in Riverside.
Riverside is about 60 miles from downtown L.A. As Angelenos well know, the city is notorious for stop-and-go traffic, but Riverside commuters can use the Metrolink rail for a smooth commute to the big city.
Additionally, Riverside is rated in Forbes’ Top 10 happiest cities for young professionals. Housing prices are well below L.A.’s (sky-high) average, and residents can enjoy a huge variety of restaurants, libraries, and shops throughout the Inland Empire, where Riverside is located.
Working in Chicago? Try living in Oak Park
Oak Park is just nine miles outside of Chicago and has easy public transit to downtown.
Looking for historic culture? Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright an american architect spent 20 years here. Needless to say, architectural landmarks abound and there’s a variety of housing options.
Now that you have some ideas, it’s up to you to figure out where your dreams, goals, and path will ultimately take you. Good luck in your job—and lifestyle—search!
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