Would you live in a city where you couldn’t get decent pizza to save your life? What if there wasn’t a farmer’s market, concert venue, or locally owned coffee shop? If you’re shaking your head “no,” you’re not alone. When it comes to choosing a place to live, millennials are looking for cities that have it all, a recent survey by apartment search website Abodo found — great movie theaters, plenty of non-chain dining options, a revitalized downtown, and walkable neighborhoods. But more important than all those nice-to-have amenities were a thriving job market and reasonably priced housing.
Being able to land a decent job and find an affordable apartment or house landed at the top of the list of millennials’ must-haves in a city, according to Abodo’s survey of 2,000 people born between 1982 and 1998. Access to parks and hiking trails and local, non-chain restaurants were also important. And being able to get a decent slice of pizza barely edged out top-rated public schools on the list of what people in this demo consider essential in a city.
“Millennials, although sometimes viewed as selfish, entitled and lazy, are actually very career driven and want to pursue a life in a city with a thriving job market,” Sam Radbil, senior communications manager at Abodo, told The Cheat Sheet. “Although pizza may be more important than top-rated schools or quality transportation in certain cities, millennials are focused on doing what is best for them and for their careers.”
The qualities that millennials said they wanted most in a city don’t always match up with the cities they love the most. Twenty percent of respondents picked New York City as the perfect place to live, followed by San Francisco. Neither town is known for its abundance of affordable housing. But the quest for a city with a great job market, cheap apartments, and lots of amenities isn’t necessarily fruitless. Abodo compared the list of the 20 “perfect” cities identified in its survey with the 20 qualities most important to millennials to discover which ticked most of the boxes. Six cities met more than 90% of the criteria.
Of course, just because a city is on the top of the list doesn’t mean it’s the right city for you. If your career is more important to you than affordable housing, San Francisco might be a perfect choice. If you don’t care about public transit and walkability, San Diego has a lot to offer. A desire to be close to family may also dictate your choice. If you’re considering relocating, you need to do a little digging to find out if a city will work for you.
“Overall, it’s important to remember to do the research, visit the city you might be moving to, consult with friends who have lived there and to imagine your day-to-day life in that ideal city,” Radbil said. “There are so many great places to live throughout the country, but wherever millennials land, it’s clear they’ll be motivated and hungry for success in their career.”
Here are the seven best cities for millennials, as determined by Abodo.
7. Chicago, Illinois
Downtown beaches, good public transit (including all-night subway service on some lines), top-notch pizza, and walkable neighborhoods meant Chicago had 85% of the qualities millennials want in a city, pushing it to the No. 7 spot on Abodo’s list. But the city’s public school system is foundering and the job market is in the doldrums. Chicago added far fewer jobs than expected between 2014 and 2015, according to data from CareerBuilder.
6. Seattle, Washington
Of the 20 cities Abodo ranked, only Seattle earned points for its public school system. When combined with a strong job market (the Seattle area is home to major tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon) and affordable home prices, that could make it an ideal choice for millennials who are thinking about settling down and starting a family.
5. Portland, Oregon
Portlandia jokes aside, this Oregon city really is a millennial paradise. There are close to 50 local farmers markets, plenty of great coffee shops (including several on the Daily Meal’s “best of” list), and easy access to great hiking and trails. The city may not be as walkable as some, but you can always ride your bike.
4. New York, New York
New York might be expensive, but it’s the place to be if you’re hoping to build a career in an industry like finance or media. It’s also the city where millennials of all ages and genders were most likely to want to live. And if you’re a pizza fanatic, you’ll be able to buy a slice on nearly every corner.
3. Washington, D.C.
Only 1.4% of millennials surveyed picked D.C. as their perfect city. Despite its somewhat stodgy reputation, our nation’s capital has a lot of things young people are looking for, including good transit, job opportunities, and walkable neighborhoods.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
Of the 20 qualities millennials rank as most important in a city, Boston has all but two: affordable rent and good public schools. Yet it ranked behind less amenity-rich cities like Austin, Los Angeles, and Denver when young people named the places they’d most like to live.
1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The City of Brotherly Love met 95% of millennials’ criteria for a good city. Philadelphia has a strong job market, affordable rent and housing, and decent public transit. The one thing the city lacks? A good public school system.
Here is the complete list of millennials’ favorite cities, ranked by the percentage of desirable qualities each has.
Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS