US Economy

Top 10 U.S. Cities for Young People

Where the Young Are Moving

What makes a city attractive to young people?Well, first and foremost, it’s that there will be other young people there.“You need other young people around to bounce ideas off of -- to get excited with. That’s No. 1 most important,” said Bert Sperling of .There has to be a strong indie culture – a lot of bands, artists and other creative types. To gauge that, Sperling checked in with , which helps artists sell their music and merchandise to fans, , a site that offers tools for musicians and shar
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What makes a city attractive to young people?

Well, first and foremost, it’s that there will be other young people there.

“You need other young people around to bounce ideas off of -- to get excited with. That’s No. 1 most important,” said Bert Sperling of Sperling’s Best Places.

There has to be a strong indie culture – a lot of bands, artists and other creative types. To gauge that, Sperling checked in with Bandcamp, which helps artists sell their music and merchandise to fans, ReverbNation, a site that offers tools for musicians and shares their music, and , a grassroots-fundraising site for creative projects and inventions.

Plus, it has to be a fairly green, fairly diverse city. And, while young people don’t always make money a priority, there have to be jobs there and the city has to be somewhat affordable.

Sperling took all those criteria and came up with a list of the top 10 cities for young people. Click ahead to find out which cities made the list!

By Cindy Perman
13 May 2011


10. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington (MN-WI)

Metro population: 3.1 millionUnemployment rate: 7.9%Cost of living index: 103 (100 is average) What draws young people to the Twin Cities area? “First of all, it’s a very ‘nice,’ city,” Sperling said. “The people are very nice.” Plus, it’s clean, it’s green and there are jobs available.
Don Klumpp | Getty Images

Metro population: 3.1 million
Unemployment rate: 7.9%
Cost of living index: 103 (100 is average)

What draws young people to the Twin Cities area?

“First of all, it’s a very ‘nice,’ city,” Sperling said. “The people are very nice.”

Plus, it’s clean, it’s green and there are jobs available.


9. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro (TN)

Metro population: 1.4 millionUnemployment rate: 9.1%Cost of living index: 90.5 (100 is average) Among the 50 biggest metropolitan areas, Nashville ranks No. 2 for indie culture (Keep clicking to find out who’s No. 1!). “You don’t think of Nashville as a cool, hip place, but its’ become one. It’s segwaying from country music to more mainstream music,” Sperling said. “Because of all these great music studios available, and the fact that there is a whole lot of culture dealing with all aspects of m
Don Klumpp | Getty Images

Metro population: 1.4 million
Unemployment rate: 9.1%
Cost of living index: 90.5 (100 is average)

Among the 50 biggest metropolitan areas, Nashville ranks No. 2 for indie culture (Keep clicking to find out who’s No. 1!).

“You don’t think of Nashville as a cool, hip place, but its’ become one. It’s segwaying from country music to more mainstream music,” Sperling said. “Because of all these great music studios available, and the fact that there is a whole lot of culture dealing with all aspects of music, allows young musicians to do things on the cheap.”


8. Denver-Aurora (CO-IL)

Metro population: 2.4 millionUnemployment rate: 9.8%Cost of living index: 101.9 (100 is average) “Denver is a young city,” Sperling said. “It’s two big things are it’s young and it’s green,” Sperling said. There’s a lot to do outdoors, with the Rocky Mountains right there, and the city has a great public-transportation system. It’s also got a decent indie culture and there are jobs available. “It’s young and it’s got a lot of energy!” Sperling said.
Jeffrey Beall

Metro population: 2.4 million
Unemployment rate: 9.8%
Cost of living index: 101.9 (100 is average)

“Denver is a young city,” Sperling said. “It’s two big things are it’s young and it’s green,” Sperling said.

There’s a lot to do outdoors, with the Rocky Mountains right there, and the city has a great public-transportation system. It’s also got a decent indie culture and there are jobs available.

“It’s young and it’s got a lot of energy!” Sperling said.


7. New York-White Plains-Wayne (NY-NJ)

Metro population: 11.5 millionUnemployment rate: 9.3%Cost of living index: 153.5 (100 is average) “New York is practically like the center of the universe!” Sperling said. “It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It’s maddening. It’s impossible. But that’s what makes everything possible and why people live five to an apartment to be there!” There are a lot of young people living in New York and there’s a strong indie culture. It’s an inspiring place that draws thousands of young people testing out Frank S
Jeff Keen

Metro population: 11.5 million
Unemployment rate: 9.3%
Cost of living index: 153.5 (100 is average)

“New York is practically like the center of the universe!” Sperling said. “It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It’s maddening. It’s impossible. But that’s what makes everything possible and why people live five to an apartment to be there!”

There are a lot of young people living in New York and there’s a strong indie culture. It’s an inspiring place that draws thousands of young people testing out Frank Sinatra’s theory that, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it any-where .”


6. Boston-Quincy (MA)

Metro population: 1.8 millionUnemployment rate: 8.7%Cost of living index: 132.8 (100 is average) Another surprise on the indie circuit: Boston actually tied Nashville for the No. 2 spot in terms of indie culture. But here, it’s not just music, it’s also innovation and invention, given that there are more than 100 colleges and universities here, including Harvard and MIT. In fact, Boston has such a reputation as an intellectually center, it’s often referred to as “The Athens of America.” Plus, it
Werner Kunz

Metro population: 1.8 million
Unemployment rate: 8.7%
Cost of living index: 132.8 (100 is average)

Another surprise on the indie circuit: Boston actually tied Nashville for the No. 2 spot in terms of indie culture. But here, it’s not just music, it’s also innovation and invention, given that there are more than 100 colleges and universities here, including Harvard and MIT. In fact, Boston has such a reputation as an intellectually center, it’s often referred to as “The Athens of America.”

Plus, it’s a dense city, which makes it easy to get around, and it’s beautiful city, set on the Charles River and Boston Harbor.


5. Portland-Vancouver –Beaverton (OR-WA)

Metro population: 2.1 millionUnemployment rate: 6.7%Cost of living index: 114.4 (100 is average) Portland is one of the top 10 places for indie culture in America, and it’s a gorgeous city that comes in at No. 1 for green living. However, there aren’t a ton of jobs here, prompting a joke from the IFC TV series “Portlandia,” “It’s where young people go to retire!”
Patrick Brooks Brandenburg | Getty Images

Metro population: 2.1 million
Unemployment rate: 6.7%
Cost of living index: 114.4 (100 is average)

Portland is one of the top 10 places for indie culture in America, and it’s a gorgeous city that comes in at No. 1 for green living.

However, there aren’t a ton of jobs here, prompting a joke from the IFC TV series “Portlandia,” “It’s where young people go to retire!”


4. Salt Lake City (UT)

Metro population: 1 millionUnemployment rate: 6.1%Cost of living index: 103.1 (100 is average) The biggest surprise on the top 10 list of cities for young people is Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s the fastest-growing city for young people, and part of that may be that it ranks ranks in the top five in terms of job opportunities and it’s more affordable than some of the other hip cities in the Rockies and on the West Coast. Plus, there’s a decent indie culture.
Scott Markewitz | Getty Images

Metro population: 1 million
Unemployment rate: 6.1%
Cost of living index: 103.1 (100 is average)

The biggest surprise on the top 10 list of cities for young people is Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s the fastest-growing city for young people, and part of that may be that it ranks ranks in the top five in terms of job opportunities and it’s more affordable than some of the other hip cities in the Rockies and on the West Coast. Plus, there’s a decent indie culture.


3. Seattle-Bellvue-Everett (WA)

Metro population: 2.4 millionUnemployment rate: 8.1%Cost of living index: 132.9 (100 is average) Seattle was the grunge music capital in the 90s and it’s “still a very happening place,” Sperling said. It ranks high on indie culture, the number of young people and green living.
Sue Elias

Metro population: 2.4 million
Unemployment rate: 8.1%
Cost of living index: 132.9 (100 is average)

Seattle was the grunge music capital in the 90s and it’s “still a very happening place,” Sperling said. It ranks high on indie culture, the number of young people and green living.


2. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City (CA)

Metro population: 1.7 millionUnemployment rate: 7%Cost of living index: 193 (100 is average) San Francisco is the No. 1 city for indie culture and there are a ton of young people. Plus, it’s a very dense city with a great transportation system, which makes it easier to get around. Plus, it’s a very green city, situated on the San Francisco Bay and close to a lot of outdoor activities.
Ann Larie Valentine

Metro population: 1.7 million
Unemployment rate: 7%
Cost of living index: 193 (100 is average)

San Francisco is the No. 1 city for indie culture and there are a ton of young people. Plus, it’s a very dense city with a great transportation system, which makes it easier to get around. Plus, it’s a very green city, situated on the San Francisco Bay and close to a lot of outdoor activities.


1. Austin (TX)

Metro population: 1.4 millionUnemployment rate: 6.8%Cost of living index: 99.4 (100 is average) And the No. 1 city for young people is … Austin, Texas! Austin is one of the top spots for indie culture and it’s a green city. And, there are a lot of jobs available -- it’s one of the top five cities for employment. “And these days, jobs are pretty much the most important thing!”
Ed Schipul

Metro population: 1.4 million
Unemployment rate: 6.8%
Cost of living index: 99.4 (100 is average)

And the No. 1 city for young people is … Austin, Texas!

Austin is one of the top spots for indie culture and it’s a green city. And, there are a lot of jobs available -- it’s one of the top five cities for employment.

“And these days, jobs are pretty much the most important thing!”


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