Your 20’s are an interesting time filled with adventures you never thought you’d go on, moments of self-revelation, fear of the unknown, challenges that form your future personality, relationships that change you, laughing till your belly hurts, and waiting in long lines at Chipotle. But where are you going to have these experiences? Where are you going to hang your hat after a long day at work, thrifting, and eating overpriced salads? We did a bit of research to find the best cities to live in during your 20’s. I can say from experience, I have lived in two of these ten cities during my 20’s and I don’t regret one minute of it. If you’re looking for the best place to live, or you just want a change of scenery then keep reading.
First up on our list, Atlanta the capital of Georgia. Did you know that Atlanta is the 38th most populated city in America? For good reason too. Not only do you get the city life feel with Downtown Atlanta, but as a young person, you are exposed to so much creativity, culture, community, and affordable living. Not to mention there are more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies that are always looking to hire. You’ll always find a great place to eat as it’s southern roots won’t let you leave a meal without several flavors (and carbs.) Looking to get outdoors and explore nature? No worries. Within an hour drive, you can escape the city to so many places to hike, swim, camp, or frolic through the meadows. Read about these 8 places to escape to only a short drive from Atlanta.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville has got to be one of the coolest cities to live in on the East Coast. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s filled with so many things to do, places to eat, good music, and a great community for artists. Its small city charm makes you feel like every store you go into, you’re a regular and should know everyone who works there. Young artists tend to thrive in Asheville because of its art scene. You can find murals painted everywhere, one of the most popular ones is “Chicken Alley” by Molly Must. For those who enjoy a good drink, you’re covered. Asheville is known to be “Beer City USA” since it houses over 26 different breweries. There’s still a ton to do outside though, and you get to enjoy all four seasons. Although the average cost of living has gone up the past few years (because so many people want to live there) your 20’s is a great time to head over and enjoy all the adventure Asheville has to offer….before you settle down. Check out more of Asheville here.
Brooklyn, New York
Technically speaking, Brooklyn is not a city but a borough of New York filled with many neighborhoods. I fell in love with Brooklyn so long ago and knew that one day I just had to live here, and guess what? I did. I moved here 8 months ago, and although NY is a pretty hard state to live in because it’s so crowded and expensive, it’s been a life changing experience that I don’t regret. Whether you live in the famous Williamsburg or the cute Park Slope, you’re bound to find a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, art gallery, and deli that will for sure become a regular spot. Now, Brooklyn isn’t the cheapest place to live in your 20’s but it for sure is a place everyone should experience at least once. if you live with roommates/friends/family, it can be done with a simple 9-5 job. I think Brooklyn is one of the best places to live during your 20’s because it does a great job of 1. molding who you are and who you will be in the future, and 2. giving you once-in-a-lifetime experiences you wouldn’t have anywhere else. So head over to the farmers market under the Brooklyn Bridge, or pick up some flowers at the Botanical Gardens and cross BK off your list.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t Orlando where Mickey & Minnie mouse live? Isn’t Florida where people go to retire? The answer to both of those questions is yes, but it’s also a wonderful place to live in during your 20’s and here’s why. First of all, it’s so affordable & Florida doesn’t have state tax! That’s a HUGE win right there. I lived in a 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment with a patio and all amenities you could think of (in-unit laundry, dishwasher, gym, pool, dog park, free parking, gated community, etc) and my portion of the rent was $467. I had a decent size room with a huge window, a full walk-in closet and I shared my bathroom with only one other person. There’s also a ton of industries to work in. Business, hospitality, education or medicine, you name it. Then on the weekends, you can head downtown for drinks, The Milk District for a good food/art scene, or drive to the beach. Then if you’re really adventurous, you could hit up some of the thrill seeker rides on I-Drive. I loved the 25 years I lived there and miss some of the suburban life. If you have a car and want to be somewhere that’s warm all year round, Orlando is the place to be.
This has got to be one of the most eclectic cities on our list but nonetheless still a great place to call your home in your 20’s. Now, it’s not the cheapest, but if you fall in love with Portland, then it’s also a place you can settle down in. That’s what’s so great about it. People who are just coming and going and people who have built homes and families find exactly what they need out of Portland. Feeling eco-friendly? Of course, you should, and Portland is the place for you! It’s one of the most eco-friendly places to live, and artistic as well. Portland supports people, art, and humor of all kind. Like to ride your bike around town? Cool so does literally everyone else so you’ll fit right in. There’s tons of work opportunity as well as Portland thrives off of supporting small businesses, and any creative endeavors from its local neighbors. If you own a pair of rain boots and don’t mind getting out of the sun most days, then Portland is perfect for you.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
It’s always been this unsaid dream of mine to take a trip to Albuquerque since hearing about how sustainably they live their lives, and how much there is to do in such a dry desert-like climate. Hopefully one day I can, until then, I am adding it on my list for many reasons. Those reasons include living in communities that promote sustainability and zero-waste, the kind generosity of the people that live there, the amount of amazing outdoor adventures you can take, and the surprisingly average cost of living. Seriously a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom can be anywhere from $900-$1000 and since living in Brooklyn where my rent is almost three times that price, I would say that’s a great deal.
Things are weird in Austin, and they pride themselves in that. Did you know that Austin is also one of the best cities for young people to live in because there are such high paying jobs and a surprisingly low cost of living? More money in your pocket? Yes, please. You can literally find homes for rent for $1200. You can’t even find a studio for rent in NYC for that price. You’re already winning in Austin for that. Next, the community. Austin is similar to most hipster communities in that they love supporting small businesses, a strong cup of joe, juicing, thrifting, and the smell of old books. And, if you don’t have a car to get around, no worries. Austin’s metro has been voted #9 on the best performing metros by U.S Metro Clean Tech. There is also so much to do outside, you’ll be sure to get in your Vitamin D when you need it! Check out 7 more reasons why you should live in Austin during your 20’s here.
Of course, these are not in any order and there are SO many more places that you could live in during your 20’s. Places like Tulsa, Chicago, Seattle, Echo Park California, and so much more would be great to experience while you’re young and figuring life out. If you or a friend want to move somewhere cool, bookmark this list to look back at for research. If you live in any of these places, let us know in the comments below. Tell us your favorite spot to eat food, the stuff we should 100% do if we visit, and the things we should know before moving! Good luck on any adventure you take and know that we’re all figuring it out, and none of us really know what we’re doing!
Amanda Smith is a freelance writer, social media + branding specialist, and all around fashionista. She loves writing about fashion, beauty, wellness, and career advice. Her dream is to turn her own personal brand into a fulltime business where she can create content, products, and all sorts of media that inspires young women around the world. In her free time she loves to thrift, drink coffee, practice film photography, travel, get outside, and make content for her blog. You can usually find her staying in on a Friday night with a face mask, cuddling up to a puppy she's sitting, and watching Youtube videos.