Graduating from college and entering “the real world” can be a challenging adjustment, to say the least.
After spending four years (in some cases, more) living among peers your own age, who share similar interests and values, leaving campus-life behind can feel like a departure from utopia.
Years ago, you'd have little choice but to reminisce about the glory days while slowly conforming to a buttoned-up suburban existence, surrounded by adults and children whose idea of a good time meant playing a rousing game of Scrabble on a Friday night.
Fortunately, Millennials are now reversing a 100-year trend in which young people favored the quiet suburbs over frenetic metropolises when setting out on their own.
In decades past, only a tiny segment of young adults opted to move to a city following graduation. Now, roughly two-thirds choose to migrate to an urban setting.
With this trend in mind, the people at Niche, a data analysis firm for young adults, have ranked the top cities and neighborhoods for Millennials to live.
Using data collected over the course of four years, nearly 500,000 surveys from college students and recent graduates, US Census statistics and FBI crime rates, Niche was able to rank the 25 best metro areas for young adults.
The ranking order was determined by five categories for each city: percentage of Millennials aged 25-34 living there, median rent, median income, crime rate and representative college.
Below, we've listed the 10 best cities for Millennials to live and thrive.
1. New York City, New York
Millennial Population: 14%
Median Rent: $1,157 Median Income: $31,703 Crime Score: Low Representative College: New York University Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Greenpoint (Brooklyn)
Living in New York City is well-worth the expense. With a population of more than 8 million people, you're sure to quickly find a social circle that can accommodate your interests. If you're a foodie, there is perhaps no better place to live than Manhattan.
Boasting more than 4,200 restaurants, you could eat at a different location every night for 12 years.
Factor in endless entertainment offerings, incredible nightlife and 11 professional sports teams, New York City deserves its top spot on the list of cities ideally suited for Millennials. That being said, be sure to read this before you pack your bags and sign a lease.
2. Austin, Texas
Millennial Population: 17% Median Rent: $936 Median Income: $30,816 Crime Score: Below Average Representative College: University of Texas - Austin Best Neighborhood for Millennials: South River City
Austin has quietly emerged as a premier destination for young adults in recent years. Establishing itself as a veritable incubator for entrepreneurs, Austin has lured in some of America's best and hardest-working innovators, compelling them to swap their oxfords for a sturdy pair of cowboy boots.
What makes Austin most appealing, however, is its exploding arts and entertainment scene. The city has grown into one of the world's foremost cultural hubs.
Playing host city for the wildly popular South by Southwest festival each year, Austin is a choice destination for film, technology and music aficionados.
3. Washington, DC
Millennial Population: 15% Median Rent: $1,353 Median Income: $42,226 Crime Score: Average Representative College: Georgetown University Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Clarendon (Arlington)
Craving lucrative and prestigious careers, an up-and-coming social scene and luxurious living accommodations, Millennials have been migrating to our nation's capital in droves for the past few years.
In fact, Washington has outpaced almost every other city in the country in wooing young adults, experiencing a 23 percent uptick between 2000 and 2010.
Though that influx of Millennial residents has slowed a bit since, Millennials were responsible for half of Washington's population growth between 2010 and 2012.
4. Chicago, Illinois
Millennial Population: 14% Median Rent: $931 Median Income: $30,061 Crime Score: Average Representative College: DePaul University Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Wicker Park
The lakeside city offers many of the same benefits as New York, but at a fraction of the price and with significantly less litter.
Despite being the third largest metropolitan area in the country, the Midwest juggernaut is optimal for anyone wanting to make the most of life while staying within budget.
To highlight this point, a condo in the elegant new luxury Legacy Building in the heart of downtown Chicago costs an average of $600 per square foot.
By comparison, a condo at the 432 Park Avenue building in New York averages a cost of $6,000 per square foot.
Chicago's miserable winters are more than worth suffering through when consider that you can leave work in the afternoon and walk to the beach on Lake Michigan. Plus, the comedy scene is top-notch.
5. San Francisco, California
Millennial Population: 15% Median Rent: $1,344 Median Income: $36,119 Crime Score: Average Representative College: University of San Francisco Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Cow Hollow
Walter Cronkite once said that “Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible.”
His words provide some insight into what makes the West Coast city so appealing. It's Millennial appeal becomes even more obvious when you consider that it has topped the rankings of the happiest, healthiest and fittest cities in the country.
Combine that with its stunning beauty and proximity to the beach, and San Francisco is an optimal locale for young adults to call home.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
Millennial Population: 13%
Median Rent: $1,163 Median Income: $33,659 Crime Score: Below Average Representative College: Boston University Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Spring Hill (Somerville)
Though its population of 600,000 dwarfs in comparison to its NYC neighbor to the south, the historically important city has become a haven for well-educated young adults. The East Coast's heartland for venture capitalists, Boston is an ideal place to make a fortune.
For the nature lovers, Boston's fall foliage is unrivaled by any other city. And there's nothing quite like grabbing a hotdog and beer at Fenway and feeling like you've been transported back in time.
7. Denver, Colorado
Millennial Population: 15% Median Rent: $902 Median Income: $32,422 Crime Score: Below Average Representative College: University of Denver Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Speer
While Boston might be perfect for nature lovers in the fall, Denver caters to their needs year round. A short trip to the bordering mountains offers world-class skiing in the winter and epic hiking/rock climbing in the summer.
For the music enthusiasts, take a short 20 minute drive to the awe-inspiring Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the world's best outdoor concert venues.
8. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Millennial Population: 15% Median Rent: $874 Median Income: $29,830 Crime Score: Below Average Representative College: Southern Methodist University Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Oak Lawn
Dallas is home to more than 400 parks, 60 lakes and 18 Fortune 500 companies. With an unemployment rate well below the national average at 5.9 percent, the Texas City is one of the best to start a career.
The financial website Credit Donkey recently ranked Dallas second on its list of best cities for young couples, so Dallas might also prove the perfect location to start a family.
9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Millennial Population: 14% Median Rent: $864 Median Income: $33,511 Crime Score: Average Representative College: University of Minnesota Best Neighborhood for Millennials: North Loop
“The city was built around the park system, not the other way around,” Jayne Miller, superintendent for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, told the Star Tribune.
Perhaps that's why 83 percent of Minneapolis residents report getting at least the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, earning it the distinction of being the fittest city in the United States in 2012, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
For Millennials who want to earn a high salary but shy away from high rent, Minneapolis is especially appealing.
Its residents earn salaries roughly 23 percent above the national household income average, and housing costs are significantly cheaper than almost all other major cities, according to the Center for Housing Policy and the National Housing Conference.
10. San Diego, California
Millennial Population: 15% Median Rent: $1,261 Median Income: $30,196 Crime Score: Low Representative College: University of San Diego Best Neighborhood for Millennials: Little Italy
If you're a fan of brilliantly blue skies and year-round 70 degree temperatures, San Diego is the place to be. There are plenty of government and military jobs to go around, and with more than 70 miles of beaches, there's ample opportunity to soak in some rays.
Best of all, with the highest percentage of individuals who work out regularly anywhere in the nation, if you do take a day trip to one of San Diego's multitude of beaches, you can expect to be treated to some top-shelf eye candy.
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