Millennials all over the world are finding more happiness in cities, studies show, as opposed to smaller, rural towns. Why? These cities usually offer better career opportunities, more chances to make friends or meet a partner, and they’re honestly just a lot more fun.
While millennials aren’t looking for party cities necessarily, there are a few things that are important to us, such as cost of living, affordability of rent, local nightlife, and overall well-being (AKA the vibes).
Interested in learning about where millennials are moving to and what’s driving them there? We ranked the 50 best cities for millennials in 2020 according to the following criteria:
- Quality of Life, Peacefulness, & Happiness (Expat Index 2019)
- Cost of Living (Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey)
- Data from millennial trends and preferences on Statista
- The overall existing population of millennials in each city
- Opinions of millennial-friendly cities as sampled from our audience of 1.5 million
Best Cities For Millennials
Hong Kong is actually one of the most expensive cities in the world, which accounts for its last-place ranking. However, tourism is strong and millennials seem to love the food culture here.
Stockholm is the No. 1 city in Europe for singles, but for millennials in general, it didn’t rank that high. Employment as a foreigner is hard to snag, alcohol is expensive, and it’s pretty darn cold.
Even though Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, millennials didn’t seem to show the city much love during our survey. While the startup scene is booming and jobs are great, the city lacks the kind of nightlife millennials look for.
The nightlife and business opportunities in Lyon make the city a great place for millennial workers. However, expensive beer and a lacklustre foodie culture seemed to hurt the city’s ranking overall.
Any city in Spain is a great city for millennials who enjoy lots of sunshine, a low cost of living, and friendly people. Valencia is no different, but it ended up ranking lower than other Spanish cities due to a lack of jobs. If you’re a digital nomad, however, this city is great!
The best city in the world for millennials looking for cheap housing? Guadalajara. This city ranked No. 1 for housing and also scored high in terms of career opportunities, food, and cost of going out. The city’s actually No. 1 in Mexico for the consumption of alcohol. Tequila, anyone?
Colombia has become pretty popular in the digital nomad scene in recent years. Excellent cost of living, great weather, and awesome bars make this city great for millennials. However, to get a job here you’ll likely need to speak Spanish, making it better for millennials who work remote.
Budapest is the hottest European travel destination for 2020, but it also scored high amongst millennials who’ve moved there for work. With plenty of job opportunities and cheap housing, Budapest really only scored low in terms of healthcare and progressive social ideals.
Taipei is another city that we think was skewed by millennials who work remotely. With virtually no business opportunities for foreigners and fairly low scores in terms of openness and personal freedom, Taipei seems like a city for digital nomads who love cheap beer.
A booming startup scene and rich millennial culture make Chicago a pretty millennial-friendly city. If it weren’t so cold and housing wasn’t so expensive, a lot of millennials said they’d be more inclined to move to the hip hub of deep-dish pizza and jazz.
There’s no denying that millennials crave rich cultural experiences. Those looking to live in a bustling city steeped in centuries of tradition will love Mexico City, which ranked high for housing and happiness but lower for things like internet speed and traffic.
Due to the economic crisis that Argentina is currently facing, Buenos Aires is a great city for millennials looking to invest in property but not for those in search of work. If you work remotely, then living in Buenos Aires is a great choice, offering cheap housing and lots of tango.
What millennial doesn’t dream of surfing in Santa Monica every morning and then heading to a cute, Instagrammable cafe for brunch? Lots, actually. Despite being a cultural hub with lots of opportunities to work and meet mates, millennials didn’t seem to think Los Angeles was that cool, in part due to the exorbitant cost of housing and horrible traffic.
If you’re not a digital nomad, then Bangkok might not be the place for you. With virtually no business opportunities for foreigners, Bangkok’s ranking seemed to be skewed by the fact that people here are friendly, beer is cheap, and so is housing. Oh, and easy access to lots of islands.
Antwerp scored about near the middle for everything from housing and nightlife to gender equality and employment, making it a great, average city for millennials. Visitors and locals there noted that the city itself is extremely peaceful and charming.
The city with the fastest internet in the world? Seoul, South Korea. If your work depends a lot on high-speed internet, then check out this city. Seoul also ranked pretty high for millennials interested in great food and quality education.
Geneva and Zurich are great, but millennials also seemed to really love the Swiss capital city of Bern. Although small and lacking on the nightlife, older millennials noted that they loved the tranquillity and cleanliness of Bern.
Helsinki ranked as one of the most liberal places to live, with millennials loving the personal freedoms they felt they had in Finland. While housing isn’t cheap, it’s cheaper here than in other parts of Europe, and the city is extremely LGBT-friendly.
In terms of work opportunities, Boston scored nearly 10 for both jobs and the local startup scene. Healthcare, nightlife, and the cost of living aren’t as great in Boston as they are in other top US cities for millennials. But, there are lots of great festivals for those who love to party.
Often ranked as one of the friendliest cities in the UK, Bristol hasn’t fallen prey to troves of tourists just yet. Those looking for serious job opportunities will find plenty here, and the quiet setting mixed with great local bars make it one of the best cities for millennials in 2020.
Monterrey was actually extremely popular amongst millennials in a few key areas: cheap housing, great food, tasty beer, and career opportunities. Depending on the industry you work in, you can find great jobs in Monterrey. And, with housing so cheap, you’ll be able to save a lot of your salary.
Statistics show that millennials are moving to Raleigh in herds. Okay, maybe not herds, but it is popular in the world of millennial real estate. In recent years, the city has also seen a nearly 13% increase in millennial population and a 22.7% increase in average wages.
Those looking to enjoy the high quality of life in the Netherlands without having to live in a big city might enjoy Groningen. It scored extremely high in terms of peacefulness and happiness. Job opportunities are a little scarce, but housing is cheap for those who work remote.
Swedish people are just so happy it hurts. If you’re tired of living around crabby, uptight people, then move to Gothenburg, Sweden where they nearly had a perfect score for happiness and peace. The city also ranked high for gender equality and great WiFi.
Fancy living a quaint, quiet life along the Loire River? You’ll find Nantes tucked away in Upper Brittany, surrounded by charming chateaus. Offering great healthcare, somewhat decent job opportunities, and a peaceful setting, Nantes is one of the best cities for millennials who like to chill.
Digital nomads, listen up! For some odd reason, people rave about the internet connection in Denver, making it one of the best cities for millennials and digital nomads. Wages here are increasing, which attracts business-minded millennials who also love the 420-friendly culture.
Ample nightlife, fairly-priced drinks, and pretty decent housing make Glasgow one of the best cities for millennials, at least in the UK. Millennials love how progressive the city is, and note that for being a larger city, they felt pretty safe here.
Liberal millennials love Copenhagen for the city’s open-mindedness and progressive ideals. A few noted that they could do with a few more sunshine hours, but also said that people who live in Denmark are some of the happiest people in the world.
Millennials are fueling a strong startup culture all over the world, and San Francisco is the biggest hub on the West Coast of the United States. The city’s great for entrepreneurs who enjoy going out. However, it’s also one of the most expensive cities for millennials, which definitely hurt its ranking.
Canada, in general, ranked as the best country for immigrant millennials. Canadian culture is extremely accepting of newcomers, and Quebec City ranked as the best city in Canada for millennials looking for new job opportunities.
There’s no place quite like New York City – if you can afford it that is. New York City is home to the best startup scene in the world, top-notch festivals and quality nightlife. While there are ample career opportunities for millennials here, the cost of living and low peacefulness score pushed the city all the way down to No. 20.
As one of the friendliest cities in Europe, Birmingham scored high amongst millennials who wanted to enjoy a fairly liberal society in a town that didn’t feel too touristy. Housing prices are moderate and the unemployment rate is pretty low.
Fun, affordable, and trendy are al three very attractive traits that Nashville has. The economy here is booming, with a 30% increase in median wages in recent years and a 48% decrease in the unemployment rate. That, along with the local nightlife make this one of the best cities for millennials who want it all.
If it weren’t for London’s nightlife, Manchester would have taken the top spot for the most millennial-friendly city in England. However, it still scored high, especially in terms of acceptance and foodie scene.
The progressive politics you’ll find in Portugal, combined with the outstanding nightlife and cheap drinks, made Lisbon quite popular amongst millennials. Rent here is cheaper than in other parts of Europe, and Portugal is a great home base for those who travel a lot to other European cities.
The metro in Madrid is one of the most well-connected metros in Europe, making the city ideal for those who care a lot about their morning commute. You’ll also find that housing here is pretty cheap compared to other capital cities in Europe, which is great considering you’re going to want to spend your savings on cheap beer and great food while you’re here.
There are a surprising amount of job opportunities in Hamburg for hungry millennials looking to advance in their career. Despite receiving moderate scores pretty much across the board, statistics show upward millennial trends there, and local millennials love where they live.
New Zealand is extremely expat-friendly, making it a great place for millennials looking to relocate their life. It’s currently the second most peaceful city in the world as well as one of the most LGBT-friendly travel destinations. Job opportunities here aren’t bad, either.
Not even the outrageous housing prices could stop London from sneaking into the top twelve. Millennials are crazy about London, which offers them exquisite dining choices, a superb education system, and a pretty great startup scene to join.
When it comes to the best country for expats in the world, Australia won by a longshot. Serving up ample amounts of sunny days, lots of smiles, and a pretty high quality of life, Adelaide also made waves due to the excellent house price to income ratio.
Let’s face it, being a millennial is tough on the pockets. With mounting student debt and lower wages, the best cities for millennials are often ones that they can afford. We guess that’s why Phoenix was so popular. A booming real estate market, great weather, and affordability were all other reasons millennials listed as to what makes Phoenix so great.
Cologne scored highest for its nightlife, followed closely by the fact that it’s incredibly LGBT-friendly. Millennials both native and foreign consistently ranked the city pretty high, though, in terms of networking opportunities and quality of life.
Oh, Canada. Perhaps one of the most socially open and progressive countries in the world, Canada’s famous amongst millennials in part due to Justin Trudeau’s flashy smile and eagerness to legalise weed. However, Toronto is home to an excellent startup scene. The quality of life in general here made the city extra popular.
There’s little that Amsterdam doesn’t offer millennials, aside from cheap housing. Here, you can expect to enjoy a quality social life, lots of personal freedoms, and great job opportunities. It’s also hard to beat the fact that the Dutch are amongst some of the happiest people on the planet.
As a millennial, it seems that Barcelona offers it all. From stunning beaches and a rich party culture to excellent cuisine and one of the best startup scenes in Europe, Barcelona is a millennial’s paradise.
Berlin’s topped the list of the best cities for millennials for years, fluctuating between the first and second spot for the last year or two. An unbeatable nightlife paired with pretty liberal views make Berlin extremely attractive for millennials, with factor hurting its ranking being the cold winters.
Whatever they put in the water down in Texas sure is working on millennials. This southern state is hot, hot, hot when it comes to attracting young 20-somethings. When ranked for job growth, total employment, cost of living, quality of life, fun index and affordability, Dallas beat out nearly every other city in America.
Funky festivals, a raging nightlife, and lots of tolerance for immigrants make Montreal the best city in Canada for millennials. A great healthcare system and generally welcoming people are both attractive to millennials, who thought this was the third-best city in the world for them.
Perth is not only the friendliest city in Australia, but it’s also the best city in the world for expats. It’s hard not to feel tempted to pack up your bags and move to Perth when you think about the endless amount of sunshine you’ll find here. Millennials also noted that, for the wages they earn, housing here is affordable. No wonder the quality of life is so high.
The best city in the world for millennials in 2020 is Austin, Texas. Austin is a melting pot of all of the perfect conditions that millennials look for in a city – trendy cafes and bars, great job opportunities, awesome people, and a high interest in entrepreneurship. Bars and restaurants cater to millennial trends, and the city’s been able to maintain its hometown vibes, which sets it way above other cities in the States.