Where to Live in Your 30s: 10 Best Places for Young Professionals

The city you call home can shape every corner of your life. From job prospects and healthcare facilities to the odds of owning a home or meeting your soulmate, our environment plays a pivotal role.

Today, there’s a substantial chunk of 30-somethings peppering our nation’s population – and this isn’t limited to just locals. With the convenience of air travel, the rise of remote work, and new digital nomad visas, a lot of young pros are packing their bags and exploring international shores.

The life of a typical 30-year-old isn’t what it used to be four decades ago. While some cities can be stifling, others open up a world of opportunities. Imagine living in a place where the cost of living doesn’t break the bank, where you can send your kid to a great school without splurging your savings, where jobs are plentiful and salaries are tempting, and where you can spend a weekend hiking or at a swanky cafe after enjoying a full maternity or paternity leave. That’s the dream, right?

Taking all these factors and more into account, we’ve drummed up a list of the top ten cities where being in your 30s feels just right. Stay tuned!

10 Best Places for Young Professionals

1. Denver, Colorado

Denver’s buzzing with a young and energetic vibe, with about a quarter of its folks aged between 27 and 42. In 2019, it was even the second top pick for millennials. What’s the charm? Well, imagine chilling with a craft beer in hand after a day of hiking, all while being surrounded by those mesmerizing mountains. Plus, Denver’s international airport and robust job market in tech and energy sectors are huge magnets for the young crowd.

Gretchen Rosenberg, the head honcho at Kentwood Real Estate, dished out to Travel + Leisure that many young professionals are flocking to Colorado, and they’re here to stay. Sure, diving into Denver’s housing market can be a tad pricey (with the median home price in February 2023 being $560,000), but don’t sweat it. The suburbs offer some wallet-friendly alternatives.

Considering buying your first nest in Denver? Well, here’s another nudge: Rosenberg mentions that Denver’s property taxes won’t make your wallet cry, especially compared to other cities of its stature. So, if you’re on the hunt for a place that offers a blend of fun, sunshine, and those postcard-perfect mountain views, Denver’s got your back!

2. New York City, New York

Hitting your 30s and looking for the perfect place to juggle growth in your career and life’s adventures? Matthew Hughes, a broker from Brown Harris Stevens, thinks there’s no place quite like New York City.

NYC is a melting pot of cultures, and its entertainment scene is top-tier. A survey from MoneyNerd even placed it in the global top five cities for nailing that work-life balance. It doesn’t just stop at fun and games – NYC is a powerhouse for job opportunities and offers handsome salaries to boot. But, here’s the catch: its real estate prices can give you a bit of sticker shock.

But Hughes says, “Don’t write off NYC just yet!” While Manhattan might make your wallet wince, there are gorgeous, homely spots in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. And if you’re thinking long-term, Hughes is confident that investing in NYC property is a smart move. After all, the city’s real estate market has a reputation for bouncing back, no matter what.

3. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich consistently gets top marks for balancing work and play, and it’s easy to see why. With an average yearly income of $82,191, folks here aren’t just earning well; they’re genuinely happy, as per recent polls. Trust the Swiss to excel in health care and infrastructure, and provide abundant job opportunities across diverse sectors. And for those concerned about safety? Zurich has got you covered.

But the real icing on the cake for many is the great outdoors. Think of weekends filled with hikes, bike rides, mountain treks, or swooshing down ski slopes. For those with a wanderlust itch, Zurich’s central location means you’re just a short flight away from Europe’s other hotspots.

Oh, and here’s an interesting tidbit: back in 2021, a significant chunk of Zurich’s populace was rocking their 30s. Just shows it’s the place to be, doesn’t it?

4. Austin, Texas

Austin seems to be the hotspot for folks in their 30s. The average age? Just about 35.8 years. And if we look back to 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau data showed that Austin was a millennial favorite among U.S. cities. Shay Millheiser from Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty in Austin breaks down the appeal: “From foot-tapping music and rib-tickling comedy to delicious food, inspiring art, thrilling sports, and the allure of the great outdoors – Austin’s got it all. And for those who can’t resist the grind, it’s a haven for workaholics too.”

If you’re getting those settling-down vibes, Austin’s housing market won’t have you clutching your wallet in terror. Shay assures, “Looking for a home here? There’s something for every budget. Whether you want to be in the thick of it or prefer the quiet of the suburbs, you’re never too far from the city’s heartbeat.” While Zillow pegs the median home value in Austin at $561,613, Shay points out that suburb prices hover more around the $350,000 mark.

5. Copenhagen, Denmark

Youngsters are flocking to the Danish capital, and it’s easy to see why. Copenhagen’s safe streets, top-notch healthcare, pocket-friendly public transport, and stellar education system tick a lot of boxes. Plus, here’s a fun fact: the Danes are among the happiest folks globally. And who wouldn’t be, when you work a breezy average of just about 26 hours a week and enjoy a generous 25 days of vacation annually, not even counting public holidays?

For those planning families or already in the parenting game, Copenhagen’s got you covered. By the country’s law, new parents can revel in an entire year (yep, 52 weeks!) of parental leave. And no need to fret about childcare costs: kindergarten tuition caps at a mere equivalent of $590 in Danish krone.

When it’s time to clock off or enjoy the weekend, locals are spoilt for choice. Think lush parks, intriguing museums, and drool-worthy restaurants. Oh, and if you’re into cycling, you’re in luck. Copenhagen is a cyclist’s dream city.

6. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a catch, especially for those hitting their stride in their 30s. This North American gem rolls out the welcome mat with top-notch health care, stellar education, promising job prospects, and a safety record that’ll let you sleep soundly. Not to mention, the arts and entertainment scene here? Simply world-class. And if you’re thinking about family, Canada’s got your back with its generous parental leave.

But beyond the perks, Vancouver’s beauty is breathtaking – think majestic North Shore Mountains paired with the tranquil vibes of the Pacific Ocean.

Dive deeper into the city’s fabric, and you’ll discover its booming tech scene. “We’ve got everything from sprouting startups to tech giants like Microsoft, E.A., and Amazon laying down roots here,” says Jonathan Cooper from Macdonald Real Estate Group. And if you’re scouting for a place to live that’s both hip and practical, he recommends neighborhoods like Mount Pleasant, Fraser Street, and Yaletown.

7. Portland, Oregon

If you’re in your 30s and looking for a vibrant place to call home, the Pacific Northwest should be on your radar. In fact, Portland, with its laid-back vibe and scenic beauty, has become a favorite for many in this age bracket; they make up nearly a third of the city’s population.

Kathryne Psihogios sums it up perfectly, “Portland’s got this friendly feel, whether you’re a pet owner, a cyclist, or raising kids. Plus, think about the natural wonders we’re surrounded by — mountains, the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon coast. The outdoorsy types? They’re spoilt for choice here with activities like fishing, camping, hiking, and skiing.”

What’s more, while cities on the West Coast are notorious for sky-high real estate prices, Portland stands out. First-time home buyers, especially millennials, have found it much easier to get a foot on the property ladder. The number of young homeowners here has skyrocketed by 146 percent in just half a decade!

Aimee Virnig from Windermere Real Estate gives the scoop on the housing scene: “If you’ve got a good budget, neighborhoods like Irvington, Laurelhurst, Alameda, Hawthorne, and Sellwood are popular. But let’s face it, not everyone’s rolling in dough. Many first-time buyers have more constraints, focusing on essentials like home size, yard space, and location. In that case, areas like Cully and Roseway in Northeast Portland offer charming older homes, while Parkrose and Argay Terrace in the outer Northeast have some cool mid-century houses on spacious lots.

8. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm often finds its way to the top of global “quality of life” lists. And it’s not just because of its robust economy or impressive public transport. This city is lush with green parks, top-tier healthcare, and educational offerings. And for those who have a soft spot for history and art? Stockholm, with its royal roots and a plethora of cultural treasures, won’t disappoint.

Anders Elbe from Snellman Sotheby’s International Realty shared his take: “The natural beauty of Stockholm is just spellbinding. Think parks, lakes, and forests perfect for your next hike, bike ride, or swim. And when winter hits? The city turns into a snowy wonderland offering ice skating, skiing, and other frosty adventures.”

Considering planting roots in Stockholm? Anders says the city’s real estate scene is pretty steady, making it a smart spot for long-term investment. To give you an idea: a typical family home here could set you back around 6.8 million SEK, which is about $659,000 USD. But given the city’s offerings, many would say it’s worth every krona!

9. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. isn’t just a political hub; it’s quickly becoming a hotspot for the young and ambitious. With entire neighborhoods springing to life and evolving, it’s evident the capital has a fresh vibe. And for the 30-something crowd? The robust job market is a huge draw, promising a fulfilling lifestyle.

Beyond work, D.C. promises fun throughout the year. Picture this: summertime beach getaways to Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina. As the chill of winter rolls in, the mountains of West Virginia and Pennsylvania beckon with their snowy slopes, perfect for skiing and snowboarding.

Andrew Pariser from Long & Foster Real Estate weighs in: “If you’re in your 30s and scouting for a place to buy your first home, D.C. is a solid choice. Plus, considering it’s the heartbeat of the nation, property values here seem to stay pretty resilient, avoiding the wild ups and downs you might find elsewhere.

10. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Ranking at #3 for Best Places in 2023-2024, Raleigh and Durham boast a metro population of over 2 million. With a median home price sitting at $436,616 and folks earning an average annual salary of $61,759, the vibe here skews youthful with a median age of 37.5.

What makes this area stand out? For starters, it’s an educational hub. With institutions like Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, it’s no surprise that recent graduates flock here. These institutions aren’t just great for studying; they offer numerous job opportunities in education and research.

Even with its rising profile, Raleigh and Durham manage to maintain an appealing cost of living. Here’s a fun fact: Only about 23.24% of a household’s median income goes toward covering housing expenses. So, if you’re a young professional on the lookout for affordability coupled with opportunity, this might just be your next stop!

In conclusion

The ideal destinations for young professionals seamlessly blend economic opportunity with lifestyle allure. From cities boasting top-tier educational institutions and burgeoning tech hubs to those offering affordable housing and vibrant cultural scenes, the choices are diverse. For young trailblazers eager to make their mark, selecting the right city can be a game-changer. As urban landscapes evolve, it’s essential to stay updated on emerging hotspots and trends. For those on the cusp of the next big career move or looking for a fresh start, these best places offer a promising mix of professional growth and personal fulfillment. Dive deep, research, and find that perfect city to call your professional home.

FAQs: Best Places for Young Professionals

What defines a city as one of the best places for young professionals?

Cities ideal for young professionals often offer a blend of job opportunities, affordable living, cultural activities, and a conducive environment for networking and personal growth.

Which cities are emerging as top choices for young professionals in recent years?

While traditional favorites like New York and San Francisco remain popular, cities such as Austin, Raleigh, and Denver are emerging as favorites due to their blend of opportunities and work-life balance.

How important is the cost of living when considering a move for career growth?

While job opportunities are crucial, an affordable cost of living ensures that young professionals can save, invest, and enjoy a quality lifestyle. It’s essential to weigh salary potential against living expenses.

Are tech hubs the only cities ideal for young professionals?

No, while tech hubs offer numerous job opportunities, other cities with diverse industries, educational institutions, and cultural hubs also attract young talent.

How do recreational activities and local culture impact the attractiveness of a city for young professionals?

A vibrant local culture and recreational options enhance work-life balance, making a city more appealing for long-term living and networking outside of work.

Is it essential to consider future job market trends when choosing a city for career growth?

Absolutely. It’s crucial to research potential industry growth, city development plans, and emerging sectors to ensure sustained opportunities in the chosen city.

Which cities are best for young professionals with families or those considering starting one?

Cities that offer good schools, family-friendly activities, affordable childcare, and generous parental leave policies tend to be more attractive for young professionals with families.

How do transportation and infrastructure factor into the best cities for young professionals?

Efficient public transportation, well-maintained infrastructure, and proximity to other major cities or attractions can significantly enhance the appeal of a city for young professionals, affecting daily commutes and weekend getaways.


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