10 Best Cities For Young Professionals Seeking Work-Life Balance

InvestmentZen ranked over 500 areas in the U.S. to determine which cities offer the most perks for young professionals.

10 Best Cities For Young Professionals Seeking Work-Life Balance

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Many young professionals are eager to begin a financially independent lifestyle. With a new paycheck, saving, spending and lifestyle habits are likely to evolve. For most people starting off a new career, it’s important to have discretionary income for enjoying life outside of work. Living in a city large enough to offer activities and entertainment, with minimal use of a car can also be an added benefit.

By understanding these characteristics, we observed these national averages:

  • United States unemployment rate for metropolitan areas, according to BLS, is 4.1%
  • United States average rent index, according to Zillow, is $1,426
  • United States annual mean wage, according to BLS, is $49,630
  • According to WalkScore data, the average WalkScore in the U.S. is 41.3.

Then we asked ourselves, which cities can beat the averages and provide extra incentive for young professionals?

InvestmentZen was able to gather and analyze data from a number of sources to determine which 10 cities have the best stats for a strong work-life balance.

Methodology:

We used a weighted average to compared unemployment rate, walkability score, Zillow Rent Index, the annual mean wage for all occupations, and population for over 500 U.S. cities to determine which had the best balance of work life balance. These indicators prove to be the making for some of the best cities in the U.S. for young professionals.

These cities turned out to be great for young professionals who are looking to enhance their quality of life.

10. Aurora, CO

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
  • Walkability Score: 43
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,788
  • Annual Mean Wage: $55,910

The second city in Colorado to make the list (and the third most populous city in Colorado)  Aurora is home to many niche industries. While there are still more traditional business service suppliers, aerospace industries and bioscience firms are a major part of the economy in Aurora.

9. Oakland, CA

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
  • Walkability Score: 72
  • Zillow Rent Index: $2,999
  • Annual Mean Wage: $69,110

With lower rent than sister city, San Francisco, residents of Oakland have the opportunity to work in San Francisco and commute back home to a less expensive apartment in Oakland (though the wages and unemployment rates are similar in both cities).

8. Milwaukee, WI

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
  • Walkability Score: 62
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,136
  • Annual Mean Wage: $49,350

Milwaukee is the second city in Wisconsin to make this list. The primary occupation groups in Milwaukee, according to BLS, are production jobs like machine operators and metal and plastic workers. Other heavily staffed industries are office and administration staff. The higher than average walkability score and relatively low rent are two contributing factors that bring Milwaukee to the list.

7. Detroit, MI

  • Unemployment Rate: 4%
  • Walkability Score: 55
  • Zillow Rent Index: $627
  • Annual Mean Wage: $50, 960

Though the unemployment rate in Detroit is still high, the city is coming back from its collapse. Detroit is becoming a hub for artists, architects, and engineer. Billions of dollars of construction projects have been spent to rebuild infrastructure, including transportation which is making the city more accessible and attractive to many young professionals.

6. San Francisco, CA

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
  • Walkability Score: 86
  • Zillow Rent Index: $4,207
  • Annual Mean Wage: $69,110

Even with the sky-high rent index, the wages, walkability and unemployment rate are enough to boost San Francisco to the 6th spot on the list. It’s no secret that the tech industry is booming in San Francisco. The economy in the bay area has outpaced the rest of the state, and the country, in economic growth for the last five years.

5. St. Paul, MN

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Walkability Score: 59
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,232.50
  • Annual Mean Wage: $55,010

Just across the river from the larger city of Minneapolis, St. Paul has grown in size over the last couple of years. New music venues, restaurants and night spots are popping up making the city an affordable but fun option for young professionals. The nicely balanced mean wage to rent index allows young professionals to life affordably and enjoy a nice work-life balance.

4. Tacoma, WA

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
  • Walkability Score: 53
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,155
  • Annual Mean Wage: $61,170

Tacoma has the second highest annual mean wage on this list, and with a zero percent income tax in the state of Washington, stretching a paycheck can also help pad discretionary income for young professionals.

3. Denver, CO

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
  • Walkability Score: 61
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,582
  • Annual Mean Wage: $55,910

Denver’s population has grown since 2010 by more than 93,000 (15.5%), largely due to a rise of newcomers headed to the mile-high city. One of the continually growing industries in Denver is its microbrew and craft beer scene, which can be a nice career path or fun extracurricular in this city.

2. Madison, WI

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
  • Walkability Score: 49
  • Zillow Rent Index: $1,075
  • Annual Mean Wage: $50,830

Madison is a rapidly growing city. Between 2015 and 2016 Madison grew more than any other city in Wisconsin. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Madison surpassed a quarter million residents in the last year. According to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, they accredit the growth to economic opportunity, livability factors and accessibility to amenities. It’s also notable that 55.1% of adults aged 25 and older have at least a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

1. Des Moines, IA

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
  • Walkability Score: 45
  • Zillow Rent Index: $814.50
  • Annual Mean Wage: $49,420

The number one city on this list has exceptionally low unemployment and moderate wages. Another influential marker for Des Moines is the low rent – of the ten cities to rank on this list, Des Moines has the lowest rent.

 

Click here for a full, ranked list of data (including metros under a population of 200,000).

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