You want city living without the city prices, and that’s reasonable. It’s costly in New York and San Francisco, and most millennials who move to major metropolitan areas spend the majority of their income on rent — if they can afford rent at all. But you have options, and you don’t have to compromise. To find the most affordable cities for millennials like yourself, you just have to look between the coasts.
If you like the sights and sounds of a city lifestyle, the U.S. is full of affordable cities you might not have considered. They don’t boast the Empire State Building or the Golden Gate Bridge, but they have their own unique appeal you can’t find elsewhere. You’ll never know unless you look.
We’ve made that task far more manageable by compiling a list of the ten most affordable cities for millennials. From Boise to Des Moines, the United States is a vast country full of opportunity.
1. Omaha, Nebraska
With its charming designation of “Silicon Prairie,” Omaha, Nebraska, is home to a number of promising tech startups. You don’t have to work in technology to appreciate Omaha’s potential, however, and the eight Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the area reflect its robust economy.
Beyond its appeal to young professionals, Omaha is also a smart place to raise a family. Millennial couples searching for a new home might find affordable properties in the area, and its overall safety and range of education programs are ideal for young children. Planting your roots in the Silicon Prairie gives you many opportunities to create a happy life.
- Median Home Price: $165,667
- Median Monthly Rent: $833
2. Boise, Idaho
If you enjoy the lifestyle a city provides but also appreciate the beauty and majesty of nature, Boise has a perfect balance. It’s on the border between the urban and natural world, with captivating views of a distant mountain range — and the impressive scenery is far from the best part.
Those planning to work in government will enjoy the spectrum of opportunities they’ll find in Boise, which is home to many of the state’s agencies. It also accommodates a growing technology sector, and residents in healthcare can often find employment at one of several large hospitals.
Some statistics are:
- Median Home Price: $221,475
- Median Monthly Rent: $842
3. Madison, Wisconsin
Foodies who want a taste of something different will find it in Madison, Wisconsin, where the food culture is a mix of fine dining and farmer’s markets. A couple can reserve a table for two at an upper-class establishment, or just as easily browse local produce, sorting through apples and zucchini.
Food isn’t everything, of course. Above all, Madison has a bustling economy supported by the healthcare, information technology and manufacturing industries. You might find an opening at the University of Wisconsin with the right qualifications, so you have no shortage of options when pursuing your career in the area.
Here’s a breakdown of some Madison stats:
- Median Home Price: $238,375
- Median Monthly Rent: $919
4. Des Moines, Iowa
Hip and full of personality, Des Moines is excellent for young professionals who want to network with people their own age. It has trendy bars and interesting shops, and for the naturalists, there are bike trails, parks and lakes. With so many things to see and do, you’ll always have something on your agenda.
Des Moines is a particularly attractive city if you’re involved in the insurance industry. Allied Insurance and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield are only two of 80 insurance companies in the area. Considering the career opportunities and increasingly diverse culture in Des Moines, it’s an excellent choice for any young professional. Plus, its low cost of living firmly plants it in this list of most affordable cities for millennials.
Des Moines has:
- Median Home Price: $181,217
- Median Monthly Rent: $831
5. Charlotte, North Carolina
Young people are flocking to Charlotte, so it’s not likely to surprise you that its one of the most affordable cities for millennials. But you’ll find people from all walks of life here, drawn to the city for many reasons. While some are interested in the NASCAR and motorsports culture of the area, others are attracted to its high-energy hustle and bustle. Whatever you’re looking for, Charlotte has a southern charm that’s impossible to deny.
Plus, one of the largest financial hubs in the country, Charlotte also provides a platform for young professionals looking to advance in their careers. Wells Fargo has several of their major offices in the city, and Bank of America has its headquarters there. If you’re in finances and into race cars, Charlotte might be the place for you.
Some stats about Charlotte include:
- Median Home Price: $200,942
- Median Monthly Rent: $893
6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Steel city may have reeled from the loss of the steel industry a few decades back, but its comeback is exciting to see. Now, tech, health care and other diverse markets are helping mold Pittsburgh into one of the most affordable cities for millennials. Economic opportunities abound with one of the most affordable housing markets in the country and growing career options.
Pittsburgh has a lot of trendy attractions to go along with its blue-collar roots. Famous for its delicious Polish-inspired cuisine, the city has since expanded to feature restaurants and breweries with a wide variety of creative dining options. And with sports, music and events throughout the year, millennials can look forward to the city’s continued revival.
- Median Home Price: $137,550
- Median Monthly Rent: $749
7. Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota
Two cities for the price of one — what could be a better deal? Millennials will find job outlook promising, with business, finance, and engineering opportunities all growing in the area. And with two unique downtown centers, there is a wealth of cultural opportunities for those looking for an exciting city without the coastal prices.
Sure, millennials have to be prepared for a rough winter. But it’s easy to find activities year-round, between the beautiful natural attractions of Minnesota and the Twin Cities’ growing city scene.
Despite consistent rent growth, Minneapolis and St. Paul continue to offer affordable apartments, especially when compared to pricier Midwestern cities like Chicago. In May 2019, the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,367 in Minneapolis and $1,058 in St. Paul. Here’s some more housing information:
- Median Home Price: $237,367
8. Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is known for being a college city, but it’s not just Ohio State (sorry, THE Ohio State University) grads who can take advantage of this prosperous area. This Ohio city has burst onto the scene as one of the most affordable cities for millennials due to its growing professional opportunities and affordable housing rates.
Columbus is trendy, too; whether you want to tour the historic German village, check out a football game or head outdoors, the growth of millennial activity has helped Columbus create activities for residents with a variety of interests.
Some statistics include:
- Median Home Price: $171,075
- Median Monthly Rent: $855
9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Millennials who are seeking true Western roots without complete country isolation will find Oklahoma City a growing metro to watch. The city added 8,500 new jobs in 2017, and while the most prominent industries involve natural gas, oil, and livestock, millennials will increasingly find more cosmopolitan opportunities as well.
Many of the things to experience as a resident of Oklahoma city involve the city’s outdoor, Western heritage. If you would find joy in the Horse Show Capital of the World, exploring cowboy history, and trying a variety of restaurants in the heart of the city, then this might be the place for you to consider. And the best part? It’s super affordable.
Take a look:
- Median Home Price: $150,533
- Median Monthly Rent: $800
10. Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis has long attracted young professionals. With a combination of affordable Midwestern living and bustling urban experiences, it’s no wonder the city is among the most affordable cities for millennials. Recent boosts in opportunities have come from the expansion of companies like Salesforce and Infosys into the metro area, and Indianapolis boasted full employment in recent years.
Indianapolis has a walkable, robust downtown center with a variety of nightlife activities and cultural events. Whether millennials enjoy the beauty of nearby state parks or browsing the booming local businesses along Mass Ave, there’s no doubt this city has earned its place on this list.
- Median Home Price: $162,700 (Zillow)
- Median Monthly Rent: $828
11. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is located almost smack-dab in the center of the U.S., and its family-friendly reputation has long made it a Midwestern city that residents value highly. Beyond its affordability, the city also offers plenty of career opportunities. It’s currently the home of 19 Fortune 1000 companies and is a growing hub for both agriculture and biotechnology. St. Louis is home to plenty of blue-collar jobs, as well, being a major manufacturing center.
This city has a great combination of arts & culture, sports and country perks for its residents. Obviously, you’ll want to check out the famous Gateway Arch. But you can also catch a Cardinals game, head to Six Flags St. Louis, spend a day at the zoo or enjoy a night out in downtown St. Louis’ entertainment district.
- Median Home Price: $116,400 (Zillow)
- Median Monthly Rent: $858
12. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville has a higher profile than some of the cities on this list, which bumps up its housing prices somewhat. But it still has major savings opportunities for Millennials — without sacrificing any of the fun that comes with living in one of the coolest cities in the States. Still, if your dream is to live here, you’ll want to act sooner rather than later. Nashville is predicted to see a more competitive housing market and higher prices in years to come.
Nashville may be known as Music City, but its biggest industries are education and health care, followed by business and hospitality. Professionals can find a wide range of opportunities, allowing them to earn a competitive income while enjoying a city more cost-effective than Atlanta, Cleveland and other comparable metros.
- Median Home Price: $262,500 (Zillow)
- Median Monthly Rent: $951
13. Buffalo, New York
Upstate New York is the perfect location for cost-concerned residents who can handle some snowfall. While Buffalo may only make the news for its lake effect snow, there’s much more going on in this urban center than Americans may think. It’s a growing center for technology and research, partially thanks to the University at Buffalo’s large campus. There are a good mix of opportunities for young professionals who’d like to invest in property of their own.
Many find Buffalo a haven for great food, with plenty of opportunities to find out which restaurant serves up the best Buffalo wings. Beyond that, proximity to Niagara Falls and Toronto allows for great daytrips and weekend getaways. Winter sports fans will find plenty of opportunities to visit nearby slopes and attend Sabres hockey games for some weekend cheer.
- Median Home Price: $84,800 (Zillow)
- Median Monthly Rent: $763
14. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana travelers most frequently stop at New Orleans, but potential residents shouldn’t sleep on Baton Rouge. Located right on the Mississippi River, this region has a little bit of everything and a lot of culture to explore. The city is home to thriving businesses in manufacturing, aerospace infrastructure and agribusiness. But like any metro center, opportunities are available in a wider range of blue collar and professional careers.
If you have an interest in history, you’ll find no shortage of museums and historical sites detailing the often complex past of Baton Rouge. For a day out, you can enjoy the art & science museum, great food and alcohol or a range of outdoor activities.
- Median Home Price: $163,500 (Zillow)
- Median Monthly Rent: $873
Most Affordable Cities For Millennials
Moving isn’t always easy, but your budget shouldn’t hold you back. You deserve to enjoy the lifestyle you want for yourself, and you have options. This article only lists ten. Although they’re all excellent, there are others out there, and trends changing all the time. Do your research and visit different cities to find the place that calls out to you.
This list will be periodically updated! Think your city should be considered among the most affordable cities for millennials? Contact me and I’ll check it out!