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The 20 Best Cities In America To Be Young, Broke, And Single

Sure, there’s plenty of action in New York and San Francisco, but who can afford the rent? We set out to find cool up-and-coming American cities with enough young people to make them interesting, good jobs, low costs of living and — oh, yes — plenty of watering holes. We give you the best cities for the young, broke, and single.

The 20 best cities in America to be young, broke and single.

We’ve seen all sorts of top 10 cities lists: The 10 best places to get a job, own a home, start a family, hit the lottery … Now, it’s time for a list that really matters — especially to Money Under 30 readers. We present to you our first-ever “Best Cities in America to be Young, Broke, and Single.”

How does a city make the cut, you might wonder? We compiled our roll call using metrics that matter to young professionals trying to simultaneously launch a career, find love, and stretch a still-meager paycheck: cheap food, cheap beer and cheap thrills, for starters. We looked at a city’s number of bars (after downing a microbrew, of course). Then we hit the lows (unemployment, cost of living) and the highs (numbers of fellow singles and young(er) adults, ages 18-44).

The result could either serve as a map for the wackiest road trip you’ve ever taken or a thought-provoking impetus for pulling up stakes and trying out a new home base. Think we got it wrong? Or would you simply like to supplement our findings? We’d love to hear your ideas, field notes and suggestions for cities that should (or shouldn’t) make this list in the comments. Although our list is based on real Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, we don’t claim our results as wholly scientific. Still, the ensuing debate should be fun.

By the way my home town, Chicago, didn’t even make the top 20, let alone the top 10. And I can’t say that I disagree: It costs $8 to park for one hour at a meter downtown, thanks to a botched privatization deal by our former mayor. The Cubs look poised to go another century without a World Series appearance. And, as of press time, our summer has been cold and wet, after a non-existent spring and a winter that was one of our foulest ever.

As everyone knows, it’s a lot more fun to be young, broke, and single when the weather’s warm. (You’ll see quite a few sunny locales on this list. Who needs the added expense of a winter wardrobe?)

The cities, starting at the bottom of our top 10, are:

10: Oklahoma City, Okla.

Oklahoma City: Courtesy of the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau

Too often, this neck of the woods only makes headlines for its twisters and NBA franchise. Still, the University of Oklahoma rests just a stone’s throw away in Norman. And if you love warm weather, the average yearly temperature is 72, with an average high of 50 in January. (Of course, the occasional tornado is the tradeoff.) The local population of 580,000 has grown by 10 percent or more for three consecutive census periods, too. Clearly, something’s happening that’s attracting the young, broke, and single — YBS for short.

Jobbing it: Employment prospects are good in the local mainstays, the federal government and the energy industry. (Oil derricks even dot the capitol grounds.) But Oklahoma City also has a growing info-tech sector that attracts young workers.

Did you know: The first-ever parking meter was installed here in 1935. So that’s what got the whole parking meter mess in Chicago started.

9: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

Seattle: Courtesy of David Herrera (dherrera_96), on Flickr

As that college-rock hero of yesteryear Robyn Hitchcock once sang, “Viva! Sea-Tac.” Home of the Space Needle, Microsoft, Jimi Hendrix and grunge rock, Seattle and its environs have low rents, superb scenery, and hundreds of web startup wheeler-dealers hoping to follow in Bill Gates’s footsteps. It’s a also a smiley-face place, as the famous Happy Face logo was designed by a Seattle ad agency in 1966. And as you might’ve guessed for the home base of Starbucks, it’s got a healthy overabundance of coffee shops, where the price of a mocha can buy you some telecommuting “office space” for an afternoon.

Jobbing it: No matter how hard Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tries to shipwreck his company, the software juggernaut is still hiring, and Seattle has become the focal point of an entrepreneurial/high-tech triangle that includes Portland, Ore., and Bend, Ore., to the south.

Did you know:  Although Seattle has a reputation for being rainy, that’s more a myth perpetuated by the locals who want to keep the kooks out. In fact, Seattle sells more sunglasses per year than any other major city in the nation.

8: Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines: Courtesy of the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau

Des Moines (a French phrase meaning “of the monks”) has its quirky charm. It’s the home of this year’s American Oatmeal Association national convention, and the place where Ozzy Osbourne bit off a bat’s head in concert. But for the YBS, this city of 580,000 is a serious place to settle down. Forbes magazine ranked Des Moines as the “Best Place for Business” in 2010 and no. 1 among “America’s Best Cities for Young Professionals” in 2011. As Forbes staffer Morgan Brennan writes, “Des Moines boasts a low 5.8 percent unemployment rate (sixth lowest of the 100 cities we studied) and healthy projected job growth rates of 0.97 percent  in 2011 and 2.86 percent in 2012.”

Jobbing it: Des Moines is a major center for the insurance industry and also has a sizable financial services base. Athene (a top insurance firm with 33,000 agents) and the Principal Financial Group are among the big companies headquartered there.

Did you know: Des Moines is boring, you say? How wrong you are, and here’s proof: desmoinesisnotboring.com.

7: New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner, La.

New Orleans

Robust and mostly recovered from Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and its surrounding area have a lot going for them. The French Quarter is truly a trip back in time to eighteenth-century Europe, and the Cajun cuisine and jazz music reign without parallel. But can you find work there? Mais oui, mes amis: If you want to get into film, for example, know that tax incentives in place since 2002 have led to the Crescent City earning the nickname “Hollywood South.” Tulane University is also an academic hub that adds to the young adult influx; it employs close to 4,000 people.

Jobbing it: New Orleans’s port is the fifth-largest in the US. The oil industry has a significant presence here, and the entertainment and restaurants are world famous. Tourism also fuels the city’s economy (the hospitality industry employs more than 85,000 people) making it New Orleans’s top economic engine.

Did you know: New Orleans isn’t just the birthplace of jazz, but poker as well. The card game was reportedly invented there in the 1820s. As they say come Mardi Gras, Laissez les bon temps rouler! And let the chips fall where they may.

6: Omaha, Neb.

Courtesy of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

Somewhere Warren Buffet is smiling, as his home turf makes a big list for some reason other than the fact he lives there. The happy juxtaposition that allows billionaires and broke young adults to coexist falls to several factors. First off, Omaha is home to a very cool music scene for a city of just 400,000. (Bright Eyes and pop producer Terry Lewis are both Omaha products.) Also, Omaha has revitalized its downtown and gotten smart about diversifying its employment base beyond the industries that first built the city.

Jobbing it: Mutual of Omaha and ConAgra Foods remain two of Omaha’s top employers, and in 2001 Newsweek identified the city as one of the nation’s Top 10 high-tech havens — a sign the burg once known for livestock and insurance had entered the twenty-first century.

Did you know: Cool Stuff in Omaha sits high on the list of the nation’s great hippie/head shops, offering an eclectic variety of incense sticks, CDs, tie-dyed clothing and Halloween costume accessories. The city is also the birthplace of the Reuben sandwich, which makes sense if you get the munchies after using all that head shop gear you bought at Cool Stuff.

5: Baton Rouge, La.

Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge scores high on our list thanks to the strong community vibe perpetuated by students at Louisiana State University. It’s old (founded in 1699) and small (about 230,000), but Baton Rouge made the news after Hurricane Katrina as many displaced folks from New Orleans sought temporary refuge there and stayed. It’s downright subtropical there — the average high is 61 degrees in January — and the city was ranked in 2010 as a top 10 place for young adults by Portfolio magazine, and in the top five by Kiplinger.

Jobbing it: Kiplinger writes: “A major hub of the US oil industry, Baton Rouge has weathered the down economy better than many cities, and it continues to add workers at companies such as ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical, as well as in health care and information technology.”

Did you know: Baton Rouge means “red stick” in French. The city got its name from blood-drenched poles Native Americans used to hang bear heads and fish in various rituals. French explorers found these poles, and the informal name stuck.

4: Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio is one of the best cities for the young broke & single. Photo credit: Ed Gately.

It might sound like the middle of nowhere, but try telling that to the thousands of Ohio State University students and alumni who call this place home. Ohio State is the nation’s largest college campus, and its imprint is felt throughout this town of 800,000. Columbus seems to have weathered the recession well; prior to that, Columbus was ranked in 2006 as the seventh-strongest economy in the United States, according to Columbus Business First.

Jobbing it: Social media mavens might gravitate towards Improving Enterprises, a software development firm with offices in Columbus that was named the top place to work in the city in 2012.

Did you know:  If Ohio State attracts students to Columbus, we have a hunch about what keeps them there after graduation: The Bruce Lee Legends of Martial Arts Hall of Fame and Museum, of course. Eat your heart out, Hong Kong.

3: Durham, N.C.


Pretty much every city on our list has a major college fueling excitement and employment, and Durham is no exception. While Duke University is pricey, Durham itself is friendly on the wallet. It’s known as the City of Medicine and is famous for the Research Triangle Park, the world’s largest university-related research area. It also placed second on the aforementioned Forbes list of “America’s Best Cities for Young Professionals” in 2011, behind Des Moines.

Jobbing it: Research Triangle Park is home to research and development-related organizations such as IBM, Cisco Systems, Inc., the Research Triangle Institute, and Glaxo Wellcome. Get out that résumé.

Did you know: We imagine all those future doctors in Durham want to eat well. The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau boasts of Durham’s numerous gastronomical accolades including Bon Appetit’s 2008 prize for “foodiest small town in America” and the 2013 title of “tastiest town in the South” by Southern Living magazine. Nearly 40 Durham restaurants and chefs have earned similar mentions and write-ups in the foodie press.

2: Salt Lake City, Utah

Courtesy of Doug Kerr (Dougtone), on Flickr

No, that’s not a misprint: Salt Lake City ranks no. 2 on our list. It has a lot more going for it than Mormons, the first KFC franchise (1952), and a great big briny body of water. In fact, Mormons may someday soon become the minority, as the population of 190,000 is now 50 percent non-Mormon. (But, sadly, it’s not racially diverse, as African-Americans constitute less than 3 percent of the population.) What draws the YBS there? Mild winters and toasty summers help; it’s also LGBT-friendly (even if the rest of the state is not), and just elected its first gay mayor in 2015.

Jobbing it: CHG Healthcare is no. 3 on Fortune’s best places to work list for 2013, up from no. 9 in 2012. Employees of this medical staffing firm compete in talent shows, trivia contests, and activities like a Dress As Your Favorite President competition, Fortune reports.

Did you know: Salt Lake City has a law against carrying an unwrapped ukulele on the street. Honestly. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

1: Austin, Texas

Courtesy of Jeffrey W. Spencer, on Flickr

Now we’re talking, pardner. Bars, barbecue, and all manner of rebellious rock and country musicians help “Keep Austin Weird,” as the locals say. Rents are way low, especially if you’re used to living in a big city like Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York. The capital of the Lone Star State and home of the University of Texas’s flagship school, Austin has by some estimates more than 530 bars and restaurants, many of them along the 6th Street corridor. For a city of 820,000, that translates to one bar and eatery for every 1,500 people. Unemployment is also astonishingly low, at 5.1 percent in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Dallas, by comparison, is at 6.7 percent.)

Jobbing it: Could all those Austin bars and restaurants be hiring? The town goes nutty around the time of the SXSW music and tech festival in March. Trade, transportation, and utilities also employ a bulk of people, federal government statistics show.

Did you know: SXSW was one of the first mega-music festivals and still rocks after 25-plus years. In fact, it’s even gaining luster as a place for high-tech happenings, and a single showcase there can create instant buzz for any up-and-coming band (or tech startup).

The Full Top 20

Rank City No. of Bars % Pop 18-44 Avg Commute (Min) Unemployment Rank, % Single Rank, Cost of Living
1 Austin, TX 253 43.7 25.8 5.4 30 30
2 Salt Lake City, UT 114 40.5 22.7 5 82 12
3 Durham, NC 34 41.5 22.8 7 8 38
4 Columbus, OH 359 39.2 23.5 6.4 74 22
5 Baton Rouge, LA 111 39.1 25.3 5.5 30 35
6 Omaha, NE 276 37.3 20.1 4.6 118 5
7 New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner 390 36.9 25.2 5.9 10 40
8 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 167 37.7 19.6 5.5 142 15
9 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 420 39.3 27.6 6.7 22 76
10 Oklahoma City, OK 142 38.1 21.8 5 142 19
11 Houston, TX 620 39.2 27.7 6.3 90 23
12 Charleston-N, Charleston, SC 70 39.3 24.8 6.8 86 45
13 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA 225 39.6 34.5 5.5 30 79
14 Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI 528 36 22.9 8.4 20 55
15 Columbia, SC 56 38.9 23.8 7.4 52 50
16 San, Diego, CA 329 40.7 24.1 8 96 33
17 Orlando, FL 190 38.9 26.8 7.1 42 43
18 Boston, MA 489 37.8 29.2 6 30 77
19 Dallas, TX 489 39.3 26.6 6.3 114 21
20 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 396 37.5 24.9 5.5 66 63

Special thanks to freelance journalist Eric Kaplan for contributing to this article. Additional research by Deidre Fogg and Maria LaMagna. 


Photo credits: Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau; David Herrera/Seattle; Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau; Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau; NewOrleansOnline.com; VisitBatonRouge.com; Ed Gately/Columbus; Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau; Doug Kerr/Salt Lake City; Jeffrey W. Spencer/Austin.

Published or updated on June 17, 2013

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About Lou Carlozo

Based in Chicago, Lou Carlozo is a personal finance contributor for Reuters Money, a columnist with DealNews.com, and a former managing editor at AOL's WalletPop.com. Contact him with story ideas for Money Under 30 at feedbacker@aol.com, or follow him via LinkedIn and Twitter (@LouCarlozo63).


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Mazzy says:

    Yeah, umm. This list is horrendous. You should’ve also put that this is for people who want to live in hot, hellish places. I’ve never been a fan of the hot south or any of the other overrated cities. Maybe put in temperature as a quality trait since for me 40°F as an average is completely fine for me.

    Also, Seattle. Yeah, everyone’s trying to go there so maybe not the best for the broke. I live in Oregon so I’ve visited seattle quite a bit and I can say that the prices there are quite expensive for housing. The city is also way over crowded, so as fun as this city is, it’s not the most affordable. Don’t get me wrong though, washington was the only thing on this list that made sense to me. Washington and Oregon are definitely states that I’d recommend anyone live in.

  2. Simone says:

    I’m on board with the top 20. After living in Chicago for many years and spending a lot of time in NY and LA, I can say, if I live in a city with a multicultural happening vibe, good music, world class dinning and pay less than a grand for a one bedroom then sales tax under %10 is just a bonus. Make it a city near water that’s not freezing 9 months out of the year and I’d be happy to donate the cost of my heating bill to higher rent.

  3. Charlie_Foxtrot says:

    A lot of people in OKlahoma City, spend significant time in other parts of the US, and also in other global cities.

    You’ve no proof of this. None whatsoever. I live in midtown and know few people who ever made it outside of the state let alone the country.

  4. LB says:

    Find it interesting that the author of this article got the urban population of Oklahoma City completely wrong. It’s 861,505 with a metropolitan population of 1,296,565.

    On a different note When interacting with an individual from Oklahoma City, please do not start a sentence with “woah it must be completely different from here for you.” because it’s condenscending. A lot of people in OKlahoma City, spend significant time in other parts of the US, and also in other global cities. DC is not as impressive of a city compared to Tokyo, Shanghai, Istanbul, or even London. Just giving random people on the internet advice.

  5. TJ says:

    I wouldn’t say SLC has mild winters. Rather, there is plenty to do in the winter unlike other places that get lots of snow (think upper midwest) b/c of the nearby awesome mountains.

    Skiing ($200 season pass at Wolf Mtn), Sundance Film Festival (film tix are actually cheap and easy to get), sledding (free!), etc.

  6. Corie says:

    Please don’t come to Austin. Newcomers are hiking my rent up! Feel free to visit :).

  7. aaron says:

    My favorite part is how Milwaukee is 2nd in number of bars, to Houston. We have 528 to Houston’s 620. Houston has an area of 627 sq miles. Milwaukee… just 97 sq miles. Houston has 2.15 million people. Milwaukee? Oh yeah… 600,000.

    Come to Milwaukee everyone. The livin’s cheap and the beer is cheaper.

    inb4 “Miller lite sucks!” … we have much more to offer.

  8. Bryan says:

    Nationwide, Cardinal Health, Victoria’s Secret, AEP, Big Lots = all companies with HEADQUARTERS based in Columbus with $5B+ in revenue last year.

    Not to mention all the jobs that are associated with the monster that is The Ohio State University.

  9. Scott says:

    Going into my last year of my undergrad I have been looking at lists like these all summer and actually had Austin towards the top of my list. Didn’t know it was so over crowded and expensive. But Dallas is still my number one. And I would actually like some opinions from some people who live/have lived in the dallas area before.

    And to the person above^ I have lived in Oklahoma my entire life and it is not the worst weather ever. It’s windy, yes. There a lot of tornadoes but it’s not like every single one plows through OKC. Downtown OKC and Bricktown are a ton of fun and the Thunder are very fun to follow and games are a blast to go to. The cost of living is very low, shouldn’t be a factor. I grew up in Edmond, low cost of living, lovely city, but is just in my opinion a great place to raise a family, not move to if you’re single. I can barely stand being home for more than a few days simply because it is boring. But OKC is a ton of fun. The pic is from the river walk in bricktown which is lined with lots of fun bars and restaurants.

    • Charlie says:

      Scott, listen to my very closely: I’ve lived on all three coasts of the United States and have traveled extensively around the globe——I know what I’m talking about. You’re so typical of the locals in OKC who take everything so personally. I like your city but you’re not the be-all/end-all. Not by a long shot.

      South side between I-40 and Moore—-nuff said.

      You just recently got an NBA team and a renovated downtown and you think that’s great. Fine. But get over it already. Please realize that you’re just now catching up to the rest of the country so don’t get offended when we “outsiders” don’t fall over in amazement.

      • Scott says:

        Chris, learn how to spell, and quit talking to me like I am a child. I didn’t take anything personally nor did I state anything that said “You don’t know what you’re talking about” OR call you an “outsider”. I was simply saying the weather isn’t terrible, it is just unpredictable. And that you do not need to factor in heating and cooling costs when considering OKC because the cost of living is so low. And awesome bro, you’ve lived on all three coasts, congrats. I don’t care. I simply said the weather isn’t as bad as you implied then added in a few personal experiences of my own which were not directed towards you in any way what so ever. So pull the 10 foot pole out of your ass, because it’s looking like YOU are the one taking what I said personally. I was simply defending the city I have lived in my entire life as I’m sure the other locals were doing the same. Have a good one champ.

        • Charlie says:

          How can you compare your hometown to other areas when you’ve never lived anywhere else? How do you know what the heating/cooling costs are in other cities when you’ve lived in one place your whole life?

          Sorry Scott, but no one in their right mind comes to OKC because of the weather. No one is “attacking your city” either.

          Insecure much?

          • Scott says:

            I completely agree that no one moves to OKC because of the weather lol, I never even said anything remotely close to that. And I never said you were attacking my city. I’m not insecure I love OKC. However I’m ready to move out of it when I graduate (as probably lots of other people who live in a city their entire lives would do the same). And if you look at what I just said up there ^, I didn’t say ANY of those things you just mentioned, not one. I simply said OKC is fun, and inexpensive. Never compared it to anywhere else or said it was superior to anywhere else. I’m excited to get out somewhere else. Any suggestions?

  10. Michael says:

    Austin does not have the Texas charm that the rest of the state does, and if this site took some time to actually do some research, they would quickly learn that it’s the most expensive Texas city to rent in and the rental turnover rate is through the roof. It’s quickly getting overcrowded, the music scene is overrated, the bars are not cheap (unless you want to hang out with broke college students on dirty 6th) the traffic stinks and there’s really nothing “weird” about it, except for the smelly hippies. I am happily moving out by the end of the year :)

    • B-EZ says:

      “rent is through the roof” I keep hearing this refrain from austin posters, if you’re talking abou $1000-1200 for living downtown, then you’re not going to deter people coming from california, chicago, ny, seattle, and boston w/ those numbers. For precisely the reason you think your rent is through the roof is what makes it attractive to people from around the country.

  11. JohnDoeIII says:

    As a resident of Louisiana, I can say that Kiplinger is wrong. Baton Rouge may be a minor oilfield hub (even though I’ve never heard of this) Lafayette and Houston are the two major oilfield hubs. New Orleans use to be, but not so much anymore. Of course most of the oilfield have their offices in Lafayette & Houston, but they all have their shops in places like Morgan City, Houma, Belle Chasse (to an extent) and Venice.

  12. Tom says:


  13. Charlie says:

    And if you love warm weather, the average yearly temperature is 72, with an average high of 50 in January. (Of course, the occasional tornado is the tradeoff.)

    Do not move to OKC for the weather. This article is incredibly misleading. I’ve lived on all three coasts and OKC has—–by far—–the worst weather out of all the places I’ve lived. The summers are hot and humid with temperatures going well above 100 during some summers. Winters are cold with wind chills routinely dropping well below freezing. And the occasional tornado? Doed the writer of this article ever watch the news? Wow!

    You simply must factor in heating and cooling costs when considering OKC.

  14. Katie says:


  15. Katie says:

    As a broke, young and single woman who has lived in Omaha her entire life, I’m glad to see Omaha on this list! The naysayers who disagrees and call Omaha boring obviously don’t know where to go to have fun. There are so many gems throughout the city that are full of culture and fun and are so cheap. Also, I’ve noticed that every time I leave I feel the need to come back. It’s just a great city.

  16. Cameron says:

    It’s nice to see South Carolina get some shine as there are great places to live there and I would put Greenville at # 1 in that state. I am surprised to not see Atlanta and especially not Charlotte, NC on this list. Both cities have tons of young people and a diversified work force and are relatively cheap places to live. Charlotte attracts tons of young and educated people from all over the Southeast, Midwest, and Northeast each every year.

    I also don’t see how the article can have “broke” in the title and include cities like Seattle, Boston, and DC which are some of the most offensively expensive places in the country to live. Outstanding cities they are, but not if you are trying to appeal to the young, broke, and single.

  17. Michael says:

    I’m happy that Austin is getting some serious recognition here but I do have to say that locals don’t actually say “Keep Austin Weird”, that’s a bit of a tourist tag line. They gotcha!

  18. Brandon says:

    Enjoy the city you’re in. I’m sure every city has things to do. Can’t believe Denver wasn’t on this list. Tons of young single professionals with free events every weekend. Awesome public transportation and no commute times. Most ppl bike to work… Regardless. Lived in Denver and Phoenix as a young professional and both were amazing and have everything in the world to offer. So just get out and explore the city you’re in. Pointless tryin to find something elsewhere when it’s probably right under your nose.

  19. Lizz says:

    This article points out one thing about Baton Rouge (the rest are lies!)- NOLA moved in and never moved out. We are the murder capital of the south, with more murders than Chicago. We didn’t get the jovial New Orleans individual depicted by social media, but instead the gangs, poverty, and nightmarish people who have overcrowded the city and made many old prominent areas unsafe to wonder around during the daylight, much less at night. Mind you, not all people who moved here after Hurricane Katrina are bad, but the majority are still living off of government and fema assistance from the storm. The city is unsafe and over-priced. For a two bedroom apartment in a so-so neighborhood, I pay close to $950/month in just rent. Electricity, water, trashpick, not included! Some students move to “TigerTown” near LSU, but there are multiple rapes, murders, and break-ins in that area. Everything is over-inflated and over-priced.. Can you swallow $6 for a coors light? Neither can I. So I would not rate Baton Rouge as a great place for people under 30, being a person under 30. This place is a nightmare.

  20. Bryan says:

    I’ve been to every city on this list except for Durham and Columbus and I’m sort of shocked. Orlando, FL is the worst city I’ve ever been to. Also, Boston but not Philly? Baton Rouge is also among my most hated places. I can get behind San Diego, New Orleans, Seattle and Austin but these are fairly obvious places that make every list. The only sort of under the radar city on here that I see is Minneapolis which I’ve always felt is underrated. Other than that I’d pretty much call these a list of the most mediocre cities in America to be pretty bored in.

    Also, in my experience being in a mid sized city that is defined by a large university is fun only if you are between the ages of 18 and 22 and are attending that university. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of annoying college kids and semi-suburbanites.

    • Emma says:

      You have a really good point about mid sized cities being defined by universities and suburbanites and it therefore being difficult for those of us above the age of 22 and not married. I live in Wilmington, NC as a Graduate Students at it unfortunately fits that description to a “T”. If not for the beach/coastline, I would be so desperate to get out of here. As is, I’m willing to fairly happily stick it out until my course finishes (June 2014!) and I’m planning to move to Arlington, VA – back to my Virginia roots but a few hours north. Rent prices are a shock (lol 3x what I pay here – I’m doing my research!), but I’m excited for everything else.

      I think some people are forgetting this list had more than one variable. As one of the authors pointed out, cheap cost of living does not often = fun. I do know people who happily lived in DC/Arlington without assistance from their parents, and that is probably one of the most expensive areas on this list. To those of you complaining that rent cannot be found for less than $900 – try less than $1200, and you’ve got most of the DC Metro Area. It is not as bad as the UK though, I have friends who live in London and pay 800 GBP for a bedroom in a shared flat. So it could be worse!

    • Jared says:

      Why do you hate Baton Rouge?

  21. Lou Carlozo says:

    So glad to see the responses to this post. The items on this list will always be open to debate, and that’s healthy and good–keep refuting (or supporting) the assertions made in my piece. Mostly I see civil responses; keep in mind that some facts in the story can easily be countered by other facts, and if you point that out, please try to do so with grace and humility. I think we go out of the way to say the list is not scientific–so as such, it’s great when people engage the debate without resorting to insult and instead “join the conversation.”

    To those who’d insist on insulting me–and I got some hate mail in the past week–I’d simply say what a mentor of mine once told me: “There are two things about rolling around with a pig in the mud: You get dirty, and the pig likes it.” When you resort to that sort of trash talk, I laugh and hit delete. (I also imagine you playing way too many rounds of Dungeons and Dragons between picking your nose and binging on Ho-Hos.)

    And when you make earnest attempts to broaden my perspective, or inform me of some deeper truth behind the headline, I take that as an invitation to learn and grow from you. When you take the high road, I get a better view as well.

    Thanks! Lou Carlozo

  22. Matt says:

    Where’s Kansas City on this list? Real low cost of living and great music scene/nightlife. KU, K State and Mizzou all feed into KC.

    • TJ says:

      I agree. I visited KC in 2001. Not much happening then. Went back in 2013. Awesome nightlife area called the Power & Light District. Good for KC!

  23. Renee says:

    I love all the Austin individuals giving the warning to stay out. It seems unfriendly, until you move here and you realize that the city is unfriendly. There is no Texas charm here, you have to go to other parts of the Lone Star State for that. But they do speak truths… Affordable housing – yes, if you move to Cedar Park, Kyle, Hutto or {{shutter}} Manor or further. The other alternative is 27 roommates. Since this article has publsihed, the unemployment is about to increae, a local company just laid off more than 700 workers. And as far as the single, I think it is a lifestyle choice… like the optional bathing that seems to be popular here. I met my husband out of town and drug him back here, him hollaring the whole way. But no worries, Cap Metro people, we will be leaving as soon as he finishes his graduate degree.

  24. Bob says:

    This list kind of makes me scratch my head. I lived in Omaha for many years. It’s not a place where young, broke, singles live. Des Moines really isn’t either. These are cities where people that are young and single leave to go to other places. The ones that stay couple up at a young age and start having a family before 30. Cheap, sure, boring, definitely. Just the way it is. Minneapolis and K.C. are much more popular destinations for young, broke, singles in this part of the country.

    Also, Seattle and San Diego cheap? Don’t think so.

  25. Neozaynab says:

    I’ll tell you what rents are like elsewhere, in Chicago a good price on a two bedroom is $1000. I have never found a decent studio for less that $550, not in this market today. If you want to live in a “desirable” neighborhood, you’ll pay $1500 for a two bedroom and between $700 and $900 for a studio, not including the cost of the parking space, an added $100. Parking tickets are $60 for an expired meter, somewhere over $100 for moving violations. Street parking is $6.75 an hour downtown, maybe more, and usually about $2 an hour in the neighborhoods. Single ride on public transit is $2.25, monthly public transit pass is $100. Tax on all purchases is near 10% (food, clothing). Gas is around $4.50 a gallon. No one else is allowed to complain and I’m getting the hell out of here as soon as possible.

  26. Courtney says:

    I loved seeing South Carolina on the list a couple of times, and definitely agree with charleston! I disagree with Columbia, however. It’s not as fun as it should be, doesn’t have a lot of great businesses to work for, and is surprisingly dangerous. Also ridiculously hot. Should have put Greenville, SC in its spot instead! Really popular for people just out of college and lots of free things to do

  27. Kimberly says:

    I just moved from Des Moines to Minneapolis – Des Moines IS (Farmers Market and I Cubs is about it, no museums and a classless/tasteless nightlife) boring but everything else listed is accurate in my opinion. I’m shocked Minneapolis made the list because cost if living is 20-33% more than Des Moines. Rent and housing cost is insane – though if I was single and had money, I think I’d love it.
    Having lived in Kansas City for 15 years, I’m actually shocked it did not make the list. Beautiful City, great people, tons to do and huge nightlife variety.

    • frankd says:

      I’m with ya on Kansas City. I grew up in KC and there is quite a bit to do. Lots of live music, sports, bars etc. The rent depending on the area is cheap.
      I’m glad San Antonio didn’t get a nod. We have a growing music and good scene here. Things are cheap and traffic isn’t bad. We are close to Austin and Houston if ya want to go for a weekend.

  28. Adam says:

    I lived in Baton Rouge for a while and then moved to Orlando, and I have to say I think you get more bang for your buck in Orlando. Renting in Baton Rouge (after Katrina) usually gets you an overpriced apartment in a complex, whereas Orlando has multiple types of rental properties available. Our downtown is vibrant with many fantastic restaurants and bars, and Baton Rouge’s is almost dead after 5pm. My overall cost of living has decreased, and I am impressed with the city. You can’t get bored here. That’s not to say BR is bad, but the best thing about it is that it’s close to New Orleans.

  29. sue says:

    Wow, if the rents are considered low in the Seattle area I hate to think what they are elsewhere!! I love this city and have lived him for over thirty years, but it seems rather expensive to live here. It is a great city though!

  30. DeShawn Isaac says:

    Hey Austin may not want you….. Columbus will welcome you with open arms. You really undervalued Columbus by a mile.

  31. That guy says:

    Surprised about Columbia, sc. Even in South Carolina, charleston or greenville are better options with more working folks in their 20s. Cola only has college kids and try hard politician wannabes

  32. Robin says:

    I find it hard to believe that any other city has more bars than NOLA!

  33. Hannah says:

    The photo for Durham, NC is actually a picture of the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, NC, which though close, is a very different town.

  34. Laura says:

    Surprised to see Austin on here ( not as much when I saw how you judged, we do have the most bars per capita) because as a young broke person I am planning on leaving Austin soon as it is quickly becoming too expensive for me to stay. In the past five years since I moved here rent has jumped incredibly, even in the less desired neighborhoods, and the cost of going out has been rising. As more people come (because we keep getting on lists like this) the costs will only continue to rise.

  35. Trux says:

    Where did you get that picture of Columbus? Did you know that you can type in “Columbus, Ohio” into Google and there are literally thousands of pictures of the Columbus Skyline? Not just two smallish buildings on the Southwest side of the city? It’s true!

  36. Jason says:

    I live in both the #1 and #2 cities and love them both! They are both becoming overly popular but offer awesome things that cannot be found in any other place (at least domestically).

  37. Meredith says:

    I live in a westerville, just outside of columbus, oh aka “one of the top five friendliest towns in america” which is totally accurate. Lot of cool people, lot’s of great bars and any type of food you could want exist here. I make about $12,000 a year and have my own studio in a super safe and very nice historic neighborhood, i live comfortably and still can go out. The parks around columbus are awesome, the franklin park conservatory is beautiful and i love my town. Everyone in this town for the most part is very laid back and generally has a good sense of humor. If you want to get out of the city travel 50 min. south to Hocking Hills for an amazing state park with canoeing, zip lines, amazing hiking, and fabulous cabins for great prices. My friends and i went there to hike and played in a big waterfall and jumped off a boulder into the water, it was lovely, always a great time! Overall this town is very accepting of all types of people and very warm and now we have a great food truck scene too! what more could you want!?

  38. Alex says:

    Salt Lake City, porn is banned there

  39. ac says:

    Austin is a great place to live but WE HAVE 10,000 people moving here every month according to recent studies!! We love visitors and enjoy your company!! But get the hell out! Lmao

  40. Lucy says:

    My husband and I just moved from Austin. It is getting way too crowded. I moved to Austin in 2000. It was way more fun back then. My landlord just raised our rent over 25% because he felt he could get more money for the property. He’ll probably rent to someone from California! We both have decent paying jobs but don’t want to spend all of our hard earned money on rent. The traffic is horrid it takes me an hour and a half to get to work. I personally wouldn’t move there unless you like condo life in a high rise.

  41. Brian says:

    Born and raised in Austin, lived there my entire life and for better or worse it is not the same city I grew up in. It’s gone from being the best kept secret in the US to quite literally an international hub for people who want to be cool and have fun.

    That’s not to say it isn’t cool, because it is. SXSW is the modern day world’s fair in my mind and ACL is up there with just about any other music festival in the biz. But at the end of the day, Austin is the epitome of the “I ended up liking it so much I decided to stay here” kind of city. We appreciate your business and we hope you enjoy it here, but please don’t stay!

  42. Cassie says:

    It might have helped if you’d spoken to someone in Houston or Austin before writing this.
    People move to Austin for the “fun, weird” atmosphere then discover they can’t afford to live anywhere inside the city without multiple roommates and nobody is hiring but the bars and restaurants. There are a lot of destitute people there who bought into the dream of reliving their college years and got trapped by it. Unless you have a job locked down or are independently wealthy, just don’t do it.
    Houston is a growing market that can barely keep up with the demand for housing. Living inside the loop isn’t cheap, but it’s not unmanageable either. Commutes are crazy if you haven’t learned to find your window. For help, ask a lifelong Houstonian how to make your drive. We have them ALL mentally mapped and know which freeways and streets to take *when* to get anywhere, this will include which lane to use (key!).
    Texas is an insider state. Make friends. Its easy as Texans are naturally friendly and helpful. Your survival depends on it.

  43. KELSEY says:

    First my demographics. Native Texan, female, single, 21, living in Austin TX for over a year.

    I made this move in search of better career opportunities, lower cost of living, and to put me closer to my education. Since I have moved to Austin, Cost of living has skyrocketed. You cannot live anywhere 20 minute radius of downtown if you are truly single and without financial assistance that is not more than 700$ a month. Im talking one bedroom or effieciency that aren’t the nicest costing that, with little to no ammenities. I work at The Headliners Club on West Sixth street. A very prominent club serving patrons of legislature, major CEO, board of directors and trustees for anything that affects the Austin education, housing, or even the Austin Lyric Opera. A very great paying job with great benefits. Yet I still have to live 2 hours away from downtown if commuting by Capitol Metro Bus System. 150 people move into this town every day according to recent studies done buy housing officials. SO GET A ROOMIE! THATS THE BEST WAY TO FLOURISH HERE. Get resourceful with your living arrangements and you’ll LOVE everything this city has to offer. The PROS are certainly outweighing the cons for me in every other aspect.

  44. Melissa says:

    I lived in Baton Rouge for over two years and had a business there. The people cannot even be called people. More like sub humans…despite being where LSU is located…the people of the city are backwoods, uneducated and are drunk 24/7(and that goes for the students too) Everyone wears LSU gear everyday of the week for no reason and it has to be the #1 city for racism. The black people hate the white people and the white people hate the black people…OPENLY! Everyone is completely overweight and all the food is fried and smothered with cheese. Yes, its cheap…but that is about the only positive thing about it. Don’t even get me started about the people that came into my store with “obama money” to spend….all in all this is the trash of the trash.

    • Kelsey G. says:

      As a native Baton Rougean, I’m sorry to hear you had such a negative impression of my beloved city.

      Are people obsessive about LSU, all the time? Yes. Having an LSU sticker on your car almost serves as auto insurance. LSU athletics are like the pro team here, for all of the sports- we have a lot of school pride, even if you didn’t attend the school.

      Do racism and poverty exist in the city? Yes. Unfortunately. But it’s not as rampant as your post suggests, in my opinion. Especially in the younger generations, the racism that existed in the city’s past is slowly melting away.

      Do unhealthy food options exist, as well as obesity? Yes, but I challenge you to go to any other city on this list (or in the US, really) and not see those things as well. I can rattle off a few places to go to get a really great plate of cheese fries, but I can list even more that offer amazing options like Gulf-caught seafood, colorful salads, and other innovative, fresh options that make the most of all of the local ingredients and cuisine.

      I’m not denying that Baton Rouge has room to improve- in fact, I would have mostly agreed with you as a high school senior desperate to go out of state for college. But I gladly returned to my hometown when I graduated because of the incredible warmth of the people here, the unique culture, and the opportunity to really make an impact on my community. I encourage you to come back and visit, and really experience the city- I promise you’ll change your mind.

    • Lizz says:

      I can completely agree with your statement. Baton Rouge has got to be the behind of all cities. This place is a complete nightmare. The adults act like children, which gives me no hope for their children to ever act like adults. Shooting occur all the time, gang wars, unsafe places, this place is awful. I do enjoy some of the food, but I do see where we are an unhealthy state all around. Im tired of seeing people sitting on their front porch watching traffic all day waiting on their government check to show up! And I’d never seen black people hate white people as much as they do in BR!

  45. Day says:

    Gotta disagree a little with Omaha being so high on the list. It’s true that it’s got a cheap-as-hell cost of living, and there are some seriously awesome things to do there (the zoo, old market), but those are things you do maybe a couple times a year. The other 360 days a year are boring as hell for a young single. Omaha is a great place to start a family, NOT be a young single. If I ever had kids, I’d consider going back.

    I don’t regret moving to Minneapolis. Sure, the cost of living is more and sometimes assaults my cheap, Omaha senses, but I also MAKE more up here. And a lot of people just live in the cheaper Saint Paul and take a bus over the river to Minneapolis for work. I don’t know a single person in Minneapolis that doesn’t like living there (except for the minor grumbling in the winter), but I do recall a LOT of people grumbling about how they wish they could leave the “black hole” that is Omaha

  46. Sabrina says:

    Well well well, I don’t know much about Austin but based on most of the comments above, they don’t want anyone moving there. I think I’ll stick to my sunny, beachy, (ridiculously expensive but worth it) California living.

    I love this article, though; and this website, for that matter!

  47. newton says:

    I’m 23 and have been living in Houston for the past decade. The problem I see about Houston is that the fun areas to live in aren’t exactly cheap, and the cheap areas aren’t exactly fun. Like Austin (and many metropolitan areas in Texas), the cost of rent is going up and thanks to all the people moving into Houston, it’s definitely no exception.

    Let’s not even get into commuting times.

  48. Amy says:

    Columbus is terribly and irresponsibly represented on this list. A metropolitan area of 2.3 million people — in a state of 11.5 million — is hardly “the middle of nowhere.” The photo shows a condo building, not the skyline.

    No offense to the American Whistle Corp., but job seekers might find more opportunities at one of central Ohio’s 15 Fortune 1000 companies, including Limited Brands (Victoria’s Secret/Bath & Body Works), Nationwide Insurance, Cardinal Health and Abercrombie & Fitch.

    And the Bruce Lee museum is actually a martial-arts school with some Bruce Lee memorabilia. I did ten seconds of research and called, apparently unlike the author of this post.

    • Allison says:

      Agreed. Many of my friends are employed with the companies you listed…and I myself am a part of a healthcare market that continues to grow here. Not to mention OSU, whose network employs a large number of the population here.

      This myth that Ohio is the middle of nowhere baffles me. There is so much to do in this area.

    • Lou Carlozo says:

      Read the post again. The Bruce Lee reference was meant to be funny. They do have humor in Columbus, right? 😉

  49. Mel P says:

    Change the photo for Columbus please. That’s not our skyline; they’re an apartment building and a moderately-sized office building. It makes the city look podunk when.it’s really not.

  50. Bob says:

    If you’re broke how are you going to be able to afford to drink at bars? The criteria this article uses are pretty bizarre. Austin and even moreso Seattle are hella expensive, the traffic in both suck. The only thing Houston has going for it is it’s relatively cheap, the night scene in SLC is the pits, etc etc etc.

  51. Andrew says:

    A little note about Des Moines and Omaha. Des Moines is significantly smaller. I’m not sure where the half million population figure for Des Moines came from but I’m guessing that’s the metropolitan statistical area figure, yet you used Omaha’s city population. Omaha’s metro population is closer to 900k people. Not that quantity necessarily predicts quality, just thought I would note those facts.

    • Adam Gibson says:

      I noticed the same thing. As an Omaha resident that loves my city I felt like we were slighted with the 400,000 est. Our city population is more than 400,000 and our metro is much bigger than Des Moines. Either way, its a good list to be on.

  52. Jon says:

    Austin has become filled with nothing but college graduates who DON’T want to get out and get real jobs, but more “I’ll work in a bar because my parents still pay my bills.” You couldn’t pay me to live there. Rent is overpriced, traffic sucks, massive rallies/festivals every weekend bringing hundred of thousands of people to cram the city. Nah, I’ll pass.

  53. me says:

    Yea I live in Austin, we’re closed. Sorry.

  54. Amanda says:

    Austin should not be number one! Rent is sky-rocketing so every penny you earn will go towards your living expenses unless you’re a yuppy, it’s crowded, traffic is terrible, there’s always a festival that will inconvenience you on your trip to work in some way, panhandlers on every corner and they get aggressive, if you move to a bad neighborhood for cheap rent then panhandlers will follow you from your car to your door, and we’re full! Go home!

  55. Kate says:

    I’m surprised that Portland, Oregon didn’t make the list, since we are a city of young & broke. I grew up here, and it’s been amazing to watch the influx of people from California, New England, and elsewhere who have landed here during the past decade. But our economy hasn’t kept up, and with Oregon’s insanely high income tax and high rent, it’s not the easiest place to live.

  56. Mike says:

    Contrary to the authors opinions, Austin is still the most expensive place to live in Texas, hands down. Our motto is “Keep Austin Weird” not “Keep Austin full of the most reckless and idiotic demographic on the planet”. So allow me to be blunt… you’re not welcome here. :o)

  57. LIES!! Stop sending yuppies to Austin! Rent is skyrocketing here, and us poor artists are being priced out of our last refuge in the west. Cheap apartments are disappearing, the coolness is being drowned in a sea of horrid suburban blandness, and it’s almost impossible to find a decent paying job, even with advanced degrees. Texas has ZERO social assistance programs, thanks to the banal malevolence of Rick Perry, and the young and broke are leaving in droves, because they’re being strangled by high rent and low pay.

  58. Mike says:

    This is FALSE. I live in Austin and just tried to find an apartment for a friend who recently moved here from NY. The multi family housing (a.k.a apartments) are at 99% capacity. You won’t find anything under $900 a month, and this will be a roach motel. These communities are extremely picky for who they rent to, because they can be; it’s their market. So if you’re broke, which suggests you may have some late payments, you can forget renting. They have also added a clause into the TAA lease that says they can ask you for TWO months notice to vacate. PLUS a reletting fee (85% of one months rent) if you break the lease. SO, if you have to leave the lease early because you lost your job and you’re dead broke, you’re on the hook for 2.85 months rent before you can even walk out the door. That could be $2565! And if you don’t pay it, guess what? You will never rent anywhere in the Austin market ever again. Guaranteed.

  59. Edmo says:

    Austin is closed. Traffic is horrible. It is over 90 degrees and way up over 100 for months . Your allergies will become year round. Do not come here.

  60. Tobin Freid says:

    Durham is a great place to live no matter what stage in life one is in. I am glad to see it on the list, though disappointed to see the photo you included is of Chapel Hill and not Durham. Maybe you can fix that? Durham has a lot of great, iconic places you could include.

    • Jeff H says:

      I also thought the Pic of Durham was from Chapel Hill… BUT then I realized that is Baldwin Auditorium on Duke’s east Campus.

      Go Durham!

    • I had the same thought that the pic was of the UNC planetarium until I realized the building is on Duke’s East Campus. The architecture of that building is much more representative of UNC than it is of Duke!

    • B-EZ says:

      chapel hillian here.. it’s embarrassing for you that you assumed it was UNC b/c it was a pretty picture of Duke’s campus.. even a tarheel can admit Duke has pretty parts of its campus too.

      Can’t agree with Durham on this list. While I live in Durham and love it. A lot of that is the fact that I am from here with family and friends here. Don’ think it affords the same entertainment and rich social opportunities for transplants.

  61. meagan says:

    Love and have lived in so many of the cities on this list! One small correction: Glaxo Wellcome became GlaxoSmithKline well over a decade ago. As a GSK child who grew up in RTP, just felt you should know!

  62. Alissa says:

    I’m from Columbus and though I am SO happy to see that my great city made the list, I’m a little disappointed in the picture chosen and the fact that the whistle company and martial arts museum were the only things noted. Columbus is AWESOME! Beyond just the Buckeyes, we’ve got great nightlife, awesome malls, gorgeous parks and a city government that truly cares about and invests in its young professionals.

    In fact, Columbus is such a fantastic place to be young, broke and single that despite graduating from college just a few years ago, I’m not broke or single anymore. #Winning :)

    • Allison says:

      I totally agree. I moved into C-bus for a job last year and have loved every minute of it. It has a great local scene, up and coming arts with CCAD nearby, an abundance of parks and trails, and lots of local eateries and bars. North Market is truly a gem.

      So glad I found such a vibrant city to call home!

    • Meredith says:

      i agree with you on the picture, what’s ironic about it is that it is a picture of one of the most expensive places to live in columbus by far along with places like highland lakes and medallion or anywhere actually in downtown, this really is a surprisingly awesome town though, city life and beautiful country all around, love it!

    • Alissa says:

      Love the new picture of Columbus! Thanks :)

  63. chris says:

    “Seattle and its environs have low rents” — I don’t agree with this statement at all. Where are you proposing people live – outside of the center?

  64. JaySchodts says:

    Yay Austin!
    The saying here is “Welcome to Austin!”
    Now go home.

  65. justin says:

    austin sucks dont move there

    • Matt W. says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty bad here, and it’s HOT. ALL. THE. TIME. I think Oklahoma City or Des Moines would be better option. Please try those.

      • Matt W. says:


      • Charlie says:

        While not hot year round, summers in OKC can be absolutely brutal. I’ve had people from Phoenix complain about the heat here.

        And I’m sure you’ve heard about our wonderful tornadoes!

      • Danny says:

        Well it got up to 102˚ here in Des Moines today, with the heat index probably around 110˚.

        I don’t even have air conditioning in my car, but I don’t mind. Just drink some ice water and you’re good.

        And by the way, this is a great place for young professionals! Just graduated and got a job making $55,000/year. This site is helping me not blow it all on fast cars and loose women.

    • zero says:

      I live in Austin and absolutely hate it. It seems like if you’re not an alcoholic, stoner, or biker-there isn’t anything to do. It’s very small and gets smaller the longer you stay here. The arts scene is mediocre, nobody is “discovered” in Austin and the music is mediocre too. A major thing that gets under my skin though is it seems everyone here has just given up, like a 30 year old that lives in his mom’s basement-it seems like no one puts care into their appearance or actually encouraging culture here. It’s slacker culture and encourages you to stay a slacker, def not a place to get started or be surrounded by driven people. Addressing the rent, rent here is outrageous for what it offers which is little to nothing. Oh did I mention it feels like Hell here for 90% of the year ugh I’m leaving as soon as I can-been here for 3 years from Dallas (hate Dallas too). That’s my 2 cents, Austin=boring (unless you like to drink, smoke, and listen to mediocrity)

  66. Moses says:

    As a Houston resident, I’m really shocked to see us below Austin, and EXTREMELY shocked to see us at #11. There is an oil and gas boom that is driving everyone here for the jobs, especially the young professional crowd. The city is developing at an exponential rate, and it needs people to help keep up.

    Looks like the only main difference between us and Columbus is the commute. I guess that was weighed more heavily than the other variables?

    • ultra says:

      Because Houston is just… a huge city. And this is about being young and broke and single, so people who don’t have real-world professional jobs can migrate to places that have free stuff so they can be leeches to society. Austin, with a history of being hip and laid-back and now trendy, has more of that appeal than Houston did, or ever will. Those “Visit Houston” ads with ZZ Top, Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper), etc. are just plain boring.

      • Confused says:

        Talk to me in about 5 years, and we’ll see where that “trendy” gets Austin. They can have all the broke freeloaders (as you’ve described them), it doesn’t seem to pan out too well for cities that have many of them.

    • Drew says:

      Definitely have to agree with you. I live here and love it! The oil & gas boom is driving this city towards greatness! Not only are there jobs, but those jobs are high paying (double the national average). Combine large incomes with an extremely low cost of living (for a major metropolitan areas anyway), and it is a recipe for fun.

      With the recent development of Midtown & the Washington Ave. corridor, we now have hot spots for young professionals to live & play. I’ve seen more young people move here in the last 18 months than probably in the last 10 years. They can’t build apartments fast enough!

      We also have cool events like Free Press Summer Fest, the Art Car Parade, some type of major pub crawl every weekend. Houston is up and coming. I’m not saying we should be #1 yet, but we should be top 10 and moving up.

    • gdh says:

      try being carless in houston rofl

      • Teresa says:

        The average commute listed here is hysterical to me. Just driving down 290 in the “outskirts” takes forever long on its own. Forget driving from downtown to Cypress in less than 30 minutes… It took me an hour in the middle of the afternoon today.

  67. Erik Landfried says:

    Very glad to see my home of Durham, NC on this list. It’s a wonderful place to live, whether you’re single, have a family, are retired, whatever. Gotta take exception to my hometown of Boston being on this list though. I specifically left Boston because of the high cost of living there. Young and single, it’s not bad. Broke? Good luck.

  68. Anastasia Beaverhausen says:

    Austin sucks. Please don’t move here!

  69. Lauren says:

    Several years ago, this northeastern girl was young, broke, and single in New Orleans and LOVED every minute of it!

    One thing not mentioned is how many free events, mostly outdoor festivals, take place in NOLA…French Quarter Fest, Bayou Boogaloo, Cajun/Zydeco Fest, Gumbo Fest, Po-boy Fest just to name a few. And of course, Mardi Gras, our biggest free party!

    Today, I’m less young, slightly less broke, and married…and still living in New Orleans and loving it!!

    • Shannon says:

      Baton Rouge has a fair amount of free stuff too, though not to the same extent. But yeah, those things are a definite plus. And anywhere in the area you can drive to free festivals. In spring there’s actually too much stuff going on. There will sometimes be 3 or 4 free events within an hour’s drive and I want to do them all!

    • Bill says:

      Funny how Metairie and Kenna brah were piggy-backed onto New Orleans! Nightlife is zippo in Jefferson Parish where these two suburbs are located. All the action is in New Orleans. And if you live out in Kenner and work in the central business district of NO, your commute AM/PM is a pain in the rear end. The I-10 is being expanded so this may improve in the future. That being said, NOLA is quite the unique city and I’d rather not live anywhere else in the US. And we welcome people, move here!

    • Lauren says:

      How did Baton Rouge make this list? I moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge from grad school. This has got to be one of the most mediocre, boring, and sprawl-tastic cities I’ve ever spent time in. The job market is good, I’ll give you take, but do you really want to live in a place that is completed dominated by sports and driving everywhere? New Orleans is awesome. Stay out of BR. Lafayette is a great city though, so if your looking for a job in the oil industry and New Orleans is too far from work, check out our Cajun gem to the west.

      • Jared says:

        Hey! Don’t hate. We’re not Austin or NOLA but we have a good time here, too. At least here you don’t have to pay $20 to park to go out. Walk-On’s was voted the top sports bar in the country. Yeah, we’re a sports town – we love our Tiger and our Saints (WHODAT). Third St. is fun on the weekends as well as Northgate. There also a lot of cool places off the beaten path – Hound Dog’s, Red Star, Spanish Moon, Splash, etc.

  70. Ashley says:

    I’m 23. Having lived in Des Moines all of my life (and looking to get out of it!), I can say that it is extremely affordable to live here, the economy is VERY stable and it’s a great place to raise a family. There is a small subculture here that is trying to bring interesting new activities to the area, but Des Moines is VERY family oriented. It isn’t uncommon to see people coupled up and married before age 25, so I find it hard to find quality singles here. I am curious, however…what does % of singles mean? How was that data compiled?

    • David E. Weliver says:

      Thanks for the perspective Ashley. One of the ranking factors was the percentage of unmarried people in each city’s population. As you point out, that metric for Des Moines was considerably lower than other cities, but other factors — like jobs, cost of living, and commute time — brought it up.

    • Ian says:

      Ashley, I think this is a cultural phenomenon for our generation.

      I’m 27 and unmarried, and I feel like I completely missed the boat, and I’m in Columbus (which scored better for singles than Des Moines though not by much). it’s very difficult to find quality people my age who aren’t (effectively) married already.

  71. I love seeing Durham on this list! Although I am a married lady, I and my husband are both graduate students so we know all about being young and broke. I didn’t consider the cost of living heavily when I was choosing graduate schools but I’m so glad I ended up in a median cost of living area that still has great quality of life. I love living in a small, vibrant city! We’ll be sad to go when we move on to our next jobs.

  72. Eva says:

    I would disagree with Washington, DC’s placement on this list. With the highest cost of living (#79), there are definitely better deals out there. You only need to look an hour north in Baltimore to have great living spaces, food, and a burgeoning arts scene all for very affordable prices. And with more start-ups everyday and housing developments being built around the block, Baltimore is primed to become the next big thing.

    • David E. Weliver says:

      Good point, Eva. A couple of these cities (e.g., DC, Boston) do have high costs of living, but other factors (% of young people and jobs) moved them up the rankings. As we crunched the data, the list looked drastically different based ONLY on cost of living. Basically, the entire top 20 consisted of smaller midwestern and southern cities which tended to have lower young, single populations and more homogenous job markets. We tried to strike a balance!

      • meagan says:

        And don’t forget that DC has so many fantastic free events! Grad school there meant I was (and am) super broke, but it definitely deserves to be on the list for being fun, young, and full of smart, driven singles.

        • I love that DC and Baton Rouge are both on this list. I’m a DC native and though the city is expensive, there are so many young people and fun and free stuff to do. Plus the job market is one of the best in the country, esp. If you are a government employee. I recently moved with my husband to Baton Rouge and the cost of living here is waaaaayyy better than DC and its a smaller town but there’s still lots to do, though the job market outside of oil & gas is not as robust.

  73. Tommy says:

    Pittsburgh nowhere to be found!

  74. As a native Seattleite, just wanted to clarify that statistic: we sell more sunglasses than anywhere else in the country because by the time the sun appears, we’ve lost our sunglasses and have to buy a replacement! Also, it’s not a fun city at all so please stay away 😉

    • sue says:

      So very true!!!

    • Arson says:

      I also would like to mention that it is one of the most expensive cities I have ever lived in.

    • Jason says:

      After I read that statistic, my first thought was to come down here and clear it up – I’m glad you beat me to it.

      Also, since when is Seattle known for “low rents”?? Bellevue especially… I can think of plenty of places where you can do better that 900+/month for a studio.

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