Forget New York and San Francisco. These 11 cities strike the perfect balance between affordability and fun — which is why we named them the best cities in America to be young, broke, and single.

We’ve seen all sorts of “top 10 cities” lists: 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 “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 activities.

Source: Giphy.com

 

So, without further adieu, we give you the 11 best cities for Millennials and Gen Zers who are broke and single.

11. Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha Pride Parade | Source: Aspects and Angles/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 4% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $948 per month

💸 Median salary: $34,449

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 33.02%

🔓 Number of singles: 31.20%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 6 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 487,300

If you’re looking for a city that has it all, look no further than Omaha, Nebraska. This Midwestern gem offers everything from a vibrant nightlife scene to affordable housing options. And if you’re looking for love, 31.2% of Omaha’s population is single and ready to mingle.

Top employers in the area include Fortune 500 companies like ConAgra, Mutual of Omaha, and Union Pacific. And with a cost of living that’s 4% below the national average, you’ll have plenty of money left over to enjoy the city’s many offerings.

10. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis | Source: CK Foto/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 3% above the national average

🏠 Median rent: $$1,078 per month

💸 Median salary: $40,368

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 32.05%

🔓 Number of singles: 32.40%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 2 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 425,336

Minneapolis is another great city for young singles for a number of reasons. For one, it’s a beautiful place to live — nestled among lakes and rivers, with plenty of green space and parks. In fact, it’s ranked as the country’s fifth-best city for parks, according to the Trust for Public Land organization.

It also has a diverse population and a thriving art scene, with world-class museums, theaters, and concert venues. And if you’re looking for a job, Minneapolis is a great place to start your career. The city is home to major corporations like Target, Best Buy, and UnitedHealth Group.

Read more: Best Cities for Artists: 5 Affordable Places to Be Creative

9. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville’s Riverside art market | Source: PostMeridiemPhotos/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 6% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $1,089 per month

💸 Median salary: $55,531

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 23.53%

🔓 Number of singles: 32.70%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 9 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 954,614

Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida and is perfect for any Millennials and Gen Zers craving warmer weather. Downtown offers a lively nightlife scene, with bars and restaurants catering to every taste. There are also plenty of museums and art galleries to explore, as well as a growing number of breweries and distilleries.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Jacksonville is a paradise. The city has over 80 miles of beaches, as well as parks, nature trails, and golf courses. Major employers include Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Baptist Health, and CSX Corporation.

8. St. Louis, Missouri

Inside the Fox Theater in St. Louis | Source: STLJB/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 6% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $760 per month

💸 Median salary: $37,491

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 24.33%

🔓 Number of singles: 32.90%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 3 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 293,310

St. Louis is a city with a rich history and a vibrant cultural scene. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, St. Louis was once a major center of trade and transportation.

Today, the city is home to a number of world-class museums and attractions, as well as a bustling arts community. St. Louis is also known for its food, which includes such distinctive items as gooey butter cake and toasted ravioli.

In addition to its many cultural attractions, St. Louis offers a variety of outdoor activities, including biking and hiking in Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country — making it one of the best cities to be young, broke, and single.

7. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Kayaking group on the Milwaukee River | Source: John G Rusfeldt/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 2% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $866 per month

💸 Median salary: $43,125

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 24.10%

🔓 Number of singles: 35.10%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 5 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 569,330

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is another unique city with a lot to offer. For instance:

  • It’s the birthplace of a number of major breweries, including MillerCoors and Pabst Brewing Company.
  • It’s located on the shores of Lake Michigan, giving residents access to all sorts of water activities.
  • It’s home to a number of major league sports teams and Summerfest — the world’s largest music festival.
  • It’s just a short drive from Chicago, perfect for those times when you need a quick getaway.

Tack on a large percentage of singles and a below-average cost of living, and what’s not to love?

6. Columbus, Ohio

Park hangs in Columbus | Source: arthurgphotography/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 8% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $989 per month

💸 Median salary: $54,902

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 21.62%

🔓 Number of singles: 34.20%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 7 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 906,528

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 900,000.

The city also has one of the largest LGBTQ+ populations outside of San Francisco and New York. And if you’re looking for a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of city life, you can always take a short drive to one of the many state parks or nature reserves that surround Columbus.

Coupled with a strong job market — thanks to the presence of major employers like Nationwide Children’s Hospital and JPMorgan Chase — it’s clear to see why Columbus is one of the best cities to live in if you’re young and single.

Read more: The Top 10 LGBTQ+-2 Friendly Cities for Millennials and Gen Z

5. Atlanta, Georgia

Shops and pedestrians in Little Five Points, Atlanta | Source: ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 5% above the national average

🏠 Median rent: $1,227 per month

💸 Median salary: $64,179

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 22.94%

🔓 Number of singles: 33.80%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 4 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 496,461

Next up on our list is Atlanta, Georgia. Its cost of living is slightly above the national average (5%). But it’s one of the most diverse cities in the country, has a high concentration of single people, and has ample access to green spaces and parks. So long story short, it’s worth checking out.

Atlanta is home to a number of major corporations — Coca-Cola, CNN, Delta Air Lines, and The Home Depot — making it a great place to build a career. And if you’re looking for a taste of the South, you’ll find plenty of that in Atlanta as well. From delicious soul food to friendly people, there’s no shortage of Southern hospitality in this city.

4. Durham, North Carolina

Students on Duke University campus Source: EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 11% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $1,098 per month

💸 Median salary: $61,962

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 21.26%

🔓 Number of singles: 29.1%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 10 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 285,527

Several cities on our list have 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.

In fact, this area is home to a number of tech and research-related organizations such as IBM, Cisco Systems, Inc., the Research Triangle Institute, and Glaxo Wellcome. So before you move here, get out that résumé.

Read more: 8 Thriving Tech Cities (That Aren’t San Francisco)

3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Wheeler Ferris Wheel at dusk | Source: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 13% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $884 per month

💸 Median salary: $56,456

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 18.79%

🔓 Number of singles: 31.40%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 11 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 687,725

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 48 in January. (Of course, the occasional tornado is the tradeoff.)

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.

2. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza in Tulsa | Source: 4kclips/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 14% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $839 per month

💸 Median salary: $49,474

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 20.35%

🔓 Number of singles: 29.80%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 8 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 411,401

Tulsa is a great city for young singles who are looking for an affordable place to live and plenty of things to do. The cost of living in Tulsa is 14% below the national average, and there are plenty of jobs to be found in the city’s top industries, which include energy, healthcare, and manufacturing.

When it comes to nightlife and entertainment, Tulsa has a lot to offer. There are plenty of bars and clubs to enjoy, as well as museums, art galleries, and live music venues. And if you’re looking for love, you’ll find plenty of singles in Tulsa who are ready to mingle.

1. Cincinnati, Ohio

A patio in Cincinnati’s Findlay Market | Source: aceshot1/Shutterstock.com

 

💰 Cost of living: 8% below the national average

🏠 Median rent: $760 per month

💸 Median salary: $42,663

📊 Median rent-to-income ratio: 21.38%

🔓 Number of singles: 31%

⛰️ Recreation ranking: No. 1 out of 11

🌎 Population size: 308,935

Taking the top spot on our list in Cincinnati, Ohio. This Midwestern city is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble and Kroger. And with a population that’s 31% single, you’ll have no shortage of dating options.

Cincinnati is also a great city for young professionals. The median rent-to-income ratio is 21.38% and the cost of living is 8% below average — so you can rest assured that you won’t be spending all of your hard-earned paycheck on bills.

And with a median home price of just $148,700, it’s also one of the best cities for homeownership. So if you’re looking for a place to start your career and put down roots, Cincinnati could be the perfect city for you.

Read more: 11 Cities Where You Can Buy a Home for Under $150,000

Methodology

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: a solid job market, affordable housing, and a high percentage of singles.

We put a higher focus on diverse cities with low rent-to-income ratios and lots of green spaces that give you ample opportunities to explore — without spending a lot of money. We also looked at the area’s top employers to identify the cities with the most opportunity for entry-level workers.

To calculate the final list, we gave each city a score from 1 to 11, with the lowest scores representing the best cities for young professionals in that respective category. (For example, Oklahoma City received an 11 for “recreation” because it has the least number of parks per capita than other options on our list.) Then, we weighted each category based on importance and used that average to compile a list of the best cities to be young, broke, and single.

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Summary

Whether you’re looking for a city with plenty of job opportunities, nightlife options, or affordable rent, there’s sure to be a place on this list that’s perfect for you. So, what are you waiting for? Start packing your bags and get ready to find your new life in one of America’s best cities to be young, broke, and single!

Featured image: oneinchpunch/Shutterstock.com

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About the author

Cassidy Horton
Total Articles: 50
Cassidy Horton is a finance writer who specializes in banking and insurance. She earned her MBA and bachelor’s degree in public relations from Georgia Southern University — and has since published hundreds of finance articles online for Forbes Advisor, The Balance, Money, Finder.com, and more. When she's not helping Millennials and Gen Zers gain control of their finances, you can find Cassidy hiking around the Pacific Northwest, cuddling her two cats, and eating way too much fried chicken. Connect with her on cassidyhorton.com or LinkedIn to see what she’s up to next.