The Best Cities for Millennials, According to Millennials

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Leaving the nest is an important life event, but not always an easy one. Work opportunities, cost of living, leisure activities, and other factors all play a role in your residential decisions, and for Millennials, weighing all of those elements for the first time can be overwhelming. YouthfulCities, a global initiative dedicated to evaluating cities from a young person's point of view, recently released its 2015 lists of the world's most youthful and most affordable cities. When viewed in conjunction with one another, these two lists reveal Millennials' priorities when choosing a place to live.

For its 2015 Global Index [PDF], the “urban decoders” at YouthfulCities surveyed more than 10,000 young people (ages 15 to 29) from 55 cities around the world between 2013 and 2015 to find out what they liked most about their respective locales. The participants ranked everything from education and diversity to nightlife and safety, giving each attribute up to 10 points, for a highest possible score of 1600. With 1024.12 points, New York City was named the "Youthful City of the Year." Rounding out the top five were London, Berlin, San Francisco, and Paris.

While affordability was included in the Global Index, there was not a direct correlation between the places that Millennials could most afford and the places that they found to be the most suitable. The Most Affordable City for Youth [PDF], according to the YouthfulCities, was Sydney, which came in 16th on the list of most youthful cities. Montreal was second in affordability, despite being 18th on the overall list, and Detroit (the 25th most youthful) was named the third most affordable. San Francisco and Berlin were the only two cities to make the top five on both lists. As YouthfulCities points out, most of the cities topping the Affordability Index earned their spots thanks to their high minimum wage.

Of course, any survey that is meant to represent a significant portion of the population (Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers in the United States) should be taken with a grain of salt—consider the study's sample size, source, and factors considered, for starters. In a separate survey of 232 U.S. cities, listed Cambridge, Massachusetts, above New York and San Francisco in its list of the Best Cities for Millennials in America, while TIME Money gave the overall title of Best Place to Live for Millennials to Austin, Texas, for its job growth, affordability, and concentration of grocery stores and laundromats. Young people should check out the details of both YouthfulCites surveys, but they should also do some homework of their own before choosing a place to settle down.