The diverse Gen Z generation has a wide range of priorities when it comes to choosing a city to live in. Some value affordability while others prioritize education and employment prospects. Still others are looking for a city with abundant recreational activities.
To help Gen Zers identify cities that align with their priorities, CommercialCafe analyzed major U.S. cities across a variety of key metrics. These included the Gen Z population share, educational attainment, affordability, eco-friendly commuting and park density. The results of this analysis created a comprehensive guide for Gen Zers who are looking for a city that values community, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.
Minneapolis Takes Lead as Ultimate City for Gen Z
Minneapolis is the top city for Gen Z in 2023, and in fact, it already boasts a strong Gen Z population (roughly 10% of residents belong to this demographic) and attracts many others within this age group. Additionally, more than half of its Gen Z inhabitants are enrolled in post-secondary educational pursuits, making Minneapolis an attractive destination for young professionals to chase their career goals. Similarly, a low unemployment rate of 2.6% presents promising job prospects. Finally, the city’s budget-friendly subscriptions to high-speed internet access are especially appealing to the digital nomad types from this age group.
Next, Atlanta was the runner-up with remarkable performances across its educational indicator. More than half of the city's Gen Zers are enrolled in higher education, with Atlanta also having the highest number of parks per capita. Meanwhile, Boston was the third-best city, with the highest percentage of Gen Zers enrolled in post-secondary school (61%) and a top result in terms of parks and green commuting.
In fourth place, Columbus, Ohio, emerged as an attractive and budget-friendly urban center, boasting living costs 10% lower than the national average. Likewise, clinching the fifth spot, Raleigh, North Carolina, distinguished itself with its dedicated approach to education, and ample employment possibilities.
Top Cities for Gen Z Population Share, Affordability and Job Market
While Minneapolis, Atlanta and Boston occupied the podium, a whole host of entries had noteworthy performances across various individual indicators. Gen Z, known for their appreciation of individuality, prompted the study to recognize that different people will prioritize different factors when choosing a city to live in. To that end, the study provides an overview of each city's performance on each of the metrics used to create the national ranking.
Tucson, Arizona, had the highest concentration of Gen Z residents at 11.3%. The sizable number of members of this generation living in the city can create a sense of community and peer connections. The University of Arizona, with its over 50,000 students, also contributes to this dynamic in Tuscon.
For Gen Z individuals looking for a city with a strong educational focus, Boston is a great option. The city is home to many prestigious universities and over 50% of the Gen Z age group are enrolled in educational programs.
Additionally, Oklahoma City offers a variety of job opportunities in a growing economy with reasonable living costs. This makes it an appealing choice for Gen Z looking to establish their careers and financial independence.
The study also identified the top cities in other factors that are important to Gen Z, such as the availability of green commuting options, the number of parks per capita, and the overall "fun factor" of a city. These are all important aspects for a generation that is increasingly concerned about environmental sustainability, social engagement, and digital access. To learn more about which cities thrived in these categories, as well as the full list of the top 20 cities overall, please see the full study of the best places to live in for Gen Z.
The study's methodology section provides further insights into the ranking process. This section includes a detailed explanation of each metric, as well as the weight that was given to each metric in the final ranking.