Young people in their 20s — and especially in the post-grad space — are often looking for new and compelling cities to move to. This is the time to start fresh — to try new things, escape your comfort zone, and explore new places before settling down. And as remote work becomes more and more common, uprooting and moving to a new city has become more doable for many twentysomethings. And there’s something beautiful about turning the page — making new friends after college, finding coffee shops and bars you learn to call your own, and redefining home.
However, it’s easy to become attracted to cities that are over-romanticized, short-lived, and TBH, just out of budget (NYC, I’m looking at you). Social media and Hollywood only deepen the heavy romanticization and cravings we have for these places, offering a narrative that is sparkling yet unattainable. Here are some highly sought after cities and their more down-to-earth and less expensive alternatives.
Choose Boston over New York City
The Big Apple is the apple of everyone’s eye, and for good reason: There’s nothing like Times Square at night, the best pizza in the country (sorry, Chicago), jaw dropping sky-line views, and more. But at the end of the day, New York City is crowded, and the rent is largely unaffordable for post-grads and people in their 20s. Hot take: Choose Boston over New York City.
Boston is a city full of history with a bunch of young people — truly the best of both worlds. Not only will you find cheaper rent, but Boston is filled with great views by the water, beautiful parks and architecture, hidden gems, great Italian food, and proximity to Cape Cod and other charming coastal towns.
Choose Sacramento over San Francisco
There’s no doubt that the Bay Area is the place to be, and San Francisco is one of those places that has this indescribable magic — whether you’re in Golden Gate park, exploring Castro district, or enjoying a sundae in Ghiradelli Square. But San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country, with rent only increasing by the minute.
Choose Sacramento instead, an up-and-coming city with cute restaurants and coffee shops, proximity to nature, and just a quick trip away from Lake Tahoe. Complete with an abundance of wineries and breweries, Sacramento is a down-to-earth place with a lot of young and growing energy.
Choose Fort Collins over Boulder
Boulder is portrayed as the sunny mountain town in Colorado everyone wants to be — but that comes with a price, because Boulder is expensive. Boulder is also bustling a college town and has a large college party scene, which may not be ideal for post-grads (no judgment if it’s your thing, though).
Opt for Fort Collins, Colorado’s less expensive and more down-to-earth neighbor. Fort Collins is a college town, too, but with a lot more generations living together. There is also more of an outdoors feel to Fort Collins, complete with beautiful hikes, great breweries, unique coffee shops, and art galleries.
Choose Tampa over Miami
Miami has beautiful beaches, mouthwatering cuisine, and exciting nightlife, so it’s no wonder everyone wants to move there — but it will cost you. Choose Tampa instead!
Not only is Tampa cheaper than Miami, with significantly more housing affordability, but it’s also filled with new sights to explore, such as the historic Ybor City neighborhood, Busch Gardens, and the Florida Aquarium. At the heart of Tampa is an equally compelling place to live, with tropical weather, easy access to beaches, and a present culture of fitness and the outdoors. Tampa is a growing metropolis, and you may want to go along for the ride.
Choose Milwaukee over Chicago
Chicago is an incredible place, with a thriving art scene, delicious deep dish pizza, and beautiful architecture. It has both the Midwest charm and something more: the sparks of curiosity and innovation. But like any desirable city, the rent is through the roof.
Choose Milwaukee over Chicago. Not only will your rent be cheaper, but you’ll experience a genuine local pride. It’s the beer capital of the world, home to a vibrant music scene, lovely parks, and great views. Not to mention that Milwaukee is known to celebrate everything, evidenced by its large number of festivals, block parties, and more.