The 18 best cities for those in their 20s

When you're in your 20s, settling down with a mortgage and a family can seem a long way off. You might want to spread your wings, try living in a few different cities, pursue your career goals or even study in a new, exciting city. You're ambitious, free-spirited, and maybe a bit idealistic - and there are some amazing cities that are perfect for anyone in their 20s. We've listed our top 18 - in no particular order - where will you end up?

#1. London

Renowned for its culture, fashion and commerce, the UK's capital city is a diverse place indeed - did you know that almost 300 languages are 'significantly spoken' in London today? The city is home to 43 universities, attracting students from across the globe, and whilst it may be expensive to live in the centre, there are affordable apartments to rent in many neighbourhoods. The nightlife, culture and shopping here ensures London remains a popular choice for 20-somethings from worldwide!

#2. Paris

Perhaps the most romantic city in the world, Paris has long been associated with art, culture, fashion and of course, love! The beautiful architecture, arts and culture and nightlife here ensures the city has earned its reputation as a hot spot for the young and hip. Nowadays it's not just free-spirited artists and young creatives who call Paris home; the city attracts those looking to enjoy the fantastic work-life balance the French are known for.

#3. New York

It's 'The City That Never Sleeps' and with good reason - NYC is the ultimate party city. Everyone should experience it at least once, and it's home to some of the most diverse neighbourhoods of any city on the planet, with over 800 languages spoken. Rents in NYC may be steep, but whatever you're looking for, you'll find it here.

#4. San Francisco

San Fran may have a high cost of living, but it's also packed with 20-somethings out for a good time. Known for its arts scene, temperate weather and beautiful architecture, you'll also find that San Francisco is home to some amazing breweries and bars.

#5. Edinburgh

Scotland's capital city is home to more listed buildings than anywhere else in Europe, which makes for some pretty stunning walks. Known as 'The Athens of the North', it's here that the world's largest international arts festival takes place every August, and there's always something happening the rest of the year. In a survey carried out in 2013, Edinburgh was listed as the best city in the UK for job opportunities, so this is the place to be if you're unemployed!

#6. Chicago

Winters in Chicago can be harsh, but the city has plenty of beautiful parks where you can enjoy a picnic or a morning run during the warm spring and summer months. The drinking scene here is amongst the best in the US, with an extensive range of bars to choose from, whatever your scene.

#7. Rome

Rome has to be one of the world's most cultural cities, so if you're into art, culture and history, prepare to fall in love. Did we mention the amazing Italian food? Pizza, pasta and gelato are just the start - there are plenty of local delicacies that you're going to become obsessed with. The climate here is warm too, and there are plenty of beaches just a short drive away where you can relax as well as cafes, bars and clubs that stay open until the wee small hours.

#8. Montreal

Montreal may not be the first city to spring to mind when you think of moving, but the growing freelance scene here means that any 20-somethings considering a freelance lifestyle will do very well for themselves here. Yes, the winters are freezing, but the city is home to 19 eclectic boroughs that are in turns arty, bohemian, historic and commercial. Just make sure you brush up on your French!

#9. Liverpool

According to a poll carried out in 2013, Liverpool is the 4th best UK city for those in their 20s. The cost of living is lower here than some other UK cities and overall the work-life balance is good - although only 17% of those aged 18 to 30 own a property.

#10. Cardiff

The same poll listed Cardiff as the top city in the UK for 20-somethings to call home, based on a combination of employment opportunities, low cost of living and high wages - the average salary here is £21,585 a year - and there's an excellent work-life balance, not to mention plenty of arts, culture and nightlife!

#11. Newcastle

A centre for arts, business and sciences, Newcastle has a comparatively low cost of living compared to some other UK cities - in fact the cost of living here is 21.84% less than in London. Combine that with an excellent university, array of affordable bars and pubs plus plenty of arts and culture, and it's easy to see why Newcastle is a popular choice for bright young things.

#12. Brighton

Sun, sea, sand and ......well, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Brighton is home to a diverse population - it's the ' Gay Capital of Britain' according to the Office of National Statistics. But you don't have to be gay to embrace life in one of the UK's most vibrant cities. An easy commute from London, Brighton attracts a young, hip crowd of professionals, commuters and students who come here for the more-affordable-than-London rents, fantastic nightlife and (occasional) sunshine.

#13. Leeds

The recent poll carried out in 2013 listed Leeds as the best place for young 20-somethings to own a home - 35% of those surveyed owned their own property in the city. An affordable cost of living plus a compact city centre - it's easy to walk from one side of the city to the other in about half an hour - ensures Leeds remains a popular choice. Street food here is really something to talk about - the monthly World Feast on the High Street is a must, and the city's not short on cultural attractions either, with the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery showcasing regularly changing exhibitions.

#14. Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is one of the world's 20 largest cities and it's known as the 'Paris of South America' - with good reason! Stunning architecture and culture ensures you'll never be bored in Buenos Aires - the Buenos Aires International Book Fair is hosted annually and is one of the world's top 5 book fairs.

#15. Amsterdam

Ranked as the second best city to live in on the planet (quite an achievement!) Amsterdam is beautiful, cultural and historical yet has one foot firmly in the 21st century. Alongside historical and cultural attractions such as the Anne Frank Museum, you'll find cafes, wine bars and shops to rival any European city; not to mention the infamous Red Light District. Fancy wandering around second hand bookshops, enjoying a coffee by the canal or shopping in vintage boutiques? Amsterdam has all this and more.

#16. Berlin

A long list of famous inventors, scientists, composers and musicians have called Berlin home, and the high standard of living plus excellent employment opportunities make the city an attractive prospect for young graduates. The creative industries in particular are well represented in the city, contributing around 20% to the city's gross profit, with opportunities in architecture, advertising, film and music to name a few. 

#17. Prague

There's no denying Prague is a stunning city but that's not the only reason why 4.1 million tourists visit here each year. The capital of the Czech Republic is renowned for its cultural attractions as well as its affordable beer. Here you'll find historical exhibits, cinemas, theatres and 10 major museums. Prague is the economic and political capital of central Europe and when the working day is done, you'll find plenty to see and do - it's also surprisingly affordable to dine out in the city.

#18. Dubai

Dubai has become known as one of the most glamorous (and wealthiest) cities in the world. In recent years it has been transformed into a powerful cultural and business hub, with many well-known UK companies having a presence here. It's in Dubai that you'll find the Burj Al Arab, one of the tallest hotels in the world. But part of the city's appeal is that there are still traditional areas which complement the cosmopolitan vibe in the more modern parts of the city. Add sandy beaches, amazing nightlife and year-round hot weather and there's nowhere else to be!

If you're in your 20s and considering a move to a new city in 2016, the new year is a great time to start doing some research - we hope this has given you a little inspiration to get you started!


​READ THIS NEXT: Are you living in the right city?

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 28th Dec 2015 at 11:14
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