Generation Z is growing up and moving out. The successors to millennials — born between 1997 and 2012 — are graduating, job hunting, and looking to strike out on their own in places where their dollar can stretch a bit further.

Relocation cost comparison site moveBuddha recently conducted a study that will help Gen Zers pinpoint the most ideal areas to live in based on multiple factors. This list features the top cities ranked according to a formula that includes employment opportunities in the top four fields for Gen Z (business, health professions, social sciences, psychology), city affordability (average area rent and value of the dollar), and youth-centric social factors (percentage of youthful population, educational attainment, and dating friendliness).

Among the findings was that Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Boston emerged as three of the top five cities with the best job prospects. Cincinnati, Sioux Falls, and Fargo offer affordability with both lower than average rents and more bang for your buck.

Data Reporting Specialist for moveBuddah Kristen Klepac broke down some more insights for Travel Noire. Find out who nabbed the top spot in the best cities for Gen Z job seekers.

1. Madison, WI

Photo Credit: Dave Hoefler

The capital of Wisconsin doesn’t only lead the pack in terms of job opportunity and affordability, it is also one of the best cities in terms of youthfulness.

“Here there is a much higher population of 18 to 34-year-old’s of which almost half have some form of higher education (Bachelors Degree or more),” shared Klepac.


2. Fargo, ND

Photo Credit: Jared Anders

Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and boasts a vibrant downtown area.

Said Klepac, “It is a great choice for those worried about affordability, due to both lower than average rents and each dollar earned stretches farther here than in cities like San Francisco. For example, in Fargo, the real value of $100 is $110.38 whereas in San Francisco it is $74.35.”

3. Columbus, OH

Photo Credit: Ellie Brown

Columbus has a bustling performance arts scene and is a great spot for foodies. But it also stood out as a top city for job opportunities. Columbus is particularly favorable to those interested in the social sciences, with over three times the national average for jobs in this field.

4. Lincoln, NE

Photo Credit: Michael Marsh

Lincoln, Nebraska offers more than great college football.  It is a great blend of affordability and youthfulness.

“Here the value of a Benjamin is a beefy $110.01 and while rents aren’t as low as in Fargo, they are still some of the lowest on the list at $752 monthly for a one-bedroom apartment,” explained Klepac. “As for the youthful factor: 29% of the local population is aged between 18-34.”

5. Missoula, MT

Photo Credit: Colter Olmstead

This Montana city also gets high marks for youthfulness and affordability. It might be thanks to the high proportion of the area’s universities and colleges. There 21 colleges within 200 miles, including the University of Montana.


6. San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward, CA

Photo Credit: Joonyeop Baek

The Bay Area is known for being pricey thanks to the thriving tech industry and its proximity to Silicon Valley. But where the San Francisco metropolitan area fails in affordability, it absolutely shines for job opportunities.

“Those looking for jobs in the social sciences have a plethora of opportunities with jobs in this field over five times the national average,” said Klepac. “Plus, those looking for jobs in business and psychology are also in luck as the number of occupations in these fields is about 1.5 times the national average in this metro region.”

7. Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, CO

Photo Credit: Erick Todd

Colorado is scenic, breathtaking, and an outdoor lover’s dream. Of course, there’s easy access to nature, but that’s not all this Colorado Metropole has to offer. The Mile-High City is youthful and a great spot for job opportunities in the field of psychology.

8. Burlington, South Burlington, VT

Photo Credit: Gautam Krishnan

Remote work truly had a moment during the pandemic and looks like it might be here for the long haul.

“This city is actually known by and large for its growing population of remote workers. So, it may be a good option for Gen Zers interested in remote work cities balanced with a youthful and educated local population,” suggested Klepac.

9. Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, MN - WI

Photo Credit: Tom Conway

Minneapolis is known for its parks and lakes, but this half of the Twin Cities is not the most affordable city on the list. It does offer a balance of job opportunities in three of the top Gen Z fields (business, health, and psychology).

10. Washington, Arlington, Alexandria, DMV

Photo Credit: Andy He
The DC Metro area may have fallen right at number 10 thanks to higher than average living costs, but it is the best city for job opportunities.