Top-notch entertainment, a stable job market, and a wealth of recreational activities await young people in these nine cities around the world.
The city we live in impacts every aspect of our personal and professional lives — from access to jobs and health care to how likely we are to own a home and find a partner. Today, people in their 30s make up a considerable part of our country's population, which also applies to expats. Accessibility to air travel, flexible work arrangements, and the availability of digital nomad visas have allowed many young professionals to move abroad.
And as the life of an average 30-year-old has changed dramatically over the last 40 years, certain cities provide more opportunities than others. Cost of living, access to quality and affordable education and child care, high salaries, jobs, generous parental leave, recreational opportunities, and a good work-life balance are all factors we considered when selecting the nine best places to live in your 30s.
About a quarter of Denver's population is between 27 and 42 years old, and the city was the second most popular destination for millennials in 2019. With a lively craft beer scene, easy access to various outdoor activities, proximity to the mountains, an international airport, and a strong workforce, the Mile High City is a magnet for young people.
"Tech and energy jobs are pulling young workers into Colorado from many areas of the U.S., and once they arrive, they generally put down permanent roots," Gretchen Rosenberg, CEO of Kentwood Real Estate, told Travel + Leisure.
She explained that while first-time buyers may find the Denver city market expensive — the median home value in February 2023 was $560,000 — plenty of affordable options exist in the city's suburbs. Another reason to buy your first home here? Rosenberg added, "Property taxes are generally more reasonable than many other cities of similar size. Denver is a great choice if someone is looking for fun, sun, and spectacular mountain views."
New York City, New York
"One's 30s are for exploring all that life has to offer while growing a career. There's no better city in the world than New York City to accomplish that," said Matthew Hughes, a Manhattan broker with Brown Harris Stevens.
The diversity and top-notch entertainment in New York are unrivaled. According to a survey by MoneyNerd, the Big Apple is also among the top five cities in the world for work-life balance, ranking the highest in job opportunities and average salary. Unfortunately, the city also has a notoriously pricey real estate market. But this shouldn't discourage first-time buyers.
Hughes explained, "While it is expensive, we have plenty of beautiful and residential neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx at more reasonable rates than Manhattan. Given how resilient residential real estate has been in New York City, I firmly believe there is also no better place to make an investment."
The largest Swiss city regularly ranks among the top for best work-life balance and overall standard of living. Residents there make, on average, $82,191 a year and score high on happiness ratings, according to a recent survey. Zurich also has an excellent health care system, plenty of jobs across several industries, and great infrastructure. Plus, it's very safe.
And if you like spending time outdoors, this is definitely the city for you. Hiking, biking, mountain climbing, and skiing are all favorite pastimes for locals and visitors. Another bonus? Since the city is centrally located, it's a quick flight from other major European destinations.
Last but not least, the majority of the region's population was between 30 and 39 years old in 2021.
Austin is a magnet for people in their 30s. In fact, the median age here is 35.8 years, and the Texas capital was among the top cities that attracted the most millennials in the U.S. in 2019, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The reason? "You name it, it's here: music, comedy, food, art, sports, nature, or the opportunity to just be a workaholic," Shay Millheiser of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty in Austin told T+L.
Those who would like to stay here permanently are in luck, too, as the city's real estate market has remained relatively affordable.
"Austin is a great place to own a first home because there are options at every price point within 30 to 45 minutes of almost anything the city offers," Millheiser explained. According to Zillow, the median home value in the city is $561,613, but according to Millheiser, prices in nearby suburbs average around $350,000.
Young people love the Danish capital because it's safe, has great health care, affordable public transportation, and a good education system. Plus, Danish people self-assess as one of the happiest in the world, which makes sense given employees work, on average, 25.9 hours a week and get 25 days off a year (not including public holidays).
By law, new parents in Denmark get 52 weeks of parental leave, and child care is subsidized, so kindergarten tuition doesn't exceed the equivalent of $590 in Danish krone. So, what do Copenhagen residents do in their free time? They explore the city's many parks, museums, and restaurants. And even better, Copenhagen is bike-friendly.
As one of North America's most livable cities, Vancouver offers many social benefits for people in their 30s: great health care and education, low unemployment, safety, and a world-class entertainment and arts scene. And that's on top of Canada's generous parental leave, which is certainly an important factor for those wanting to start a family. Postcard-worthy views are easy to find here, too, with the North Shore Mountains and Pacific Ocean as its backdrop.
"Vancouver is home to a growing tech sector, including both startups and established employers like Microsoft, E.A., and Amazon," Jonathan Cooper, president of Macdonald Real Estate Group, shared with T+L. "Neighborhoods that combine access to amenities with condominium or townhome offerings include Mount Pleasant, Fraser Street, and Yaletown."
"Portland is pet-friendly. It's bike-friendly. It's kid-friendly...We have access to the mountains, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Oregon coast — all within one to two hours. A plethora of outdoor adventures await — from fishing, camping, hiking, wind sports, skiing, we really have it all," Kathryne Psihogios of Cascade Hasson Sotheby's International Realty told T+L.
Unlike many major metro areas along the West Coast, Portland's real estate market also favors first-time buyers. Millennial homeowners grew by 146 percent in the city in the last five years.
"Depending on budget, there are several great Portland neighborhoods that are attracting the 30-something buyers," said Aimee Virnig, principal broker at Windermere Real Estate. "For larger budgets, we are still seeing a desire to be in the inner core — Irvington, Laurelhurst, Alameda, Hawthorne, and Sellwood. But many first-time buyers don't have unlimited budgets. For this group, we are prioritizing what's most important — size of home and yard, proximity to work and schools — and finding some great fits in neighborhoods like Cully and Roseway in Northeast Portland, which offer older bungalows and craftsman homes, and Parkrose and Argay Terrace in outer Northeast Portland, where there's a nice stock of mid-century properties on larger lots."
Stockholm consistently ranks as one of the cities with the highest quality of life in the world, thanks to its stable economy, excellent public transportation, many parks, and top-notch health care and education systems. As the seat of the Swedish royal family, the city is also home to many historical landmarks and cultural institutions, transforming it into a haven for history and art enthusiasts.
"Stockholm is surrounded by natural beauty, with numerous parks, lakes, and forests offering opportunities for hiking, biking, swimming, and other outdoor activities," Anders Elbe of Snellman Sotheby's International Realty told T+L. "During the winter, there are also opportunities for ice skating, skiing, and other winter sports."
Elbe explained that Stockholm's real estate market remains stable, so it's an excellent place for investing and building wealth over time. He added that the median price for a single-family home in the city is around 6.8 million SEK (approximately $659,000 USD).
Our nation's capital has become a buzzing hub for young people, with entire neighborhoods popping up and transforming the city. The main draw for people in their 30s remains the strong and stable job market, which ensures a high quality of life. D.C. also offers plenty to do year-round — in the summer, residents head to the beaches of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina. And in the winter, West Virginia and Pennsylvania offer the perfect conditions for skiing and snowboarding.
"It's hard to imagine a more ideal place to buy a first home than Washington D.C., particularly in your 30s," Andrew Pariser, a broker at Long & Foster Real Estate, told T+L. "And when thinking of future resale value, since this is the nation's capital, real estate prices tend to be more impervious to the swings we see in other areas of the country."
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