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The best cities to live in your 20s

In your 20s, life can change - fast. You might just have come out of education, you might be starting a brand new career or you might be renting for the first time ever.

There’s a lot to think about. The city you live in now could decide how your job pans out, who your friends are, and even who you fall in love with. It needs to be somewhere good, which is why we’re here to help.

A metropolitan city skyline

When you’re in your 20s, your home priorities revolve around a few key things - good job opportunities, affordable rent and plenty of things to do. Though, through the excitement of moving, it’s important to remember to take out the right home insurance policy to protect your belongings. We’ve looked at all of this and more, giving each city a score for how it ranks in certain areas. Has the cost of a pint been included? You bet it has.

 

An index showing the top 30 best places to live in your 20s

San Francisco is the best city to live in your 20s

An image of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

According to its website, San Francisco is home to a little bit of everything. That’s just one of the many reasons why it tops our list. The Golden City scores well for rent prices. With an average one bed apartment costing £2,173 a month, only 36% of the city’s overall average monthly salary of £5,955. Transport is well priced too - a ride on the famous tram should only set you back £2.27.

But where San Fran really stands out is its culture. The city boasts a fantastic nightlife, offering 320 different hotspots for you to hit up. It’s also renowned for being incredibly inclusive, welcoming people of all backgrounds, races and sexualities to call it home.

Out of a total of 100, San Francisco scored 76.2.

 

Austin, Texas is the second-best place for 20-year-olds to call home 

An image of Austin Texas skyline

If you’ve been watching the latest series of Queer Eye, you’ll know all about what makes Austin so appealing. The Texas state capital is famous for its blues music scene, and is packed full of bars, clubs and live music venues to enjoy yourself in. There are 217 in total. Rent here is significantly cheaper than in San Francisco at only £1,509, costing 34% of the average monthly salary of £4,415.

On average, it costs 94p for a one-way ticket across the city, making it cheaper to travel in Austin than any other city we researched. So there’s no excuse not to go and explore its many venues, events and beautiful parks.

Austin scored 72.7 out of 100.

 

Portland is a green dream for 20-year-olds

 An image of Portland, Oregon skyline

In third place is Portland, Oregon, completing the USA’s dominance of our top three. The city is shadowed by snow-capped mountains, and that’s just the start of the stunning nature you’d be surrounded by if you lived here.

However, rent in Portland is a little steeper than in our top two - at £1,296, you’d be paying out 41% of your monthly salary of £3,142. The city scores four out of five for LGBTQ+ friendliness, offering 176 different nightlife options, and just £4.53 for a pint. We can’t think of much better than enjoying those views with a drink in hand.

Portland got 70.7 out of 100.

 

Vancouver, Canada makes it to fourth spot

An image of Vancouver, Canada skyline

North of the border in fourth position is Vancouver. It sits on Canada’s west coast, providing residents with stunning views across the sea and mountains. It’s one of the country's most densely populated cities, and also one of its most diverse, letting you experience incredible food, culture and entertainment.

All of that comes at a cost. The average price of living in Vancouver is £1,212, taking up 46% of your £2,624 monthly salary. With your leftover money, you might be able to afford a pint at £4.09 and good transport links at £1.75.

Vancouver’s score was 70.4 out of 100.

 

Chicago completes our top five for 20-year-olds

An image of Chicago, Illinois skyline at night

One of the USA’s largest cities, Chicago is also one of the best cities to live in for 20-year-olds. It pays a generous average monthly salary of £4,201, of which you’ll only have to pay £1,358 a month in rent. A pint is also fairly priced at £3.78.

The city is LGBTQ+ friendly, and with 462 nightlife spots to enjoy, it could be the perfect place to make yourself at home.

Chicago got a total score of 67.3 out of 100.

 

The most expensive cities for 20-year-olds to live in

An image of the New York skyline

It’s one thing living somewhere with things to do, but it's a totally different story when it comes to being able to afford them. Some of the most exciting cities in our survey are also some of the most expensive to live in.

We’ve rounded up the top priciest places, so you’ll know what you need to save.

New York is the most expensive city to live in 

A city so good they named it twice, but you might blink twice when you discover how much it costs to live there. A one-bed apartment in The Big Apple might set you back a hefty £2,314 a month, around 51.46% of the average £4,497.43 salary.

San Francisco cost £2,173 a month 

While San Francisco does tend to pay well, with an average monthly salary of £5,955, you can expect a big chunk of that to go out on rent. A typical one-bed apartment costs around £2,173 a month.

London might set you back £1,730 a month 

The London rental market is famously difficult to break into. A one-bedroom apartment in the UK capital costs an average of £1,730 a month, taking up 54.68% of your salary in the process. While you might be surrounded by things to do, they won’t come cheap either. The average pint is likely to cost you £5!

South America offers cheap living but low wages

If you fancied saving on your accommodation, look no further than South America. Cheap rent can be found in Buenos Aires (£232 a month), Bogota, Colombia (£268 a month) and Santiago, Chile (£313 a month). If that sounds too good to be true, it’s because really, it is. The wages in South America often aren’t enough to cover the price of rent, leaving you out of pocket before the month has even started.

 

The cities that pay the best average salaries

An image of San Francisco, California

When you start your career in your 20s, a lot of it is about getting your foot on the ladder, networking and showing everyone what you can do. If that also comes with a good monthly wage, even better. We’ve looked at the top three cities for salaries to help you decide where to start your job hunt.

Nowhere pays more than San Francisco 

A job in San Francisco pays an average monthly salary of £5,955.84, more than enough to enjoy all the city has to offer. Jobs in the city are rife in the retail sector, while finance and technology careers are also popular. Go 40 miles down the road and you’ll find Silicon Valley, home to some of the biggest tech companies on the planet.

San Francisco pays so much because jobs there often require specialist skills. If you’ve got what it takes, it could be a fantastic place to start looking.

You could earn £4,497 a month working in New York

A concrete jungle where dreams are made of, especially if those dreams are about earning good money. New York pays its workers an average of £4,497 a month, offering jobs in banking, entertainment, fashion and retail that you just couldn’t find anywhere else.

Hail a yellow cab and get down to The Big Apple if you want to make a name for yourself.

A job in Austin could pay £4,415 a month 

Completing our top three is Austin, Texas. It might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of job opportunities, but in recent years the city has been named one of the best places to start your career. There’s a thriving tech scene in the area, while jobs in life sciences and hospitality are also on the rise.

Austin is home to The University of Texas, so whether you want to gain further education or work in the sector, it could be the city for you.

 

The most activity-packed cities in the world 

An image of Beijing, China

So you’ve finished work and you’ve got an evening to yourself. What do you do? We’ve found the cities with the most activities in the world, giving you plenty of new things to try. Some have so much to do, you’ll barely have time for work.

There's more to do in Beijing than in any other city

Beijing has more on offer than any other city. The capital of China is packed with entertaining options, offering 3,394 activities to the people who live there. If you get bored of The Great Wall (which you won’t, promise) you can head to the old town and experience traditional Beijing life. You can also explore The Forbidden City, and sample some of the fantastic food the city cooks up every day.

One thing worth noting, though, is that Beijing is home to over 20 million people. For some attractions, you might have to queue.

Lisbon has 2,680 activities 

Another capital city with plenty to keep you entertained is Lisbon. The Portuguese city boasts 2,680 activities, including incredible museums, stunning nature and a bustling nightlife. The Oceanário de Lisboa is an ever-popular tourist attraction, and gives you an up-close look at the lives of mesmerising marine creatures.

If you prefer your entertainment on land, head to Alfama. This historic town dates back to 1200 BC, making it Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood and one definitely worth exploring.

There are 2,608 things to do in London 

If you’ve ever been to London, you’ll know how entertained all your senses will be.  You’ll never be stuck for something to do, from Big Ben and The London Eye, to the hidden gems like Camden Market and Hampstead Heath.

 

Does good looking mean good living? These are the most Instagrammed cities on the planet 

An image of London, England

Everyone loves being able to be house proud. But does that extend to being city proud too? We look at the cities snapped most on Instagram to see if there’s any correlation.

London is shared more on Instagram than any other city 

What’s not to gram in London? The city’s iconic skyline, its world-famous architecture and the occasional celebrity spot all help contribute to its impressive figure of 153,566,956 annual Instagram mentions. In our ranking it scored 60.4 out of 100 for somewhere for 20 year-olds to live, meaning it’s a picturesque place packed with opportunities.

Paris features 133,024,222 times on Instagram 

It’s said to be the most romantic city in the world, and it’s also the second most shared on Instagram. With a whopping 133,024,222 mentions on the picture sharing app, Paris’s beautiful streets and gorgeous shop fronts, all make this one city people can’t stop taking pictures of.

Paris scored 58.2 out of 100 in our survey, showing it’s good for more than just photo ops.

New York is on Instagram 116,742,236 times 

Skyscrapers, never-ending views, Broadway and steamy air vents all help propel New York into third position in our Instagram rankings. It’s a city with a photo waiting around every corner, with visitors capturing everything from the famous Empire State Building through to busy streets bursting with life.

The Big Apple got a total score of 54 out of 100 in our report.

 

Jessica Willock, home insurance expert at Confused.com, comments: “Whether it’s across the globe or closer to home, many young people choose their 20s as the perfect opportunity to relocate.

“There are many different factors to consider when moving including job prospects, cost of rent and the all important activity and nightlife in the city. Our guide to renting in the UK shows you everything you need to know. It covers all the renting basics, making it easy to get the keys to a place of your own, safe in the knowledge that you're doing everything right.

“With all the excitement of moving, getting the right home insurance cover is often easy to forget. Although your landlord should have insurance on the property, there won’t be cover for your own personal possessions. So it is important to take out the right tenants insurance to ensure your things are protected from fire, flood, damage or theft.”

 

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