What Are the Best Cities for Young Creatives?

best cities for young creatives

As rents around the country continue to climb, new college grads, those suffering from wanderlust, and those just looking for a fresh start are looking to relocate to a town that’s vibrant, yet affordable. But where to go? Previously-underappreciated cities like Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon have seen the cost of living climb steadily as more people have relocated to their regions, and old standards like Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco are getting downright unaffordable. Still some cities still offer the coveted balance of culture, an urban lifestyle…and rents that freelancers and other creative professionals can feasibly shell out.

Here are some of the best cities for young creatives, based on affordability, culture, and a couple of other important factors.

Denver, Colorado: With plenty of natural beauty for landscape and wildlife photographers, and a fairly young population (nearly half the population is between the age of 18 and 44), Denver is an active city with lots to do. Art galleries, museums, and music venues populate the neighborhoods, and the emerging tech scene in Denver makes it a great place for designers and other digital creators.

Minneapolis/St. Paul: When asked on Twitter recently where he’d move if he were just starting his career, author Austin Kleon noted that he’d look to the Midwest — a choice that data backs up pretty resoundingly. With a low unemployment rate (just about 5%), a cost of living that’s lower than the national average, and a high volume of small businesses, the Twin Cities offer a local-focused environment with many of the perks of a big city, without the cost. That is, assuming you don’t mind the weather.

Kansas City, MO: Not the one in Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, is one of the cheapest places in the U.S. to rent, while maintaining a vibrant arts community and even a freelance exchange. It’s also actively trying to court millennials, so you know you’ll be a welcome arrival.

Detroit: For the last few years, the revival of Motor City has largely been carried by young creatives, as artists, freelancers, and tech startups, who flocked to the once-vibrant city for the high vacancy rate and promise of a new beginning. Now, groups like I Am Young America and Imagination Station are actively investing in a city that’s still pretty dangerous and fairly underserved, both out of love of the city — and a love of daring to try something brave.

Tucson: Could the Southwest be the new Silicon Valley? Organizations like Startup Tucson and the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship seem to think so. With co-working spaces and meet-ups springing up across the sunny city, Tucson is wooing young entrepreneurs like crazy, and was even named one of the top tech hubs of last year. Top it off with really cheap rent, and Arizona starts to look mighty fine for young creatives with an idea and a love of the desert.

Think we missed one? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Hanna Brooks Olsen FOLLOW >

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.