The Best Cities for Millennials in the Midwest


The coronavirus pandemic has prompted Americans to move in droves. For some, low mortgage rates represented a great opportunity to buy a new home. For others, permanent remote work has offered more flexibility to live further away from their job.

If you are a millennial (someone born between 1981 and 1996) and considering moving on your own, consider buying your next home in one of these great Midwestern cities.

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Columbus, Ohio

The capital of Ohio has a population of 913,921. Of course, it’s right within the city limits. The Columbus metropolitan area is ranked 28th in the United States, with a population of approximately 2.4 million. And it is growing rapidly, with a population of 3 million expected by 2050.

With all of these residents comes a ton of opportunities. Columbus has something for everyone, including:

  • A hopping restaurant scene
  • Accommodation options galore
  • Employment and education opportunities
  • The best of health
  • Sports

Speaking of sports, the Columbus area is home to 50 colleges and universities, with the top spot of course being Ohio State University. Besides elite college football and Buckeyes basketball (clearly no bias here), Columbus also owns the Columbus Crew professional football team, the Columbus Blue Jackets professional hockey team, and the Columbus Clippers baseball team. AAA. So sports fans will find a team they can root for in any season.

Besides the sports that these colleges bring to the area (come on Bucks!), The abundance of colleges, as well as a plethora of hospitals (15 by my count) hold plenty of job opportunities in the city. There are also many other large employers who reside in Columbus. Some of them include:

  • JPMorgan Chase
  • At national scale
  • Etna
  • Honda
  • L Brands (mother of Express, Victoria’s Secret, etc.)
  • Huntington Bank
  • AEP

More good news ? Columbus is on The Ascent’s list of the best cities for high wages and low cost of living in the Midwest. This means that the money you make living in Columbus will go further than most other major metropolitan areas in the United States.

Des Moines, Iowa

Granted, Des Moines probably isn’t the first (or second, or third, or even fourth) city that comes to mind when you think of opportunities in the Midwest. But for those looking to advance their careers, Des Moines might be the right choice. In recent years, Forbes has ranked Des Moines as the fifth best career and business city in the nation, containing plenty of job opportunities, with an emphasis on financial services and agribusiness. The Des Moines metropolitan area has a current population of just 552,000, so the competition for coveted job opportunities is nowhere near as great as it would be in other major cities. Some of Des Moines’ biggest employers include:

  • Well fargo
  • HealthPartners UnityPoint Health
  • Senior Financial
  • Hy-Vee
  • MercyOne
  • John deere

Like Columbus, Des Moines was also on our list of the best cities for high wages and low cost of living in the Midwest. In fact, Des Moines took the top spot, which means your income in this city will increase more than your spending than anywhere else in the Midwest.

However, you don’t just have to work to the bone when you live in Des Moines. The city is also home to many new wave-style restaurants, a fun music scene, and a love of the arts, even with a famous annual arts festival. For millennials looking for plenty to do in a decently sized city but still appreciate the ability to expand, Des Moines just might be their rough diamond.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Also earning a spot in our top cities for high wages and low cost of living in the Midwest, Minneapolis is another great landing place for millennials. According to data from the University of Minnesota, once people land in Minnesota, they usually don’t want to leave. The Twin Cities region (Minneapolis / St. Paul) ranked first in the top 25 metropolitan areas for retaining its professional workforce.

The largest city in question here, the Minneapolis metropolitan area, has a population of approximately 3.65 million. But nestled in the land of 10,000 lakes, it’s always easy to get away from the crowds and discover nature.

In fact, Minneapolis is known for having a bit of everything. Job opportunities? Yes, especially if you are interested in areas such as high tech, financial management or engineering. Low cost of living? To verify. Urban development? Absoutely. Outdoor activities? For sure. Sports, arts and entertainment? No problem.

Minneapolis is also home to many educational and health care opportunities, with 11 colleges and dozens of well-ranked hospitals in and around the city. Some of the city’s biggest employers include:

  • Target
  • Lucas
  • Coustic-Glo International
  • American Bank
  • Medtronic
  • Xcel Energy
  • General Mills

Opportunities abound in the Midwest, and each city offers something a little different for millennial homebuyers looking to relocate. Whether you’re looking for a mid-sized, large, or even larger metropolitan area, there’s a good chance you’ll find something “right” among Columbus, Des Moines, and Minneapolis.

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