As with every generation, certain cities become sought-after destinations based on its collective priorities. Gen Z is no different, and as they continue to age into adulthood, their budget-minded search for stability, walkability and great weather has turned several cities across the U.S. into hot spots.
Taking all this into account, here’s a look at 10 of the best, affordable Gen Z-friendly cities with great weather.
The Queen’s City already has a high population in the Gen Z set, with more flocking to it every day. There’s a competitive home-buying market, which is high for the state of Ohio but lower for the national average. For renters, the average one bedroom is just over $600 a month, and the cost of living is well under the national average. The weather has all four major seasons, but it rarely gets extremely cold in the winter or hot in the summer.
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Greensboro, North Carolina
An active city with a friendly, small-town feel, Greensboro’s low cost of living makes North Carolina’s third-largest city another popular city for Zoomers. Known as Tournament Town, Greensboro has an abundance of athletic venues. It’s also known for short, cold winters and long summers, with partly cloudy skies year-round.
San Antonio, Texas
Almost one in four renters in San Antonio is a member of Gen Z, drawn in part by the city’s unique culture and its affordability. There’s also the weather, which includes 300 days of sunshine with very mild winters. It also has major attractions like the Riverwalk and the Alamo, both located right downtown alongside universities, museums, and countless festivals celebrating the city’s unique history.
Nestled between Dallas and Fort Worth, the city of Arlington, Texas doesn’t have quite the same subtropical climate as San Antonio. Still, it offers much of the same weather that makes the Alamo City such a draw. The city’s tech industry has made Arlington a hub for Gen Z activity, as has its sports scene, given it’s the home of both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys. There’s also no shortage of things to do for free, making it an ideal location for the budget-minded.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Like Greensboro, Raleigh has long, hot summers and short winters. Moreover, it ranks high in terms of quality of life, which is a big part of the appeal to Gen Z. A big city and small town at the same time, the quaint feeling of community, and a lower cost of living than the national average.
A coastal city that was founded in 1682, Norfolk, Virginia has no shortage of history going back a century before the Revolutionary War. Today, it boasts more than 7 miles of public beaches, along with world-class museums, unique retail shops, and of course, historical artifacts. The weather tends to lean on the warm side, but the proximity to the water helps keep it partly cloudy year-round.
Fort Worth, Texas
The third and final entry from the Lone Star State, this western half of the DFW Metroplex is drawing in young people to the point that homeowners under the age of 35 make up more than 15 percent of the total market. Compared to Dallas, the other half of the metroplex has barely over 10 percent. Given its a neighboring city to Arlington, it offers the same warm, sunshine-filled weather throughout the year.
Another city filled with US history, Pittsburgh boasts some of the most temperate weather on the list, with four seasons and a general lack of extreme hot or cold temperatures. Steel City also has more than 60 colleges and universities, 1,600 tech firms, and a downtown that regularly ranks among the country’s best. Cost of living is low, particularly when it comes to home ownership. Coupled with the opportunities the city offers, it’s easy to understand its growing popularity among Gen Z.
The city that’s home to the country’s highest concentration of millennials continues to be popular with the generation after. While the winters are known to get cold, the summers rarely get warmer than the low 80s, which helps balance things out. As far as opportunity, the city’s software developing and publishing industries are some of the strongest nationwide, and the cost of living is below the national average.
One of the fastest growing cities in the country, Jacksonville offers a lower cost of living, a booming job market, and affordable housing for renters and homeowners. While the summers tend to be long and humid, the fact it’s on Florida’s east coast provides plenty to do.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best cities for Gen Z to live on a budget of $3,000 by analyzing 70 of the largest cities in the U.S. along the following criteria: (1) population aged 20 to 24 years old, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey; 20 to 24 year-olds were used to be representative of Gen. Z based on Pew Research’s age ranges for Gen. Z — ages 25 to 10; (2) percentage of the population aged 20 to 24 years old, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey; (3) average rent, based on Zumper median monthly rent from January to August 2022; itemized costs of living for necessities, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places, such as (4) groceries cost of living; (5) healthcare cost of living; (6) utilities cost of living; (7) transportation cost of living; which were then factored out by the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure survey and combined to get (8) monthly cost of neccesities. GOBankingRates also found (9) livability scores, sourced from AreaVibes. Each factor was scored, with average rent weighted doubled, monthly cost of necessities weighted 5x population and livability doubled. All data compiled on Sept. 19, 2022.