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Twin Cities a Young Professionals Hotspot

July 16, 2012 By Jessica Klion, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Attracting college graduates is key to the success of most cities. Today, perhaps more than ever, cities need the diverse creativity of young professionals to remain competitive on the global market. For the past several years, common thought has been that young grads are flocking to the big cities on the eastern and western coasts of the country—New York City, Boston, and San Francisco to name a few. This thought, however, is not necessarily true.

Young people with college degrees are certainly moving to cities, but instead of moving to America’s mega cities, they are moving to slightly smaller, slightly less frenzied urban areas, many of which are in the Midwest and Sunbelt.

While the idea of living in glitzy Manhattan is exciting, the reality is rarely as good. Between the ultra competitive job market and the extraordinarily high cost of living (the average median income is $69,029, but adjusted for cost of living, its $44,605), making it in the big city is a challenge many fail to overcome. The museums, restaurants, and athletic attractions don’t make up for the $10 lattes, long commutes, and the hours spent at second and third jobs that are needed to pay the rent for a tiny 5-story walk-up.

According to Forbes, employment in the United States has shifted away from the public sector and into private business, with the major drivers of growth being the energy, technology, and manufacturing fields. This shift has led to the continued growth of energy-rich and technologically savvy cities across the country, such as Houston and Raleigh-Durham.

Along with being established strongholds in the current booming sectors of the economy, these cities offer an amenity filled lifestyle at a much lower cost of living compared to New York or San Francisco. Raleigh, for example, is number two on Forbes’ list of Best Places for Business and Careers and Houston tops NewGeography.com’s list of cities with the lowest cost of living.

A mix of glitz and simplicity, the Twin Cities are popular with young professionals. With their wide range of amenities, favorable job market, and generally low cost of living, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area is poised to continue to grow and attract young professionals into the future.

This year the Twin Cities were ranked 22 on the list of Best Places for Business and Careers, one notch ahead of San Fran, with the Big Apple not even making the list. Minneapolis sits at 23 on NewGeography’s list of cities with the lowest cost of living, and was number 6 on Businessweek’s list of Best Cities for New College Grads, ahead of all coastal metros except Atlanta and Washington D.C.

Several factors have contributed to the area’s strong position on these lists.

As one of the Midwest's biggest metro areas, the Twin Cities are home to 19 Fortune 500 Companies, all of which contribute favorably to the job market. These giant companies bring with them opportunities at all levels and in a wide variety of disciplines, while helping to ensure that the region’s population is both hardworking and innovative.

With numerous lakes and more parkland than any other cities of similar size, Minneapolis and St. Paul offer a variety of natural amenities. These natural amenities combined with the Cities’ cultural amenities, such as the Walker Art Center, the Guthrie Theater, and the four major league sports franchises, make the Twin Cities ideal for nature lovers and city lovers alike.

Ultimately, young people are seeking out cities where they have the opportunity to thrive, where they can be gainfully employed but still have opportunities for recreation that does not cost an arm and a leg. With the metro area’s recent investment in the light rail and transit-oriented development, Minneapolis and St. Paul are setting themselves up to become even more of a hot spot for college graduates looking to settle somewhere equally as fun and exciting, but not quite as expensive and stressful as New York City or San Francisco.

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