Grand Rapids #2 on List of 25 Cities Millennials Can Afford & Want to Live in!

Photo by Holly Ravazzolo for the Riverfront Times

Forget San FranciscoWashington D.C. and New York City.

This is a list for the rest of us twenty- and thirtysomethings who can’t afford to spend $2,500 to live in a closet in Bushwick.

The Penny Hoarder has developed a definitive list of the top 25 coolest and most affordable cities for millennials. It’s based on a rigorous analysis of housing and local price data, economic statistics and something called a Coffee Fanatic Score. Yes, you read that right. (Thanks SmartAsset!)

You probably haven’t seen many of these cities on “Top Millennial City” lists before, and that’s for good reason.

These are cities where young people crippled with student loan debt can actually find workand afford a one-bedroom apartment, but also find a new brewery or wine bar on weekends. Their millennial populations are growing — or already sizable — and they tend to be better for walking or biking to work.

Did your city make the list?

Map of the best cities for millenials

No. 2 — Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ice skaters create a blur of motion on an outdoor skating rink in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Westhoff/Getty Images
Affordability Rank: 1

Millennial Happiness Rank: 14

Economy Health Rank: 5

Ashley Harvey, a 27-year-old writer for the equestrian publication Heels Down Magazine, was a little taken aback to find Grand Rapids on the list.

“It surprises me to consider it affordable because the housing market is growing so rapidly,” she said. “But I guess compared to either coast it’s not bad.”

Although rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $840, the cost of everything else plus the influx of millennials pushed Grand Rapids into No. 2.

That’s because of two words: beer and jobs.

“We’re known as Beer City USA. You can’t go more than a couple blocks without seeing a brewery,” Harvey said. “There’s also a big influx of good jobs.”

At 3.4% and falling, Grand Rapids has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

“There’s also a bunch of different music scenes, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s a millennial hotspot,” Harvey says. “East siders say that Grand Rapids is overshadowing Detroit’s comeback.”

Things to do: The 158-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park combines several millennial darlings: community, art, the outdoors and music. And, as mentioned above, craft beer is so big in Grand Rapids, there are actually hotel packages based around it.

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