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These Are the 50 Best Cities for Gen Z To Live Well on a Budget

Cameron Huddleston

Generation Z is coming of age. The oldest among this generation born from 1997 to 2012 are now considered adults — which means they’re striking out on their own. As they move out of their parents’ homes and into the real world, they’ll have an opportunity to choose the city where they want to live.

Of course, that decision could be largely influenced by the college they attend or the job they get. But members of Gen Z would be smart to consider cities where they can live well on a budget so they can get ahead financially — and not have to rely on support from their parents as many millennials have.

To help Gen Zers find the best places to live, GOBankingRates analyzed the 200 largest U.S. cities based on several criteria. The study considered the population of 18- to 24-year-olds in those cities to determine whether they would be desirable places to live for young adults. In addition, the average cost of rent, groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation were examined. GOBankingRates added up the cost of those necessities then subtracted that amount from $29,920 — the average after-tax income of Americans ages 25 and younger — to see how much money would be left over each month after covering costs in those cities.

Each factor was scored, with average rent weighted triple, population and percentage of population ages 18 to 24 weighted double, leftover income weighted double and livability weighted double. The higher the score, the less affordable and desirable a city was.

Some clear trends emerged. For the most part, the analysis revealed that cities in the South and Midwest tend to be more affordable for Gen Zers.

50. Topeka, Kansas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 9.5%
  • Average monthly rent: $795
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,310.42
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,091.62
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,309.73
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,893.95
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,145.72
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,774.28
  • Livability: 63

49. Louisville, Kentucky

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 9.4%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,047
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,245.76
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $978.73
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,366.59
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,704.74
  • Annual cost of necessities: $20,859.81
  • Money left over after necessities: $9,060.19
  • Livability: 67

48. Austin, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.9%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,595
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,205.97
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,011.61
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,710.35
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,820.47
  • Annual cost of necessities: $27,888.39
  • Money left over after necessities: $2,031.61
  • Livability: 83

 

47. Pittsburgh

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 17.2%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,258
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,362.65
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $973.25
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,443.29
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,879.25
  • Annual cost of necessities: $23,754.44
  • Money left over after necessities: $6,165.56
  • Livability: 72

46. Tucson, Arizona

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 16%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,178
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,375.09
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $923.93
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,127.94
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,825.98
  • Annual cost of necessities: $22,388.93
  • Money left over after necessities: $7,531.07
  • Livability: 65

45. Cincinnati

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 13.6%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,160
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,312.91
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $946.94
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,082.49
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,800.26
  • Annual cost of necessities: $22,062.60
  • Money left over after necessities: $7,857.40
  • Livability: 68

44. Augusta, Georgia

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11.9%
  • Average monthly rent: $851
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,285.55
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,047.78
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,741.57
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,914.15
  • Annual cost of necessities: $18,201.05
  • Money left over after necessities: $11,718.95
  • Livability: 64

43. Cleveland

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11.2%
  • Average monthly rent: $925
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,312.91
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $902.01
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,983.05
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,743.31
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,041.28
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,878.72
  • Livability: 61

42. Greensboro, North Carolina

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 12.4%
  • Average monthly rent: $894
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,322.86
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,189.16
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,429.06
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,754.34
  • Annual cost of necessities: $18,423.41
  • Money left over after necessities: $11,496.59
  • Livability: 67

41. Little Rock, Arkansas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 8.8%
  • Average monthly rent: $855
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,228.35
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $953.52
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,704.63
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,746.99
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,893.49
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,026.51
  • Livability: 61

40. Madison, Wisconsin

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 21.3%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,372
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,205.97
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,026.95
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,784.18
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,974.78
  • Annual cost of necessities: $24,455.88
  • Money left over after necessities: $5,464.12
  • Livability: 70

39. Oklahoma City

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 9.3%
  • Average monthly rent: $922
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,228.35
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,298.76
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,130.78
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,783.73
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,505.62
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,414.38
  • Livability: 76

38. Murfreesboro, Tennessee

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 17.6%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,280
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,245.76
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,157.38
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,377.95
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,813.12
  • Annual cost of necessities: $23,954.21
  • Money left over after necessities: $5,965.80
  • Livability: 79

37. Spokane, Washington

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.9%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,215
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,439.75
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $898.72
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,914.87
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,436.53
  • Annual cost of necessities: $22,269.87
  • Money left over after necessities: $7,650.13
  • Livability: 69

36. Lafayette, Louisiana

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 13.1%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,098
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,310.42
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,065.31
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,380.79
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,611.05
  • Annual cost of necessities: $21,543.57
  • Money left over after necessities: $8,376.43
  • Livability: 73

35. Des Moines, Iowa

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.6%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,110
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,310.42
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,212.18
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,457.47
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,645.95
  • Annual cost of necessities: $20,946.02
  • Money left over after necessities: $8,973.98
  • Livability: 75

34. Richmond, Virginia

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 13.6%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,207
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,549.18
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,023.66
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,704.63
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,816.79
  • Annual cost of necessities: $22,578.26
  • Money left over after necessities: $7,341.74
  • Livability: 76

33. Clarksville, Tennessee

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 12.6%
  • Average monthly rent: $925
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,245.76
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,183.68
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,653.49
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,842.51
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,025.45
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,894.55
  • Livability: 70

32. Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 12.9%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,269
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,322.86
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,124.50
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,843.84
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,820.47
  • Annual cost of necessities: $23,339.66
  • Money left over after necessities: $6,580.34
  • Livability: 78

31. Roanoke, Virginia

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 8%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,005
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,285.55
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,131.07
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,383.60
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,803.93
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,664.16
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,255.84
  • Livability: 74

30. Columbia, South Carolina

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 27%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,015
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,285.55
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,143.13
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,576.79
  • Annual cost of utilities: $2,000.49
  • Annual cost of necessities: $20,185.96
  • Money left over after necessities: $9,734.04
  • Livability: 63

29. Lakeland, Florida

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.8%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,200
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,554.15
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,032.43
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,744.41
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,800.26
  • Annual cost of necessities: $22,531.25
  • Money left over after necessities: $7,388.75
  • Livability: 81

28. Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.3%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,292
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,176.13
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,126.69
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,650.65
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,857.21
  • Annual cost of necessities: $23,314.67
  • Money left over after necessities: $6,605.33
  • Livability: 80

27. Shreveport, Louisiana

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 9.6%
  • Average monthly rent: $847
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,176.13
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,037.91
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,937.59
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,710.25
  • Annual cost of necessities: $18,025.88
  • Money left over after necessities: $11,894.12
  • Livability: 66

26. Fayetteville, North Carolina

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 27.2%
  • Average monthly rent: $838
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,322.86
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,275.74
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,556.90
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,807.61
  • Annual cost of necessities: $18,019.11
  • Money left over after necessities: $11,900.89
  • Livability: 63

25. McKinney, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 7.7%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,461
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,310.42
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,062.02
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,960.32
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,840.67
  • Annual cost of necessities: $25,705.44
  • Money left over after necessities: $4,214.56
  • Livability: 90

24. Houston

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.2%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,364
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,310.42
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,028.05
  • Annual cost of transportation: $4,011.49
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,772.71
  • Annual cost of necessities: $25,490.67
  • Money left over after necessities: $4,429.33
  • Livability: 79

23. Plano, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 7.9%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,505
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,310.42
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,062.02
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,841
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,844.35
  • Annual cost of necessities: $26,117.80
  • Money left over after necessities: $3,802.21
  • Livability: 91

22. Toledo, Ohio

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11%
  • Average monthly rent: $829
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,255.71
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $940.37
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,769.98
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,785.56
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,699.62
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,220.38
  • Livability: 63

21. Columbus, Georgia

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11.8%
  • Average monthly rent: $779
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,285.55
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,013.80
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,590.99
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,910.48
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,148.83
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,771.18
  • Livability: 62

20. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 9.4%
  • Average monthly rent: $960
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,414.88
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,019.28
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,420.53
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,770.87
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,145.56
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,774.44
  • Livability: 73

19. Boise, Idaho

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.8%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,361
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,263.17
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,007.22
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,662.02
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,653.30
  • Annual cost of necessities: $23,917.71
  • Money left over after necessities: $6,002.29
  • Livability: 80

18. Edmond, Oklahoma

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.8%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,061
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,228.35
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,298.76
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,099.53
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,829.65
  • Annual cost of necessities: $21,188.30
  • Money left over after necessities: $8,731.71
  • Livability: 89

17. Laredo, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11.3%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,052
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,392.49
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $991.88
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,201.81
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,802.10
  • Annual cost of necessities: $21,012.28
  • Money left over after necessities: $8,907.72
  • Livability: 80

16. Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 16%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,023
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,310.42
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,313.01
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,457.47
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,695.55
  • Annual cost of necessities: $20,052.45
  • Money left over after necessities: $9,867.55
  • Livability: 80

15. Columbus, Ohio

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11.8%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,121
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,312.91
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $977.63
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,948.96
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,875.58
  • Annual cost of necessities: $21,567.08
  • Money left over after necessities: $8,352.92
  • Livability: 76

14. Indianapolis

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 9.9%
  • Average monthly rent: $987
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,255.71
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $948.04
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,948.96
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,656.97
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,653.68
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,266.32
  • Livability: 70

13. Springfield, Missouri

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 19.3%
  • Average monthly rent: $706
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,248.25
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,125.59
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,767.13
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,772.71
  • Annual cost of necessities: $16,385.68
  • Money left over after necessities: $13,534.32
  • Livability: 65

12. Evansville, Indiana

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10%
  • Average monthly rent: $826
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,205.97
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $882.28
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,465.99
  • Annual cost of utilities: $2,002.33
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,468.57
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,451.43
  • Livability: 69

11. Lexington, Kentucky

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 14.2%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,043
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,245.76
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $980.92
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,869.41
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,669.83
  • Annual cost of necessities: $20,281.92
  • Money left over after necessities: $9,638.08
  • Livability: 75

10. Gainesville, Florida

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 34.8%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,128
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,404.93
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,102.58
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,599.52
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,936.20
  • Annual cost of necessities: $21,579.22
  • Money left over after necessities: $8,340.78
  • Livability: 71

9. Akron, Ohio

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11.7%
  • Average monthly rent: $790
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,312.91
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $921.74
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,608.04
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,695.55
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,018.24
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,901.77
  • Livability: 69

8. San Antonio

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,184
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,205.97
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $999.55
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,321.13
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,743.31
  • Annual cost of necessities: $22,477.96
  • Money left over after necessities: $7,442.04
  • Livability: 80

7. Greenville, South Carolina

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 28.1%
  • Average monthly rent: $1,121
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,285.55
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,083.94
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,500.08
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,780.05
  • Annual cost of necessities: $21,101.63
  • Money left over after necessities: $8,818.37
  • Livability: 73

6. Amarillo, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 9.4%
  • Average monthly rent: $800
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,176.13
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,162.86
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,460.31
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,721.27
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,120.56
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,799.44
  • Livability: 78

5. El Paso, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 11.1%
  • Average monthly rent: $933
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,176.13
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $971.06
  • Annual cost of transportation: $3,056.92
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,783.73
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,183.82
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,736.18
  • Livability: 79

4. Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 10.1%
  • Average monthly rent: $940
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,205.97
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $882.28
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,642.13
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,666.16
  • Annual cost of necessities: $18,676.54
  • Money left over after necessities: $11,243.46
  • Livability: 76

3. Lubbock, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 19.1%
  • Average monthly rent: $998
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,176.13
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,147.51
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,332.46
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,717.60
  • Annual cost of necessities: $19,349.69
  • Money left over after necessities: $10,570.31
  • Livability: 78

2. Killeen, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 12.5%
  • Average monthly rent: $819
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,176.13
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $1,023.66
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,573.95
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,844.35
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,446.08
  • Money left over after necessities: $12,473.92
  • Livability: 79

1. Brownsville, Texas

  • Percentage of population 18-24: 12%
  • Average monthly rent: $858
  • Annual cost of groceries: $2,176.13
  • Annual cost of healthcare: $984.21
  • Annual cost of transportation: $2,826.80
  • Annual cost of utilities: $1,679.02
  • Annual cost of necessities: $17,962.15
  • Money left over after necessities: $11,957.85
  • Livability: 80

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Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best cities for Generation Z to live well on a budget by analyzing the 200 largest cities in the U.S. along the following criteria: 1) population ages 18 to 24 years old, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; 18- to 24-year-olds were used to be representative of Gen Z based on Pew Research’s age ranges for Gen Z — ages 22 and under — while those younger than 18 are excluded because they’re largely children living within their parents’ homes; 2) percentage of the population ages 18 to 24 years old, sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; 3) average rent, based on Zillow’s median monthly rent from January 2019 to July 2019; itemized costs of living for necessities, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places, such as 4) groceries; 5) healthcare; 6) utilities; 7) transportation; 8) amount of income leftover after paying for necessary costs of living, which is the sum of rent, groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation subtracted from $29,920, the mean after-tax income of Americans ages 25 and under, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey; 9) livability scores, sourced from AreaVibes. Each factor was scored, with average rent weighted triple, population and percentage of population ages 18 to 24 weighted double, leftover income weighted double and livability weighted double. All data compiled on Aug. 26, 2019.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: These Are the 50 Best Cities for Gen Z To Live Well on a Budget