The Best UK Cities for Millennials

Millennials seek locations that are fun, forward-thinking and affordable. But as the current workforce and strongest link in our economy grow up, which UK cities are finding it easier to attract Gen Y than others?

The internet, global financial crises, rising house prices and the dreaded “B” word. Millennials have had a lot to adjust to in their young adult lives. Our recent study suggests that dealing with those hurdles could be easier, or harder, based on where they live.

To rank the UK’s 63 cities we looked at what’s really important to Generation Y. What work opportunities are available? Is there a fair cost of living? What are property prices like? And what fun stuff is there to do?

Taking these as our four main categories, we broke them down further, analysing data about graduate work prospects, employment rates, weekly earnings, a meal for two, gym membership, population age, Brexit remain votes, and property prices to buy and rent. In total there were 16 factors that helped us rank 63 UK cities.

The result is the Best Cities for Millennials Map.

Infographic showing the best University Towns

The five best cities for Millennials

1. Glasgow

Awarded the number one spot in our rankings, Millennials who want it all should head to Glasgow. Named a UNESCO City of Music in 2008, there’s no shortage of entertainment and festivals. But what’ll really have Millennials humming a happy tune is the price to buy a home. A one-bed property is £90,466, putting it well below the national average.

2. London

Sure, the cost of living in London is eye-wateringly high, but for the generation who want life-defining experiences, there’s no place like London. While there’s a never-ending supply of fun, taking the silver medal position means it offers more than just play. London’s good for career opportunities, too. Thirty-nine per cent of graduates find jobs, entrepreneurs will love the start-up culture, and the city has the highest average weekly earnings in the whole of the UK at £727 p/w.

3. Aberdeen

Third in our table, Aberdeen’s high 74% employment rate makes it an attractive option. For perspective, that’s the same employment levels as London. Plus, Aberdeen maintains healthy average weekly earnings of £597. Unlike England’s capital though, this city’s average rent rates are low (just £478) and one-bed properties cost (on average) £84,584.

4. Liverpool

With over 70,000 students calling Liverpool home, this is a city for the young. And young at heart. Although it just misses ranking in our top 10 for lifestyle (it’s number 11) Liverpool is a mecca for Millennial music lovers — in terms of history and current venues. It’s a city that can achieve the much-coveted Millennial work-life balance thanks to good weekly wages (average £512) and fair cost of living, coming in fourth in the whole of the UK.

5. Bristol

Portishead, Banksy and Aardman Animations — all meaningful names to a crowd of Millennials. And all from Bristol. A creative and culturally aware city, Bristol came sixth in the lifestyle rankings. For work, its high number of start-ups, 78% employment rate, and average weekly salaries of £547 make it an attractive prospect. The downside: high rent and property prices, but looking to nearby Gloucester (ranked sixth) could give Millennials all that they want.

Cities missing the Millennial must-haves

Some cities do a better job of attracting Millennials than others. Basildon, in Essex, is currently missing its Millennial mojo as it sits firmly at the bottom of our table.

Anyone fresh out of university is unlikely to find the opportunities they seek. A mere 2% of graduates find work here. Basildon also performs poorly for its cost of living (ranked 47) and lifestyle. Only making 53 in the lifestyle category, it lacks extra-curricular activities and delivered the UK’s second-lowest Brexit Remain voting figures. Just 31% voted remain.

Elsewhere, despite ranking 26, Dundee has the lowest employment rate in the UK at just 64%. Welsh cities wanting to attract more fresh-faced Millennials may also need to up their game. Currently, Cardiff, Swansea and Newport all rank the lowest for graduate hires (1%).

Cities On The Maybe Pile

Sometimes, finding the right place to live means compromising. For example, Millennials concerned about job security and fresh work opportunities should consider the South East.

Even though ranked 51, Crawley has the highest employment UK rate at 84.9% and the third-highest average weekly wage (£634), putting it just behind London and Reading. Nearby Worthing has the UK’s second-highest employment rate (83%) followed by Swindon with 81%.

The same is true of Cardiff. Although not great for graduate career opportunities, it ranks well for lifestyle. Millennials here can be confident there’s plenty to do, it has a low youth-claimant count — and the city voted remain.

One thing that’s clear from our map is the North-South employment rate divide. Notably, Warrington is the only Northern location to make the top 10.

Sources

To create this piece we compiled data from the following sources: Work and Employment Data - Business Start-ups 2016/ per 10,000 population (Centre for Cities), overtime hours worked and paid/ unpaid overtime (TotallyMoney Overtime Survey/ OnePoll), Employment Rate and Youth Claimant Count (Centre for Cities), Graduate Hires (Target Jobs), Average Weekly Workplace Earnings (Centre for Cities).