Writer, editor, and millenial Nona Willis Aronowitz spent six weeks traveling the country in search of the next crop of livable cities for twenty-somethings—places where you can do dreamy things like go to a record store, start a business, get a job, find a date, make art, start a family, and maybe even contribute to your 401(k):
My generation, the Millennials, are infamously the first Americans who are not necessarily expected to do better than their parents. Having come of age during the Great Recession and now a long-lived weak job market, the assumption is not only that we’ll be less wealthy, but that the traditional markers of adulthood will be delayed. Or never achieved at all.
Yet this worry also assumes today’s twentysomethings are aiming for the same things as previous generations: either to make it big in the major cities that have traditionally held the promise of success, or to settle down in the house with the white picket fence in the suburbs. Some of us certainly still yearn for this paradigm, but most of us are adjusting our expectations. We’re realizing that those big, bustling cities have become unaffordable for those of us just starting out. And the house in the suburbs, with its long commutes and high gas bills, doesn’t fare much better. So where does a Millennial turn?
Her first stop, Omaha, Neb., is up on Atlantic Cities today, and full of hope, with more cities to come in the next two weeks. These places, like Pittsburgh, Pa., and Milwaukee, Wis., make living the dream seem so not so far-off and impossible after all (although if anyone has figured out what “living the dream” really means in practice, please let me know).