The Greatist.com -- When we released last year’s list of the top 20 cities for 20-somethings, some readers were pleased and some were less so. We were looking for ultra-cool spots where young adults could find jobs they love, unwind at happy hours, join sports leagues, and make new pals. This year we’ve updated that list, and many of the cities you suggested met our new criteria. In general, it’s hard to pinpoint what qualities 20-somethings go for in picking the perfect city. There are common factors such as cleanliness, park space, and efficient transit systems, but this year we expanded our scope: Does a city provide ethnic and cultural diversity? Can you walk in peace or are the streets packed with cars? We compiled this year’s list taking into account as many factors as we could to bring you the most accurate list of healthy cities for 20-somethings. Read on for our 2013 picks, presented in reverse alphabetical order, and let us know: Did we include your favorite?
1. Washington, D.C.
Average Temp (High, Low): 67, 49
Per capita Income: $43,993
Average Rent: $1,117
Median Age: 33.8
Our nation’s capital is the 10th greenest city in the U.S. and in the top 10 cities for overall well-being. D.C.-ers might be in such good shape because there are 800 miles of bikeways, plus there’s the Capital Bikeshare program, with bike pick-ups at over 150 stations in the area. It ranks second for happy hours, beating out even NYC. And with one of the top five transit systems, it’s easy to make it to all those said happy hours. There’s also roughly a bajillion college students with American, George Washington, and Georgetown Universities generating big numbers of 20-somethings. In fact, almost 30 percent of the city’s population is between the ages of 20 and 34, according to the U.S. census.
2. Tucson, AZ
Average Temp (High, Low): 82, 55
Per capita Income: $20,460
Average Rent: $669
Median Age: 33
Take a deeeeep breath. Tucson is one of the cleanest cities in the U.S., as measured by year-round particle pollution. That should come in handy when we’re panting heavily on a bike, hike, or simple jog. Surrounded by mountain ranges, this year-round sunny city is the place for outdoor activity aficionados, especially cyclists. A program called “Bicycle Boulevards” helps turn city streets into safe pathways for bikers. And unlike some of the other cities on this list (cough New York cough), Tucson’s not a place where we’ll end up blowing our whole paycheck: The city’s been rated one of the most affordable places to rent an apartment. Spend some of that extra dough at the restaurants, bars, and boutiques in the historic Fourth Avenue district.
3. Seattle, WA
Average Temp (High, Low): 59, 46
Per capita Income: $41,695
Average Rent: $923
Median Age: 36.1
This city made the list because its people are allegedly sleepless (and lack of sleep equals fun, right?). Seattle ranked fourth for number of happy hour-hosting establishments, and is well known for its coffee — it does have the first Starbucks location. For the bookworms out there, Seattle is one of the most literate cities in the U.S. with a huge number of bookstores and libraries per capita. For live music and performances, this city is fifth in the U.S. And as residents of the first city to put cops on bikes, Seattle’s locals bike to work more often than in any other city in the states. They also take advantage of all the parks and green space Seattle offers, which is probably why they’re some of the fittest people in the country.
4. San Francisco, CA
Average Temp (High, Low): 64, 51
Per capita Income: $46,777
Average Rent: $1,287
Median Age: 38.5
Heeeeey, sexy ladies! San Francisco has been rated the number one U.S. city to find a rich, single man. As for those who aren’t currently looking for love, sunny San Fran is also home to a range of cultural events and institutions. There’s the historic Fillmore Auditorium, the annual “Litquake” literary festival, and Urban Solutions’ 2 Blocks of Art, an art walk through different neighborhoods around the area. Perhaps most importantly, San Francisco residents are some of the healthiest people in the country, with lower rates of smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. They’re also more likely to break a sweat on the way to work, on foot, and on bikes.
5. San Diego, CA
Average Temp (High, Low): 71, 57
Per capita Income: $30,955
Average Rent: $1324
Median Age: 33.6
If you’re wondering where in the world Carmen is, we can’t promise you she’s in San Diego. However, we can inform you that this diverse city houses three of the top zoos and is ranked the third best city for quality (and quantity) of happy hours. San Diego has some solid nightlife establishments, especially in the Gaslamp Quarter — 16.5 blocks of happy hours galore, plus tons of clubs and live music venues. To pass the daytime hours, San Diego features 70 miles of beaches (mind you, it’s the seventh largest city in the U.S.), and it’s got some killer street art. Hungry after all that sightseeing? Snag a slice of the best pizza in the U.S., but don’t think about throwing that paper plate on the street: Nearly two thirds of the city’s residents are recycling-conscious.
6. Salt Lake City, UT
Average Temp (High, Low): 64, 40
Per capita Income: $26,700
Average Rent: $652
Median Age: 30.9
This city ranks as the best place for new grads to venture after leaving the dorm rooms. In fact, 17 percent of Salt Lake’s population is in their 20s. And don’t fret too much about finding a new job here, since the city’s unemployment rate is substantially lower than the national average (5 percent compared to 8.1 percent). As for ladies, Salt Lake is the second best city for women in terms of overall health. That’s possibly because the city boasts a higher-than-average number of physically active people (men and women), who hit up ball diamonds and golf courses, and follow Fido to the dog park. It’s also impressive that the city government is spearheading efforts to make local streets safer for bikers, and recently expanded its bike-share program.