San Francisco. New York City. Boston.
Sure, these tech hubs count as some of the hottest job markets in the country. But they are also among the most expensive — and affordable rents are often far from the action.
So where can a young professional find a solid footing on the career ladder, a lively entertainment scene, access to the outdoors, and enough of a paycheck to enjoy what the city has to offer?
One corner of the country that checks all of those boxes, according to SmartAsset, is Reno.
The Biggest Little City was ranked the 12th-best city in American for young professionals, according to a May 18 study published by the financial technology company.
The only other cities in the West that made the top 15 were Boise, Idaho (No. 10), and Seattle (No. 14).
The study found that the top hot spot for young professionals is Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
In the study, SmartAsset compared the largest 150 U.S. cities across nine categories, including unemployment rate, cost of living, entertainment options and percentage of the population between ages 25 and 34, among other factors.
“Reno is an amazing area for young professionals and there’s so much opportunity here that wouldn’t be available somewhere like San Francisco or New York City,” said Audrey Quint, president of the Reno Tahoe Young Professionals Network.
Four years ago, Quint, a Fallon native, became an owner of an American Family Insurance agency in Reno. She said Northern Nevada’s tight-knit and supportive community, as well as the state’s business-friendly environment, helped make that possible.
“It’s a lot more cost-effective to be able to start a business here,” she said. “And I feel Reno entrepreneurs have a lot of heart here and we’re very supportive of one another and here to help each other. With young professionals, especially, I feel like it’s ‘community over competition.’”
Aside from the career and entrepreneurial opportunities, the rich quality of life the Reno area offers is also a major pull for young professionals, said Taylor Russo, board member of the Reno Tahoe YPN.
“I think it’s a hidden gem that’s slowly getting more exposed,” said Russo, a loan officer at Guild Mortgage in Reno. “People are finally catching on how cool Tahoe is and how central Reno is. There’s plenty here to do without the big city issues like traffic, and housing is relatively affordable compared to our surrounding areas.”
Russo, who grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, attended the University of Nevada, Reno. While in school and upon graduating, Russo said he immediately saw the benefits Reno provided new graduates taking the first steps into their careers.
“The business community is uniquely friendly and that makes it fun and easy for young professionals to navigate and connect and meet people,” Russo said. “It was really easy networking and kind of job hop and move myself around in my career here.”
Quint, too, feels the networking opportunities make Reno an attractive market.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of young professionals that spend their evenings after work or lunches going to these networking events,” she said. “And they’re there to help one another and create connections and help leverage one another’s resources and help just lift each other up and help build one another’s businesses.”
Quint feels the pandemic has also raised the appeal of Reno for young professionals; especially Californians who want to either move their business or can work remotely.
“I have a number of clients,” Quint said, “that I’ve seen over this last year explaining that they’re young, they’re ready to finally make decent money, they’re ready to buy a home, and they’ve been so priced out of the markets in LA and the Bay Area — and really anywhere in California.
“With businesses allowing their employees to work remotely and that becoming normalized, I’ve seen a lot of people take the opportunity to move over here.”