Big cities are crowded, competitive and challenging.
In other words, they are exactly where 20-somethings should live.
“When you’re stacked up against your peers, you can really measure yourself and see how you’re doing,” said Coltrane Curtis, co-founder and managing partner of Team Epiphany, a brand solutions agency in NYC. “The city serves as an excellent yard stick.”
Look at Washington, DC – along with NYC, it’s the best place for college grads to start careers.
Cuts in federal spending have created a fierce job market where every position is highly prized. And in San Francisco, you need to earn $29.83 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment.
Whatever “big city” you pick (every state has one or two), you will be battle-tested and prepared for the rigors of adulthood.
Here are 11 reasons why.
1. Big cities make you grow up quickly
One week in a “big city” and you realize people are less compassionate to your issues and more concerned with their own. It’s not the cozy, safe college campus you once knew. That’s why there are 24 things all Millennials need to realize about the real world.
Big cities have an edge to them. Only the strong succeed.
2. Big cities put you in another gear
The minute you walk out the door each morning, you go. You blow past the crowds to make the bus before the door closes, scurry across an intersection to avoid a wave of oncoming traffic and hustle in the office because, well, everyone else moves fast too. That’s called “grit.”
The ability to work quickly will then follow you the rest of your career.
3. You deal with massive egos
Where do “important” people work? At the top of skyscrapers in big cities, that’s where. As a 20-something, it can feel like “The Devil Wears Prada” as you appease top executives and their often arrogant demands.
One day, you’ll look back and laugh. One day, you’ll realize how “that crazy boss” made you strong enough to handle anyone.
4. You say hello to the world
Big cities are full of opportunity so 20-somethings from seemingly every country descend on them. Soon enough, you befriend people from all walks of life (foreign and American), broaden your worldview and begin to understand where you fit in this giant spinning orb called Earth.
Plus, if you live in DC you’ll eat Peruvian chicken. And life will never be the same. Specifically this place.
5. You learn to budget your money
If you need to make almost $30/hour for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, then money will be tight. A lot.
Plus, everything costs more in a metro area. Rent, food, clothes. It’s humbling to say “Don’t think I can go out tonight. Need to save a little.”
No, you can’t pay the bills with a reality check, but it’s worth a hell of a lot.
6. You get knocked down
Some jerk at the office will tear you apart when you make a mistake. Some crazy landlord will scream at you for loud music (even though it wasn’t). Some hotshot businessman will actually knock you to the ground as he runs to catch the subway — while on the phone — at 5:07 pm.
Good. I hope you pick up a few bumps and bruises. You’ll heal and be tougher for it.
7. Big cities have the job you want
A recent study from Indeed.com and Apartment Guide (full Apartment Guide study here) finds places like NYC, Chicago and Houston hire the most entry-level managers ($53,000), software engineers ($72,000) and accountants ($30,000).
Want to kickstart a career? Start your schooling in a big city.
8. Huge ideas happen in a crowded place
Young professionals in cities like Boston live there because they want the action. They thrive on it.
So when two MIT students whir in the same downtown long enough, they eventually crash into each other and produce brilliant ideas like Dropbox.
9. Big cities make you live with less
Smaller apartment = less furniture. Smaller bedroom = less mattress. Smaller closet = less clothes.
In a big city, you learn to sacrifice. In exchange, you receive the perks of a metropolis: a wealth of culture, food, entertainment and the fervent energy that breathes life into everything — even on a Wednesday at 3 am.
10. Never a dull moment
Always a cool concert. Always a huge festival. Always a new restaurant you HAVE TO try.
You’re never bored in a big city or allowed to say “There’s nothing to do.” That’s reserved for people in the suburbs.
11. Big cities set you up for success
After time in the big city, no challenge is too daunting, no person too demanding and no moment too intimidating.
You emerge from the fray stronger and sharper — especially if you always work on yourself.
Congrats! You survived the big city and have have earned whatever good fortune comes next.