Grand Rapids is No. 2 city in US ‘to be young and broke’

Grand Rapids is No. 2 city in US ‘to be young and broke’

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Grand Rapids has landed in second place in a national ranking of the “Best Cities to Be Young and Broke.”

MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website, released the ranking last week, and Grand Rapids ranks No. 2, behind Madison, Wisconsin at No. 1. Dayton, Ohio ranks No. 3.

Kali McFadden, MagnifyMoney senior research analyst, said the ranking considered factors such as the price of goods relative to the rest of the country, average commute time and low youth unemployment rates.

“It’s not that (the top three) cities necessarily scored the highest on all the features we analyzed, but when we weighted those features according to what the young adults we surveyed said mattered the most, the lower-than-typical rents and price combined with modest commute times to bring Midwestern cities to the top of the list,” McFadden said.


MagnifyMoney asked 100 people ages 18-24 to rank the importance of 12 city features that factor into quality of life for the young and broke.

The website then weighted the features of 107 metros with populations greater than 500,000 against what young people said they wanted most in a city.

The factors included median rent, state income and sales tax rates, percentage of the young adult population who live in poverty, percentage of the population between 18 and 24, percentage of young adults who have completed or are pursuing a college degree, percentage of the population who uses public transportation, percentage of young adults who moved from another state or country in the previous year and availability of cheap food.

Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids metro “shines” in categories such as the price of goods relative to the rest of the country (almost 5 percent less), average commute time (about 21 minutes) and low youth unemployment rates (6.7 percent), according to MagnifyMoney.

More than 10 percent of residents in the Grand Rapids metro between the ages of 18 and 24 are either college graduates or on their way. Most young people are local, with fewer than 5 percent being transplants from out of state.

Fewer than 2 percent of people use public transportation, and state and income taxes are lower than many, ranking 42nd and 44th out of the 107 metros in the ranking.

Top 10

1.   Madison, Wisconsin
2.   Grand Rapids
3.   Dayton, Ohio
4.   Syracuse, New York
5.   Durham, North Carolina
6.   Des Moines, Iowa
7.   Provo, Utah
8.   Akron, Ohio
9.   Chattanooga, Tennessee
10. Lexington, Kentucky

Bottom 10

98.   New York
99.   Los Angeles
100. Tampa, Florida
101. Sacramento, California
102. Fresno, California
103. Stockton, California
104. Santa Rosa, California
105. Bakersfield, California
106. Modesto, California
107. Riverside, California

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Rachel Watson was a Grand Rapids Business Journal/Grand Rapids Magazine staff reporter who most recently covered food and beverage, agriculture, economic development, manufacturing, small business and startups, banking and finance, human resources, and DEI. She also was associate digital editor for and

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