What characteristics define the typical ‘millennial’? To name a few: familiarity with technology and social media, a liberal approach to politics, a love of takeaway coffees and fluffy cats on the internet, the use of words like ‘lit’, ‘shade’ and ‘woke’, the list could go on. However, one of the most unfortunate things that the millennial generation have come to be associated with is a lack of money and employment. A glut of university degrees has done little to alleviate the increasingly high cost of living in much of the western world.

So, where should the young and broke people go? Surely some cities are better than others when it comes to living cheaply in your twenties? At MoveHub, we wanted to find out. By using a range of data from Deutsche Bank, Numbeo, Expatistan, TripAdvisor and the UN, we analysed over 30 cities from across the globe to see which places offered the best life for cash-poor millennials. Our score system included the price of a monthly transport ticket, the density of ‘cheap eats’, Deutsche Bank’s safety index and a particularly heavy focus on monthly rent as a proportion of monthly income. Oh, and the price of a cappuccino. Each city was then awarded a score out of 100, with 100 being the cheapest and most habitable.

Young and broke? Move to Edinburgh

It turns out Edinburgh is the best choice, offering the optimal combination of living costs, income and safety for the world’s millennials. The Scottish capital came up tops with a score of 82.95 out of 100. Of the cities in the study, Edinburgh offers the highest density of cheap eats, which is the main reason the city has performed so well in the overall table. There are just over 84 cheap eats per 100,000 people in Edinburgh, a figure produced by combining Trip Advisor’s cheap eats data with population figures. In terms of monthly rent as a proportion of monthly income, the most important factor in our study, Edinburgh actually places in the top 10, ranking 9th. On average, monthly rent takes up only 32.5% of monthly income, somewhat dispelling the myth that Edinburgh is an extremely expensive place to live.

The top ten cities for the young & broke

CityOverall Score

Edinburgh is also very beautiful, so it wins on several counts. You can find history and culture throughout the city, not least in the 12th-century castle and the Old Town that surrounds it. The winters are particularly chilly but there are a multitude of open-fire pubs to cosy up in. Get yourself to Auld Reekie!

Europe represents!

Of the 32 cities included in the study, only 15 of them were European, but a solid 8 of the top 10 cities are in Europe. The top 5 in particular offers a 100% European showing. If you think Edinburgh might not be your bag, consider Vienna, Berlin or Prague. If you don’t like the sound of very cold winters (we don’t blame you) then look no further than Madrid, which sits fifth in the table.

Get out of London

In contrast to Edinburgh, London came in the bottom three, sitting above Dublin and Sao Paulo with a pretty miserable score of 47.5 out of 100. The most expensive public transport (nearly £140 per month, on average) combined with the 5th highest monthly rent pushed London down to 30th place. Rent takes up on average nearly 52% of Londoners’ monthly income. The city’s safety index score didn’t do it any favours either, receiving a 26 from Deutsche Bank and ranking in the lower half of their report. It’s no secret that London’s extortionate living costs are choking millennials and sending people elsewhere. Look at mainland Europe: it has prettier buildings, warmer summers and vastly cheaper coffees.

Scandinavians really pay for their coffee fix

Speaking of coffee, we found that the cities with the priciest cappuccinos are generally situated in Scandinavia. Copenhagen and Oslo occupy the first and second slots respectively but, on top of that, you will also find Stockholm and Helsinki in the top 10. In Copenhagen, people shell out $5.41 on average for a cappuccino. Hot mugs of coffee are probably very important to the Danes’ cosy ‘hygge’ lifestyle, but it evidently comes at a cost. If you want cheap coffee then head to Cape Town, where the average price of a coffee is only $1.74, although don’t head there for safety (it comes second to last, just ahead of Sao Paulo).

The Gateway of India

Mumbai crept into the top 10, placing 8th with a score of 70.84 out of 100. Offering the cheapest public transport (£9 per month) and one of the cheapest coffees, Mumbai also beat out competitors Paris, Brussels and Dublin for safety, with a fairly respectable score of 30. As India’s most cosmopolitan city continues to modernize and develop, perhaps it will gradually become a popular choice for broke millennials looking to move elsewhere.

Top 10 cities for rent as a proportion of income

CityRent as % of income
Kuala Lumpur31.90

Get real bang for your buck in Berlin

When it comes to rent as a proportion of income, Berlin is the best city to live in. On average, monthly rent in the German capital takes up just over a quarter of monthly salary (25.64%). Berlin has always been an effortlessly cool place for expats to relocate to (just ask David Bowie), and now it has cheap accommodation to boot. The city’s culture scene has a lot to offer, from street food and avant-garde art to open-air cinemas and techno raves, and it turns out you can afford to join in.