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Where millennials are moving

  • Where millennials are moving

    For the last decade-plus, millennials have been held up as an example of how crazy kids these days have become. Avocado toast? Blame it on the millennials. Oversharing on social media? That's just what millennials do. Refusing to grow up? Classic millennial behavior. In reality, the generation born between 1981 and 1996 is as much defined by taste and technology as they are by economics.

    Millennials were entering the workforce as the subprime mortgage scandal cratered the global economy. With fewer jobs to land and less money to be made—and with more than 20 years of efforts to union-bust in Washington D.C.—things were as unstable as they'd been since the Great Depression. As a new generation faced such an uncertain job market, members of that generation realized it was up to them to improvise.

    Millennials fought back against convention: What's the problem with working from home? Why should I wait to travel? With suffocating student debt, health care out of reach, and buying a house a pipe dream, millennials moved to affordable neighborhoods across Brooklyn, Oakland, Detroit, and Austin. Inevitably, those neighborhoods became gentrified and rental prices skyrocketed.

    These days, with the generation's senior cohort approaching 40, it's Gen Z that's become the target of “crazy kids” narratives. Stories of millennials are more about how they raise kids, how they vote, and how it's still nearly impossible for them to buy property. But as millennials age and look to settle down, it's clear they want what every generation before them has wanted: to own their own homes, make money, and raise families. And so, they're leaving those now-bustling neighborhoods and descending on newly unlikely cities across the country where housing is relatively cheap and jobs are hiring.

    According to the data compiled by the National Association of Realtors, millennials are still arriving in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but they're also showing up in small metropolises across the Midwest, frozen cities on the Canadian border, and places with more candy shops than bars in the Mountain West. Kids these days, well, now they've become the new adults. And they're going anywhere and everywhere that they can afford to buy a home.

    These are the 30 cities where millennials are moving, ranked by the percentage of recent movers who are millennials. Note that ties are broken by the share of millennials to the total population and the median income for millennial recent movers.

    You may also like: Best cities for young professionals

  • #30. Salt Lake City, UT

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 61%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 31%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $64,300 (1.7% higher than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 2.7%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 2.7%

    Utah's capital city has become a magnet for millennials because of a growing job market, but also because of its easy access to incredible nature. National parks like Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Arches are all close by, and Salt Lake City has great proximity to some incredible skiing. From June 2017 to June 2018, Utah led the nation in percentage job growth, with the number of jobs in the state growing by almost 3.5%.

    The infusion of young professionals has helped spur economic growth here—but it's also made it harder than ever to buy a home. Salt Lake City is now among the toughest cities in the country for millennials to purchase a home, according to a report from Realtor.com.

  • #29. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 62%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 17%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $73,300 (11.4% lower than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 1.8%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 3.9%

    Forbes in 2014 named the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area of Connecticut one of the best destinations for millennials in the country. The draw? High salaries, proximity to Manhattan, and growing industries (the area is home to Starwood Hotels and the cable behemoth Charter). The residents of this southwestern Connecticut hub are highly educated—and wealthy. Sandy Goldstein, president of Stamford's Downtown Special Services District, reported in 2017 that 64% of the residents of Stamford's downtown were millennials with an average income surpassing $100,000 per year.

    The increase of a young, college-educated population with disposable income has led to a boom in high-cost luxury rentals, but it hasn't made owning a home any more attainable. Just 12% of the recent millennial arrivals can afford to buy a home in the area, despite a median income of $73,300, according to a study by the National Association of Realtors based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.

  • #28. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 62%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 22%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $48,800 (5.6% lower than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 0.7%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 4%

    In the late 1960s, most of Detroit's affluent white population left the major Midwestern metropolis in a city-altering exodus dubbed “White Flight.” In the Great Recession of 2008, Detroit was hit harder than almost any American city; a decade later, a survey by the Metro Times found that the city probably contains significantly more abandoned homes than its official count of 22,000. 

    In recent years an art scene, deep cultural history, and affordable housing have led to a rush of millennials to the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn area. College-educated millennials made up only 3.5% of Detroit's population as of 2017, according to Census Bureau data, but 40% of those millennials are now homeowners. 

  • #27. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 62%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 22%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $60,600 (0.3% lower than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 1.9%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 3.7%

    Philadelphia long saw itself as a metropolis-sized version of its patron saint, Rocky Balboa. It was a working-class town that was tough as nails. But in recent years, a boom in the city's health care and aerospace industries has coincided with an influx of young, college-educated, white-collar workers.

    From 2000 through 2017, Philadelphia had a 115% growth in bachelor's degree holders—#2 among big cities, according to a report by Campus Philly, which examined Census data. The new millennial arrivals have changed the City of Brotherly Love in many ways, even down to its distinctive accent. The question for some Philadelphia leaders is if the millennials will stay to raise families; according to a 2014 report by Pew ("Millennials in Philadelphia"), only 36% saw the city as a place to raise kids.

  • #26. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 63%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 21%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $78,900 (6.6% higher than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 1.2%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 3.9%

    New York City has long been a magnet for the young and ambitious. But in the last decade, Manhattan has become all but impossible to live in because of the exorbitant rent on the island. That's meant a flood of young, affluent (and usually white) millennials to traditionally black and Latino neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and, most recently, across state lines in Newark and Jersey City.

    The New York City boroughs have been changed racially and socioeconomically, with many locals forced out due to the arrival of Manhattan-level rents in their formerly working-class neighborhoods. New Jersey had long had a “millennial problem”—with its younger generation leaving the state in droves—but young New Yorkers and other millennials choosing Newark and Jersey City for their burgeoning art scenes and close quarters to Manhattan have led to mini-millennial booms in the Jersey locales.

  • #25. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 63%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 24%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $43,700 (29.5% lower than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 1.2%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 3.9%

    Chicago is a large Midwestern city and the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (also called Chicago-Naperville-Elgin), which includes parts of northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin, is an absolute behemoth. Home to 9.5 million residents, the Chicago MSA is the third-largest metro area in the country, despite losing more than 20,000 residents to domestic migration between 2017 and 2018.

    Chicago remains a magnet for young professionals because of its powerful economy—Illinois was home to 37 Fortune 500 companies in 2018, including Walgreens, Boeing, and McDonald's. But in terms of a millennial infusion of talent, Chicago is actually less of a hotspot than some other burgeoning, more affordable Midwestern locales.

  • #24. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 63%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 26%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $56,300 (18.2% lower than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 1.6%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 2.9%

    Though the winters will keep some millennial transplants away, Minnesota's Minneapolis and St. Paul are beautiful, clean, and vibrant Twin Cities. Minneapolis is expected to add 40,000 residents between 2010–2020, accounting for more than a 10% population growth, the city's most extreme growth boom since 1950 (St. Paul has grown by 6% since 2010).

    Because of the growth, many young people have moved into Minneapolis's downtown and warehouse districts, which has led to a boom in arts and food scenes there. The liberal Twin Cities in one of the Midwest's most liberal states have recently passed housing reforms to offset the housing crisis almost always associated with millennial worker infusion; if they're successful, the laws could become a roadmap for other cities facing housing crises.

  • #23. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 63%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 28%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $48,400 (10.7% lower than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 1.7%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 3.3%

    It wasn't New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles that saw the highest relative growth among millennials from 2010 through 2015; it was actually the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News area that ranked #1 on Time magazine's list with a 16.4% change. So why are so many young people moving to the Hampton Roads area? The beautiful Virginia and North Carolina coast, affordable housing, and a growing economy. In the Hampton Roads area, the median home costs just $245,900 and, in addition to the beach, there is also a plethora of beautiful nature in the area.

  • #22. Pittsburgh, PA

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 65%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 22%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $46,300 (19.8% lower than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 0.8%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 3.6%

    In recent years, Pittsburgh's youth boom has been well-documented: Startups are congregating in the former steel town and bringing with them a young, affluent workforce. Much of the tech growth has come out of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, who both have impressive STEM programs and are national leaders in artificial intelligence research and development.

    The biggest pockets of millennials in Pittsburgh live in the East End neighborhoods; the Strip District is a bustling food heaven that runs along the Allegheny River's southeast shore. The tech boom in a town with relatively affordable housing has led to a millennial home-buying rush—according to one LendingTree study, Pittsburgh's millennials were the second most likely to buy a home in the country.

  • #21. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

    - Share of millennial recent movers to recent movers of any age (2017): 65%
    - Share of millennials to total population (2017): 23%
    - Median income for millennial recent movers (2017): $60,200 (20.9% higher than total millennial income in 2017)
    - One-year employment growth (Feb. 2019): 1.3%
    - Unemployment rate (Feb. 2019): 3.9%

    Long viewed as the frigid and bitter northern neighbor of New York City, Buffalo has recently emerged as an unlikely hub for millennial homeowners. Though still cold, snowy, and disappointed about its football team, Buffalo's affordability and growing economy have made it a millennial magnet as the generation prepares to settle down.

    Realtor.com reports the price per square foot for homes in Buffalo is $98 with a median home value of about $145,900. Compare that with Manhattan, which has an average price per square foot of $1,773, according to a 2018 study from NeighborhoodX. Though many people think of Buffalo as a stop on the way to Niagara Falls or Toronto, the city has become a party town with some great outdoors to enjoy in the non-frozen months.

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