Young people are relocating to places outside of the major metropolises of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In fact, smaller cities are seeing some of the largest influxes in millennial populations.
An analysis of census data from 2011 and 2012 shows that cities like Denver, Portland, Houston and Austin saw some of the largest influx of 20-somethings. However, perhaps most surprising is the fact that Washington D.C. saw the most millennial gains during this time period, with more than 12,000 young people flocking to the area.
Of the top 15 most popular cities for millennials, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are nowhere to be found.
Having grown up during the Great Recession, millennials are one of the first generations in America that aren’t expected to be more successful than their parents. However, this oft-quoted observation assumes that the younger generation defines success as making it in a big city. The idea of a successful life has changed drastically from generation to generation, and millennials now are seeking out communities where they can live comfortably.
Such is the case with Houston. A booming city with a thriving oil business, Houston has proven an attractive draw to young people for its low unemployment rates. For many recent college grads, following the job market means living in Houston, and they are cool with that.
Keeping it Groovy
The fiercely independent nature of millennials has made indie enclaves in cities such as Portland, Austin, and Charlotte, attractive options for settling down. The so-called “hipster” culture has become somewhat of the poster child for 20-somethings, even if none of them would dare to admit it. The thriving art cultures of smaller cities give young people the opportunity to live cheaply while still being able to express themselves.
Cities such as Jackson, Mississippi, are making a name for themselves by offering extremely affordable rents to a new generation of artists. While the established art communities of Portland and Austin come with higher rent prices for housing and studio space, newer places, such as Jackson, are affordable and offer connections to a tight-knit group of locals.
The Millennials Next Door
Smaller places located next to huge cities have also become popular among millennials. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is about a 30 minute car ride north of Chicago, but it isn’t just a commuter town. Many young people find themselves moving to the city for its affordable rent and awesome cultural offerings.
Given the current state of the economy, young people are forced to move to cities where they are confident they will be able to afford the rent. However, that doesn’t mean that they are forced to settle. Many are finding that low rent is just one of the appealing factors of smaller cities.