By: Jeremy Kates0 comments

When it comes to tracking the ever illusive millennial, you have two camps when it comes to where they are choosing to lay down their roots. In one hand, you have where they want to live, and in the other, where they can afford to live without total sacrifice. In this regard, the millennial generation is no different than other generations, other than being saddled with a house payment of student loan debt. It’s for this reason that the millennial generation may be looking more towards compromise and value.

The places millennials want to live

It turns out that millennials generally want to live in a lot of the same places the generations before them wanted to live. Places like Seattle, San Francisco, New York remain popular overall, but New York has been battling negative migration issues lately. There are some more trendy, hipster spots like Denver and Austin that may be more popular among millennials than past generations.

Millennial San Francisco
San Francisco has always been a destination city, but affordability has cut into its popularity with Millennials.

Washington state had the highest net gain in relation to population. Seattle, being the top spot in many lists of popular destination cities for millennials, is by in large the reason for the state’s success in attracting this generation. On the state level, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada are popular places to call home for millennials. Texas is another large beneficiary of millennial migration gaining roughly 35,000 millennials.

Popular spots in the south also made big gains in net millennial growth. Some of the spots are places that may not be top of mind when it comes to destination cities. Cities like Memphis Tennessee and New Orleans are favored highly among the millennial generation. Some of the warmer southern spots like Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami Florida are in fashion as well.

One of the more surprising aspects of millennial migration is the popularity of the eastern seaboard. From Rhode Island through the Carolina’s hold some of the top spots for millennials. Virginia holds two cities in the top 10¬†with the Virginia Beach area gaining a net millennial migration gain of 16.4%. ¬†Richmond followed closely with a net gain of 14.9%. Cold weather doesn’t appear to bother the millennial generation.

Overall, the migration to urban areas continues. However, the previous notion was that the millennial generation had a love affair with cities, but it appears that fling may have been short lived. More millennials are moving out to the suburbs looking for better value and schools to raise their kids. In that regard, they are not much different than some of their most recent predecessors.

The cities millennials are compromising with

While the coasts remain popular, their is a large contingent of the generation looking for value. For these shoppers, the coasts offer little in the way of value. According to a recent article from the Penny Hoarder the value conscious millennials are looking to the heartland as a place to find affordable housing with amenities to match. Places like St. Louis, Grand Rapids Michigan have large swaths of affordable housing with cultural amenities to match.

St. Louis Millennial destination
St. Louis topped a popular list for value minded millennials with large amounts of affordable housing with cultural amenities matching more popular rivals.

Many of these midwestern stalwarts have established economies and workforces with relatively decent wage levels in relation to the cost of living. Cities like St. Louis retain a lot of the cultural amenities and green spaces that are coveted by the millennial generation.

Other cities in the midwest scoring well were Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Savannah, Georgia. The hipsters have also found their favorite spots in college towns like Columbus, OH, Boulder Colorado and Austin TX.

In all, mid sized cities appear to be far more popular than their larger counterparts. The cities that worked to revamp their images and become more popular destinations are finding their hard work paying off when it comes to attracting millennials.

Cities that saw the technology revolution as an opportunity are also are seeing the dividends from their work. Many cities like Indianapolis, St. Louis and Madison Wisconsin put policy initiatives in place to make technology investment more business friendly. Attracting young technology talent is something that should pay dividends for decades to come as even more of our economy shifts to the digital space.

Many of the older rust belt cities were forced to reinvent themselves and many of them are finding their new image more palpable for millennials. This is not to say that millennials are still not migrating to the larger coastal cities, but they are doing so in lower relative percentages than the generations before them. It’s hard to pin it down to one thing, but affordability is likely the largest driving factor. Generational shifts in population are important for future business investment, and it will be interesting to watch how businesses follow these shifts of the millennial generation as it becomes the largest generational group.

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