February 6, 2020

Millennials are often defined as the job-hopping generation and portrayed as readily mobile. Recent trends show that more young adults are moving to urban centers in the south or west of the country, while some are ready to settle down and purchase a home in a small city with affordable housing prices.

Millennials are more likely to move than previous generations, and 85% are willing to relocate for work, while more than 80% see mobility as a factor contributing to success.

The appeal of the Pacific Northwest

The famous Seattle landmark, the Space Needle.

Oregon and Washington are two states that have been attracting young adults steadily over the past decade. The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area's population is 18.6% millennials, while 20.1% of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area population belongs to that generation.

Millennials are moving to Oregon and Washington to pursue job opportunities in fields like technology, aerospace or finance. The natural beauty and the hip and youthful atmosphere of these major urban centers are also alluring.

Although northwestern states continue to attract young adults, the trend of moving west is less definite than it was a few years ago.

The urban lifestyle

Millennials have a clear preference for a modern urban lifestyle. Young adults are moving to central urban neighborhoods and contributing to the urban resurgence phenomenon in some cities.

Denver, San Francisco and Austin are seeing an influx of young adults, and millennials represent 20% of their populations.

The defining trend of previous generations was to move away from urban centers, purchase homes in the suburbs and start families. Millennials would rather live downtown in walkable neighborhoods with access to job opportunities, public transit, amenities and entertainment options.

Examples of such popular neighborhoods include the Chicago West Loop, the North End in Boston, the Manayunk area in Philadelphia, an Wall Street in New York City. In these neighborhoods, 70% of renters belong to the millennial generation.

Small living spaces and high rents are two of the main downsides of living in central urban neighborhoods, but millennials are willing to make a few sacrifices to live in vibrant neighborhoods with access to job opportunities.

Settling down in small towns

A home for sale

Small-town living appeals to young adults who are ready to buy a home and start a family. While millennials tend to rent small apartments in large urban centers, they often settle down in states far from the coasts due to more affordable housing prices.

Places like Athens, Ohio, are seeing 59% of mortgages closed by millennials. Athens is an appealing option for recent Ohio University grads since it's within commuting distance of Columbus. Millennials are moving to other small cities like Aberdeen, S.D.; Williston, N.D.; Odessa, Tex.; or Quincy, Ill.

Though some millennials are moving to vibrant urban centers or purchasing homes in small cities, another 23% are still living at home. Paying high rents or qualifying for a mortgage can be challenging for the 42% of college graduates with student loans. Millennials are a mobile generation, but flexibility among young adults varies due to wage stagnation, high levels of debt and high housing prices.

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