Millennials…can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Literally. The millennial generation currently holds the official title of most diverse age cohort in the US, and unofficially hold the title of most annoying. They are environmentally conscious, culturally invested, and avocado-obsessed. It’s no wonder they’re deciding against settling down in the suburbs of their youth in favor of big and midsize cities.
But not all cities are rolling out the red carpet to welcome their newest residents. Many cities keep millennials priced out of the housing market, fail to provide job opportunities or just fail to entertain this “work hard play hard” generation. But now that this group occupies the largest percentage of the workforce, many cities are deciding to keep up with the times and embrace them (Mic). Others have decided the “me” generation is more than they’re willing to deal with. From beachside towns to major metropolitan destinations, millennials are learning how to navigate between what they want and what they can afford. So which cities are welcoming them and which ones are doing their best to keep them out? For this list, we’re exploring the ten worst cities for millennials to call home and fifteen that millennials dominate.
25 not welcome: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
It’s not just millennials that aren’t feeling the love for Winston-Salem. According to a report by U-Haul, North Carolina dropped from seventh in 2017 to 24th in 2018 in net migration (Journal Now). Winston-Salem fails to hit the sweet spot of the millennial age range. The city is college town, thanks to Wake Forest University, which currently has just under 10,000 students. The other major age group is 39-59, leaving a serious gap in the millennial 20s and 30s young professional age group (Census Reporter).
24 not welcome: Syracuse, New York
How’s this for your city’s nickname: “the city where love goes to die.” That’s the title given to Syracuse by the New York Post. According to a survey conducted by ApartmentList.com, a staggeringly low 15% of millennial singles are satisfied with the dating scene in this upstate New York town, making it the lowest in the country. The biggest problem may be that young people seem avid on moving elsewhere, particularly to the South and Sunbelt areas, respectively. In fact, of the 25 cities millennials are moving to, not a single one is located in New York (New York Post.).
23 not welcome: Detroit, Michigan
In the past couple of years Detroit has garnered a lot of positive attention for its citywide comeback initiative. After being named the murder capital and filing for financial loss in 2013, millennials have been credited for pushing the city back into the national conversation. But the city has a long way to go to sustain that reputation. In 2018, WalletHub put the motor city dead last on their list of 61 major US cities based on livability (Metro Times).
22 not welcome: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Despite how many millennials love The Office, Scranton, Pennsylvania remains pretty unappealing to them (Millennial Marketing). Locals seem to really dislike this city, as you can find several groups on Facebook and other social website solely dedicated to sharing their grievances about it. Scranton has a median age of 42.7, slightly older than the millennial age range. The city also doesn’t boast well for career-oriented young people, with an unemployment rate of 5.6%- almost 2% about the national average (US News Real Estate).
21 not welcome: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Apartments. Listings website ranked Bridgeport the second worst city in the US for Millennials, with an overall grade of F. The website gave particularly low ratings to this sleepy Connecticut city in categories such as job market, wage growth and the millennial unemployment rate. Then, of course, there’s livability, which came in at an astonishingly low score of 18/100. A good portion of that score is tied to social opportunities-or lack thereof. To make matters worse, Bridgeport sits less than three hours from Boston and NYC, both of which draw in large numbers of millennials (CT Boom).
20 not welcome: Newark, New Jersey
Much like New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, millennial natives also seem to be “born to run” from the garden state. A recent study conducted by Rutgers University graduate students found that 6.1% of millennials moved away in 2016 and 6.5% in 2012 (Jersey Digs). Considering this is a loss of about one third of the state’s millennial population, this is a pretty big loss. Most sources site the high cost of living as the number one reason for this decline, as New Jersey currently ranks as the 7th most expensive state for millennials (Monarch Housing).
19 not welcome: Tampa, Florida
Florida ranks 42/51 on the list of best states for millennials, and dead last in civil engagement and community participation. Florida also ranks in the top four percentile for millennials with college degrees still living at home with their parents. Maybe that’s because Tampa specifically ranks amongst the worst metropolitan areas to attempt to earn a living wage in the US (Orlando Weekly). But Tampa residents may like it that way, as the local newspaper published an article in 2015 called “5 Reasons To Ridicule Millennials” (Tampa Bay Times).
18 not welcome: Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach has a housing market that millennials ready to buy find less than desirable. While many adults fall into that 18-30 year old range that lenders consider to be prime candidates purchasing, home ownership is down 11% since 2012 (Daytona Real Estate). Why? The job market. Residents ages 20-34 have a higher unemployment rate than any other age group in the state of Florida (Nerd Wallet), not exactly an ideal position to be in if you want to buy your first home.
17 not welcome: Sarasota, Florida
Despite what MTV’s Siesta Key might try to convince you of, the Sarasota area of Florida is not a thriving metropolis for young people. In an article published in Sarasota Magazine, the publication claims that while young people may like Sarasota, “the obstacles to keeping them here are bigger than most people realize.”
Those obstacles include inflated rent prices, most of which exceed the average 30% of one’s income. Another is the lack of peers within the millennial age bracket, which makes up just 12% of the population (Sarasota Magazine).
16 not welcome: Miami, Florida
Despite the consistent crowds of young people visiting this Oceanside city, Miami is actually pretty hard for millennials to live in. In fact, The publication Miami New Times says Miami is “the worst city in America for recent college grads to live, work, and socialize.”Ouch. Maybe it’s the tourists that leave a bad taste for millennials in peoples mouths, but the data skews pretty extreme. Miami continues to lead the nation in the largest percentage of millennials living at home with their parents and also claims the title of most expensive city for millennials to rent (Miami New Times).
15 Crowded with Millennials: San Diego, California
San Diego has become a hotbed for specific industries like biotech, defense and engineering. Despite the high cost of living, San Diego has become the second-biggest millennial share of any city in the US. The millennial population currently sits at over one million, accounting for one third of the population (Globe St). While it may be too much of a stretch to call San Diego affordable, it ranks lower than other coastal cities in California like Los Angeles and San Francisco, increasing the appeal for those who can pay the price.
14 crowded with millennials: Colorado Springs, Colorado
With a surge of new young professional residents, real estate developments and career opportunities, Colorado’s second largest city is one of the nation’s fastest growing cities. According to a new report released by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, millennials are flocking to Colorado Springs at a higher rate than other cities. Colorado Springs also ranks sixth in the country for highest share of millennials that call it home, at 26.4 percent. Locals say that this city “offers a unique small-town feel that is complemented with big city offerings.” (Colorado Biz).
13 Crowded with millennials: Honolulu, Hawaii
Everyone knows Honolulu is one of the top tourism spots in the world. On any given day on the big island, you can find about 220,000 tourists. But with it’s idyllic setting, it’s easy to see why people want to stay permanently. A new wave of homegrown entrepreneurship has come to the capital, growing the millennial population by almost 16 percent (Headlight Data). Who doesn't want to live somewhere that allows for career growth during the week and surfing on the weekends?
12 Crowded with millennials: Columbia, South Carolina
For years, young creatives and entrepreneurs moved away after college. But thanks to the low cost of living, thriving art scene and newly-opening offices, millennials are sticking around. According to SmartAsset, Columbia now ranks second in the county for net influx of millennials, with almost 7,000 more young people ranging from 24-34 moving to Columbia than away in 2016. The study also puts South Carolina’s capital city second only to tech-centric Seattle in retaining millennials (The Free Times).
11 crowded with millennials: Los Angeles, California
According to Curbed, Los Angeles is one of the top US cities where millennials want to be. Why “Good jobs and stuff to do.” Seems pretty straightforward to us. But that is a surprising piece of information if you consider that most millennials have been choosing midsize cities in part to the high rent of big cities. Los Angeles does fit most of the specific criteria millennials look for, such as parks, restaurants and lots of other young people around. (Curbed Los Angeles).
10 crowded with millennials: New York, New York
You know what they say, if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. And millennials love a challenge. But it’s the very bottom of the island of Manhattan that is attracting the highest number of them. Millennials have flocked the Financial District at the third highest rate in the US, with an influx of 2,300 in just five years. Nearby Battery Park City saw a 54.5 percent spike of millennials in the same period of time (Rent Cafe).
9 crowded with millennials: Phoenix, Arizona
A booming city in the western US, Arizona’s capital boats constant warm weather and sunshine perfect for enjoying outdoor activities year round. A one-time college town, Phoenix is now a booming city for millennials. Over the past few years, 100,000 new private sector jobs have been created to provide more opportunities for the city’s rapidly growing population of young professionals, according to the Office of Economic Opportunity. Add affordable home prices inline with the salaries offered, and Phoenix has become a top option for millennials (Capital Fund).
8 Crowded with millennials: Charleston, South Carolina
According to Headlight Data, millennials make up over 15% of this coastal city’s population, and the city certainly caters to them. Charleston’s King Street offers over a mile-long stretch of bars and restaurants, perfect for those looking to socialize. The city’s job market grew at a rate of 3.1% last year, nearly double the national average. Charleston also offers a ton of outdoor activities thanks to its seat right on the Atlantic coast (Life Storage).
7 crowded with millennials: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Located on the southeast coast of Virginia where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach has been long known as a vacation destination. But thanks to a thriving job market and a seemingly endless supply of activities to choose from, this one time sleepy resort town offers everything millennials are looking for. 106,000 of them to be exact (Unpakt), putting Virginia Beach at the top of the list of millennial growth with a rate of over 16% (Time).
6 crowded with millennials: Austin, Texas
Austin currently ranks as the number two best city for future job growth, the capital of Texas hold the headquarters to major companies like Whole Foods, Dell and Google. The city has also earned the reputation of the live music capital of the world- hosting two famous music festivals- and has gained notoriety for its lively bar scene (Home Union). No wonder Austin has increased its millennial population by over 16% in less than a decade (Curbed).
5 crowded with millennials: Chicago, Illinois
There is one specific zip code in Chicago that currently houses the highest millennial population in the country: the eastern portion of the city’s West Loop. Three out of four residents in this neighborhood are millennials, according to a new study by RentCafe. Dubbed “Millennial-ville” by Chicago Tribune and “best loop” by its residents, the former industrial area is now brimming with some of Chicago’s coolest restaurants and bars, loft apartments and boutique hotels (Time Out).
4 crowded with millennials: Boston, Massachusetts
Boston offers urban living, professional sports and easy commuting without the price tag of New York City. Adults between the ages of 25 and 35 years old currently make up 23 percent of the population, with 15 percent of those moving to The Hub within the last year. Add in a growing job market and housing market that costs around 35 percent of the median income and it’s easy to see why Boston is the country’s second-most impactful millennial population (Politico).
3 crowded with millennials: Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin has gone from a Midwest college town to a millennial hotspot. Millennials currently make up 27% of Madison’s population, and it’s no surprise considering the job opportunities this city offers. The unemployment rate sits at an incredibly low 2.8% thanks to several companies within the tech and healthcare industry located here. Add to that a lower than average cost of living and 5,000 acres of parkland and you’ve got a city worthy of hosting the world’s largest age group (Livability).
2 crowded with millennials: Provo, Utah
Millennials make up 30% of the Provo, Utah area, one of the fastest growing regions in the US (Quartz). In fact, Deseret News calls Provo the best city in the country “to be young and broke.”
Only moments away from some of the best skiing in the country and home to several tech start-ups, Provo has been nicknamed Silicon Slopes. The city’s job growth rate currently stands at 5.2% annually, the fastest pace in the country (Tim and Julie Harris).
1 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia might have to change its name from the city of brotherly love to the city of millennial love. Based on a new survey conducted by Forbes, Philadelphia was named the most economically viable metropolis for millennials to live, work and play at an affordable rate. The high ranking is based on not only the number of young people living here, but can also be accredited to the city’s below average unemployment rate and affordable rent and home prices (Biz Journals).
SOURCES: Newyorkpost.com; Millennialmarketing.com; Usnews.com; Curbed.com; Time.com