Millennial Families Find Respite in Suburban Life

The average first-time homebuyer is about 33 years old, according to Zillow. The average age of new moms is about 26 years old, and closer to 30 for women with college educations, who now make two thirds of new moms. It’s true that each of these figures has shifted later over the years meaning that, for many, being a twentysomething is no longer about starting “adulthood,” but rather a sort of transitional period of being single, childless and renting. 

The millennial generation has fully embodied this transition, in part because they came of age during one of the worst economic downturns in our nation’s history. This lead to a (partially true, but only partially true) stereotype of millennials as city-dwelling, craft-beer-drinking, foodie, single, Uber-riding, small-space-living hipsters who would never get married, have kids, buy cars or homes. 

However as 12,000 millennials turn 30 each day, they are hitting those inflection points. According to the National Association of Realtors, millennials now make up the largest group of homebuyers – 35% of all sales. The numbers of millennials buying in urban settings are decreasing as are the millennials buying in multi-unit buildings. In other words, despite their urban 20s, millennials are now starting to look more like previous generations in their home-buying patterns. In essence: They’re buying single-family homes in suburbs. 

These home-buying shifts might not all be preference. Lack of affordable housing in cities, coupled with often lackluster public school conditions mean that many millennials are leaving the cities because they have to, not because they want to. 

As a result, UniGroup asked Livability.com, the experts in best places to live, to help millennials out. We commissioned a ranking of cities and towns where millennials can settle down, buy a home and have kids without giving up the things they loved about urban living. 

To do this, Livability analyzed more than 2,000 cities, looking at factors about the lifestyles millennials are aging into. They crunched the numbers on school quality, housing and transportation affordability, crime rates, libraries, commute times, diversity, parks and more.

Cities were scored on the aspects of community that millennials valued in the places they enjoyed in their 20s. Places that are walkable, have plenty of commuting options, lots of kids, but lots of 30-somethings, too; and places where the adults still go out and have a good time scored higher. Knowing that affordability is a major factor in city choice, Livability honed in on small- to mid-sized cities, which are often more reasonably priced than their big city counterparts.

For the larger cities (and they did add a couple for variety), they used a modified data-driven methodology following the same general philosophy. Data sources included Esri, Emsi, the U.S. Census Bureau, Walk Score, County Health Rankings produced by the University of Wisconsin for the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and more. 

 

The 10 Best Cities for Millennials

The final Top 10 were selected from the overall ranking with the goal of proving a mix of city sizes and types across a wide geography. Not every city is right for everyone, of course, but somewhere in this list might just be the perfect place for each millennial to settle down as they enter a new phase of life.

1) Denver, CO

Booming tech and health care industries, great food and plenty of affordable suburban living options make the Mile High City perfect for millennials.

2) Brookline, MA

Looking for Boston living just outside the city's limits? Brookline offers great schools, low crime rates, and easy access to downtown via MBTA transit.

3) Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor is one of the best college towns in America with sports, music and restaurant options abound. It’s also one of the 50 Best Places to Start a Business.

4) Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City offers affordability, jobs, green space and an great foodie scene downtown with world class snow sports only 30 mins down the road.

5) Irving, TX

With a stable, diversified economy and home prices that fall below the national average, Irving is ideal for millennial families wanting to live near Dallas.

6) San Diego, CA

With 70 mi. of beaches, moderate temps and unparalleled career opportunities, its no surprise that San Diego is a magnet for millennial families.

7) Arlington, VA

Safety, parks and easy access make this Capitol City suburb perfect for millennial families who want to live in close proximity to D.C. Metro.

8) Berkeley, CA

Famous as a center for academics, free speech and the arts, Berkeley is situated along San Francisco Bay’s eastern shore and is home to UC, Berkeley.

9) Pittsburgh, PA

Voted one of the 5 best downtown regions in America in 2016, Pittsburgh is a vibrant college town with affordable housing and an incredible food scene.

10) Seattle, WA

Millennials are moving west and finding new opportunity in cities like Seattle that offer healthy living, entertainment, schools, jobs and world-class food.

 
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