cheap places to move

Millennials are flocking to mid-sized cities, and this might be why

Bethany RamosFirst-Time Homebuyer, Home Buying, Moving

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As the cost of living continues to surge in large cities, more people are moving to smaller, mid-sized cities. One group that seems particularly drawn to mid-sized cities, looking for cheap places to move, are millennials.

5 smart reasons millennials want to downsize from big-city life

As one of America’s most indebted generations, it’s unsurprising that the high prices of some of America’s biggest cities have failed to appeal to millennials.  A variety of factors have cause millennials to consider making the move to smaller cities.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. Affordable housing.

cheap places to move

Milwaukee, WI

Housing is the biggest monthly expense for most people. In large cities like San Francisco, residents spend over 70 percent of their monthly income on housing. Mid-sized cities like Memphis, TN; Louisville, KY; and Kansas City, MO, are home to significantly lower housing prices.

Living in mid-sized cities also makes homeownership far more attainable. Homeownership in large renter cities like New York can seem like a distant dream for many millennials. Mid-sized cities not only provide a realistic opportunity for homeownership but also far more land and square footage than homes in their larger counterparts.

On average:

  • A home in Tulsa costs around $120,000.
  • A home with the same features in Los Angeles would cost over $685,000, a difference of over 570 percent.

“The biggest mistake millennials are making is not buying their first home.” That’s what David Bach, self-made millionaire, said recently.

Homeowners are worth 40x more than renters.* Click here to start building your future: Get prequalified and get home in 10 days.

2. Employment rate.

cheap places to move

Provo, UT; downtownprovo/Instagram

The U.S. job market is currently experiencing a surge. Unemployment is at its lowest point in decades. While many would expect big cities to benefit most from this growth, they’re far from the only ones to experience the prosperity of a booming job market. According to Forbes, much of the strongest job creation is now occurring in cities with populations of under one million. The need for such expansive job growth in these areas is due to a variety of factors, including the high cost of living in larger cities, the role of universities, and emerging business and tech hubs.

Although affordable living is a factor millennials consider when moving, many mid-sized cities have much more to offer. Colleges can play a vital role in attracting young talent to mid-sized cities. Many mid-sized cities with impressive job growth are also home to large universities. Two of the fastest growing mid-sized cities in the United States — Provo, UT, and Fayetteville, AR — are both home to flagship universities, Brigham Young University and the University of Arkansas respectively.

With the ever-growing cost of living in the Bay Area, many professionals in the tech industry have opted to explore career opportunities in other areas. Omaha, NE, and Huntsville, AL, are both home to thriving tech industries that have provided a more inclusive atmosphere than that of Silicon Valley.

3. Remote work is on the rise.

cheap places to move

Charleston, SC

Millennials tend to value work-life balance more than the generations that precede them. Over half of millennials cite a healthy work-life balance as a top career priority to the point that many would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for more free time. With the desire for more balance between work and life increasing, it’s unsurprising that remote work has become popular among millennial workers.

Remote work has changed the way Americans work and created a variety of job opportunities that were once limited to a single geographic area.

Because of this:

  • People are now provided with the option to move to more affordable cities, without having to leave their current position.
  • In addition to the logistical benefits, remote work also gives employees the ability to spend more time with family and friends, enjoy hobbies, and pursue other outside interests.

4. Reasonable commute.

cheap places to move

Wichita, KS; janeslanding/Instagram

The average American spends around 42 hours a year sitting in traffic. This number is even higher in busy metros where people spend up to two hours a day commuting to and from work. For example, commuters in New York City spend around an hour and twenty minutes in traffic a day. Commuters in Wichita, KS, only spend an average of thirty-six minutes a day in traffic.

Living in a mid-sized city with reasonable commute times is especially attractive to millennials because it provides them with more free time, as well as reducing the stress and financial cost of spending so much time in their vehicle.

5. Big-city amenities, small-town vibes.

cheap places to move

Beale St., Memphis, TN

Many mid-sized cities have been making an effort to attract and maintain more millennial residents. In addition to courting young professionals with lucrative careers, many mid-sized cities have the vibrant urban amenities of large cities, without the steep price tag. Cities like Milwaukee, WI, and Charleston, SC, are home to fun amenities like craft breweries, trendy restaurants, and high street shopping at a more affordable rate. Smaller cities are also often home to more wide-open spaces and outdoor activities than densely populated large cities.

While many of these cities offer the same amenities of urban metropolises, they are more than just big cities on a small scale. Many people move to mid-sized cities for a more laidback lifestyle. Smaller cities often offer a deeper sense of community and more opportunities to form lasting connections. Plugging into community activities can be far less intimidating in a mid-sized city than in a city of millions.

Get more than you bargained for: Mid-sized cities don’t disappoint

As lifestyles and the nature of work continue to change, mid-sized cities are growing increasingly more attractive to millennials. Mid-sized cities are no longer the places young, talented professionals leave to forge their path in the big city. They’re now havens for millennials who want the best of both worlds; the amenities of the big cities, as well as the affordability and charm of smaller cities. As long as mid-sized cities remain cost-effective and accessible, millennials and their families will keep moving.

Kelsey Hawkins is a contributing writer and media specialist for North American Van Lines. She regularly produces content for a variety of informational and lifestyle blogs.  

*”Millionaire to millennials: You’re 40x better off buying than renting.”, April 2019.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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