Millennials are still moving to big cities, but they’re choosing carefully.
An FKD Feature exclusive

College graduates have to make a number of choices, and the most important one is where to move. We’ve heard that millennials are ignoring small towns in favor of big cities, but where exactly are they moving?

Smaller cities, bigger opportunities

A report carried out by the Brookings Institution is a comprehensive study on the demographics and living situation of the millennial generation. Unsurprisingly, the report reveals that millennials are the most ethnically diverse generation yet. The most interesting information, however, is a map of the US cities with respect to their millennial population. The map notes cities with the highest percentage of millennials, as well as cities with the largest increase and decrease in millennial population. analyzed and placed this data into charts which you can view on their website. Put together, all this information provides a clearer picture of where this generation is living. Though the data charts a period from 2010 to 2015, it’s safe to assume that not too much has changed since then. By the beginning of the next decade, we may start to see these trends take fuller effect and give us more radical change. Already, Curbed notes, the millennial population is shifting both westward and southward. The Northeast and Midwest are seeing a much smaller amount of millennial population growth, while states like Colorado, Texas, Florida and even Hawaii saw growth of more than ten percent over those five years.

Why these places?

Again, these are general trends. Some cities are outliers, but the overall action is that of a move west and south. The cities that millennials are moving to are not the traditional big cities we think of, either. New York City and Los Angeles are nowhere to be found. Even Chicago has one of the lowest rates of increase. Instead of these places, millennials seem to be choosing smaller cities that aren’t quite towns but aren’t quite megalopolises. In fact, the four cities with the highest rates of increase are Colorado Springs, San Antonio, Denver and Orlando.

The reasons are not laid out in the report, but it’s not too hard to see why these cities are among the top choices: the cost of living is low, but the standard of living is relatively high. They’re major metropolitan areas that are growing. The combination of lower rents and lower taxes is appealing to a generation that frequently struggles with student loans and uncertain job prospects. Intuit, creator of filing software TurboTax, notes that the states without income tax include happen to include Texas and Florida, states with three cities each in the top ten. If you’ve got less income to spare, it’s reasonable that you’d choose a place where you’re taxed less.


Millennials are currently in the age group where moving is to be expected. We’re probably going to be doing most of our moving now, saving a more stationary existence for retirement or when we’re more established in our careers. Therefore, the cities where millennials are moving now say a lot about what gives cities the potential to grow. It also says a lot about the current state of US culture – and possibly where we can expect epicenters of activity and culture in the years to come.

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Posted 02.20.2018 - 10:00 am EDT