Illustration: Ashley Siebels
Cities including Denver, Milwaukee and Austin have won some renown as being hip and welcoming to young millennials for their quality of life, good transportation, and sometimes, their plentiful access to legal marijuana.
But how long will these cities maintain their popularity? There may be an expiration date on their hipness, if a new study is right.
The 2017 Mayflower Mover Insights Study conducted by the American moving company talked to 1000 millennials between 18 and 35 years old and found that 41% of millennials have relocated to a new city without meaning to stay there for good (called “vacation movers”). Around 53% of the age group reported “they’re likely” to do so over the course of the next five years.
Dr. Jeffrey Arnett, Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at Clark University, said millennials tend to feel less tied down than other generations — perhaps because they largely don’t own homes or cars — and so are flexible in where they live.
“Millennials are a generation of what I call ‘adventure movers.’ Their motivations for moving are influenced by a sense of adventure, making these moves relatively short-term…More than any generation before them, millennials have defined their 20s as a period of freedom and instability. This flexibility allows millennials to make moves in search of new job opportunities or adventures, even if they don’t plan to stay in the long run,” Arnett said.
The moving company found that young people have specific tendencies when it comes to finding a place to live, if they plan to stay there, and why.
Lifestyle choices come first
One surprising finding: some millennials are moving to try out a city even if they don’t have a job yet.
Around 74% of millennials said they moved to a new city with the intention of moving out of it “in a certain timeframe,” with 40% “making a vacation move” for a new position, 30% “for a new lifestyle or experience” and 26% did so because they were seeking employment.
The purpose of the moves, however, seems to be a bit of a Goldilocks pursuit: finding the ideal place to settle and start a life. That’s why 87% of millennials reported that they are aiming to live permanently in the city they live in now, “or find a city to live in permanently.”
Despite studies that show that millennials are not getting married as often, they are still seeking adult milestones, the results of the Mayflower Mover study suggest. Around 78% said age 35 is around when they want to “settle down,” and among the top reasons for doing so are “getting a job they love,” “getting their dream house or apartment,” and “getting married.”
One of the stereotypes about millennials is definitely accurate: they prefer urban centers rather than rural areas. For the Mayflower Movers study, 81% percent of participants ages 30 to 35 said they currently reside in “a big city or an inner suburb near the city.”
Cities millennials like
Mayflower also listed the top 10 cities the age group is reportedly flocking to in the news release, based on moves the company carried out between January and December 2016. Big cities are still the big centers of millennial life. The five most popular are San Francisco in first place, Los Angeles second, Washington, D.C. third, Seattle fourth and Chicago fifth.
What about the millennials who aren’t moving?
But every young person definitely isn’t moving out. It takes money to move, and many millennials are still searching for financial stability, even prioritizing basic healthcare benefits over other workplace perks.
CNBC reported in 2016 that millennials favor “personal experiences” more than material things, like “cars and homes,” and are seeking recreation and entertainment options.
That being said, some are also living with their parents. In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that “in 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 were slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household,” which the article largely attributed to the decrease of “young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35.”