The East and West Coasts can add another difference to the list: age demographics of residents. Nielsen recently compiled a report, “Millennials–Breaking the Myths” which examined that segment of the population aged 18 to 36 who make up 24 percent of America and are known as “Millennials.” Because Millennials comprise the same percentage of the population as Baby Boomers, Nielsen contrasted what places the two groups are calling home.
Regarding housing, the report found that while Boomers are content to be living in the East, Millennials appear to be gravitating to city-centers in the West and Southwestern regions of the U.S. For example, the concentration of Millennials in Los Angeles is 14 percent. The same goes for Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, and Dallas-Fort Worth, and Washington, D.C. As the only Eastern seaboard city, the nation’s capital was a geographical outlier for having such a highly concentrated population of Millennials.
Likewise, Boomers only had one city not in the East in their top ten, Green Bay-Appleton, Wisconsin (28 percent); a location that isn’t exactly eastern, but certainly isn’t a part of the West. Other than Green Bay, Boomers chose Charleston, West Virginia, and Boston at 28 percent as well. And the concentration of Boomers is 29 percent in Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the Tri-Cities of Tennessee and Virginia; and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
What slots 4 through 10 on the Nielsen ranking suggest about where Millennials want to live is further cemented by the top choices. Salt Lake City and San Diego tied for second with the Millennials (15 percent) and Burlington, Vermont, was runner-up for the highest concentration of Boomers (30 percent). Rather than herald this as a great migration to the cities, there is another thought underpinning the data. Nielsen called it “A Metropolitan Feel has Millennial Appeal,” an important characterization for a group who wants to be able to live near offices, shops, and restaurants.
The city with the biggest appeal and a concentration of Millennials 1.2 times higher (19 percent) than the national average is Austin, Texas. At the other end of the spectrum, and far North of Texas, is the 30 percent concentration of Boomers in Portland-Auburn, Maine. As far as Austin is concerned, the report states that the city “fits the Millennial ideal, combining urban convenience with an exciting art and music scene. Within Austin, most Millennials are found near the city core and less in the suburban and rural areas.”
The Kansas City Star highlighted the same benefits when discussing why Millennials are finding Kansas City an inviting option for work and play. But the Millennials did find fault with the public transportation options — something Kansas City will want to change to retain and attract Millennials to the area. Convenience is key when it comes to Millennials. A survey by The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America released April 22 found that 54 percent of Millennials would be willing to move to a city with better transportation options, and that 66 percent place high-quality transportation in their top three concerns when evaluating a new place to live. Three out of four surveyed believe they will live in a place that does not require a car.
Desiring to drive little and have a variety of entertainments and resources at their fingertips are likely to be factors behind Millennials wanting to continue the tradition of living in an urban area when they are older as well. The Nielsen report found that 40 percent said they wanted to continue living in an urban area throughout their life. But don’t count the ‘burbs out just yet. It was also noted in the findings that places like Miami and Jersey City are adopting New Urbanist principles to increase walkability and make the lifestyle more enticing for the Millennial crowd.