Why do millennials move where they do?

by Steve Randall26 Apr 2019

The top US housing markets for millennials are often chosen for the job market and affordability and a new report looks at the markets that are currently popular with this cohort of homebuyers and owners.

The National Association of Realtors’ report considered the 100 largest metro areas in its analysis of employment gains, population trends, income levels and housing conditions.

In Madison, WI, 75% of recent movers to the city are millennials and that generation makes up 32% of the population.

"In comparison to other areas, Madison offers one of the highest wages for millennials ($68,500)," says Yun. "Moreover, this income level combined with the robust employment opportunities and the affordability, make Madison among one of the most appealing locations for millennials who are looking to stay longer and raise families."

Despite high home prices, California is a popular destination for millennials and Bakersfield – between San Francisco and Los Angeles - is offering some of the state’s most affordable homes. More than two thirds of recent movers and 28% of residents are millennials.

"The increasing employment rate in California is another strong selling point among this generation," says Yun. "While the rate of unemployment in Bakersfield is higher than it is nationwide, we're seeing job growth there pick up at a strong pace. Home building in Bakersfield is rising, too. Many newcomers to San Francisco and Los Angeles do not stay for long because of unaffordability. Millennials moving to Bakersfield meanwhile are looking to take advantage of conditions toward homeownership."

Millennial homebuying stats

One out of two people who moved in the 100 largest metro areas was a millennial (54%), and one of four residents was also a millennial (25%).

  • In the top 10 metro areas, millennials can afford to purchase, on average 17% of homes currently listed for sale.
  • The median income for millennials who recently moved in the 100 largest metro areas was $53,000. Millennials who moved recently in these areas can afford to purchase nearly one out of four of the homes currently listed for sale (23%).
  • In the majority of the top 10 metro areas, the unemployment rate was lower than the national level in February 2019. Specifically, on average, the unemployment rate was 3.6% in these areas.


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