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Where Millennials Are Moving – 2019 Edition


The millennial generation has come of age. This cohort is working in a variety of jobs and relocating to different cities. Some cities and states, though, are more popular spots for millennials to move to than others. They could be moving for a variety of reasons. Job opportunities, affordable housing (whether it involves renting or making mortgage payments) and quality of life could all be factors determining where millennials are moving.

SmartAsset used Census Bureau data to find where exactly millennials are moving. We looked at immigration and emigration data for 173 cities. For more information on our data sources and how we put our findings all together to create the final rankings, see the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s third annual study on where millennials are moving. Read the 2018 study here.

Key Findings

  • New cities in the mix. Only three of the cities on this year’s top 10 were also in the top 10 of our 2018 study on where millennials are moving: Seattle, Washington; Columbia, South Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia. New trends in employment or a shift in what millennials are looking for in a home could be part of this change. This isn’t true when it comes to states, though. Eight of the states on this year’s list also made it into last year’s top 10. Tennessee and New Hampshire replaced Virginia and Florida.
  • Millennials are heading South and West. All of the cities in the top 10 of our study represent states that are in the Western and Southern regions of the country, spanning the South Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Although two Midwestern cities make their way into the top 25 (St. Paul, Minnesota ranks 13th and Minneapolis, Minnesota ranks 22nd), there are no Northeastern cities in the top 25.

The States Where Millennials are Moving

For the second year in a row, Washington State leads the country in terms of net millennial migration. The net migration into the state was 36,257, which is approximately 0.50% of its population.

Washington State, however, does not have the highest number of incoming millennials overall. There were 111,728 new millennial residents making a new home there, which is the sixth-highest figure for total incoming residents in the study. The states with the highest number of incoming millennials include North Carolina (with a total influx of 114,245 millennials), New York (with a total influx of 141,802), Florida (with a total influx of 155,482), Texas (with a total influx of 199,113) and California (with the highest total influx of 231,598 millennials).

States from the South and the West also dominate the top 10, and include Oregon, Arizona, North Carolina and Texas. New Hampshire is the only state in the top 10  that is not in either the West or the South.

Cities Where Millennials are Moving

1. Dallas, TX

Dallas, Texas comes out on top in this study, boasting the biggest net increase in millennial residents, according to Census data. There was a net increase of 10,371 people to the Texas metropolis. Dallas also has the third-highest total number of millennials moving in of all the cities in this study, at 43,159. Texas has favorable tax laws, which could enhance the attraction of millennials to Dallas. It’s also one of the top American cities to work in tech.

2. Seattle, WA

Seattle, Washington dropped one spot from its first-place ranking last year. There were 33,989 new millennials moving into the Emerald City, according to Census data, and 25,982 who left. That leaves a net gain of 8,007 millennial residents. Seattle is a hub of culture and tech, both of which are likely drawing younger people to live there.

3. Portland, OR

Staying in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon takes the third spot. Portland offers plenty in the way of food and culture, and is a great city for coffee lovers. It shows in the migration numbers, too. There was a net gain of 6,586 millennials into the city. A lot of them were coming from out of state. Of the 25,405 millennials that moved to Portland in 2017, more than 15,533 of them came from a state other than Oregon.

4. Columbia, SC

Columbia, South Carolina takes fourth place. This college town, home of the University of South Carolina, saw a net influx of 6,554 millennials, which is 4.95% of its population. That’s the largest percentage for this metric out of all 173 cities in our study.

5. Norfolk, VA

Norfolk, Virginia, which came in ninth on this list last year, comes in fifth this year. The net gain in millennial residents for Norfolk was 5,430, which is 2.25% of the city’s population. Norfolk is the home of the world’s biggest naval base as well as a public research university, Old Dominion University. Both of these, which create jobs and culture, could be some of the factors drawing millennials to the southern Virginia town.

6. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, North Carolina continues the run of Southern cities on this list. Charlotte saw a net increase of 5,060 millennials moving in in 2017. Of the 22,496 millennials who became new neighbors in Charlotte, Census data shows that 15,284 of them were from out of state.

7. Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs, Colorado comes next. This town, home of the U.S. Airforce Academy, had a net increase of 3,368 millennials. Of the total 16,279 millennials who moved into the city in 2017, 10,481 of them were from out of state.

8. San Diego, CA

San Diego, California is next with a net millennial population increase of 3,342. That’s only 0.24% of San Diego’s overall population. Southern California weather and access to the beach may be part of what makes millennials move to San Diego. California is also one of top 10 states where rich millennials are moving.

9. Clarksville, TN

Clarksville, Tennessee takes the ninth spot on our list. The net increase in millennial population here was 3,330. Of the total 9,740 millennials who moved into Clarksville in 2017, a majority of them – 7,773 people – came from outside of Tennessee.

10. Henderson, NV

The final city on this list is Henderson, Nevada. Henderson is right near Las Vegas, a city with plenty of nightlife as well as employment options. The net influx of millennials who moved into Henderson was 3,028. Of the total 4,957 millennials who made a new home in Henderson, 4,622 were from out of state. Interestingly, Henderson is also the No. 1 city where retirees are moving.

Data and Methodology

To calculate which cities and states millennials are moving into, SmartAsset compared 2017 Census Bureau migration data for 173 cities and all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C.

We compared the number of people between the ages of 20 and 34 who emigrated out of each city and state to the number who immigrated into the city and state. We then ranked each city and each state by the highest difference between the number who immigrated and the number who emigrated.

Data on migration patterns comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 1-year American Community Survey.

Tips for Buying a Home

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