5 Great Cities for Gen Y'ers

Jerry Kronenberg

BOSTON (MainStreet) -- With mobile phones, mobile computing, Foursquare and GPS, "Generation Y" seems like it's always on the move -- but where should its 20- and 30-something members be moving to?

Move Inc.(:MOVE), parent company of Realtor.com and other relocation-oriented Web sites, recently assessed dozens of U.S. cities for everything from nightlife to average apartment rents to find five great places for Gen Y'ers to live. Also called millennials because they've come of age since the year 2000, Gen Y'ers are young adults in their 20s and early to mid-30s.

"We're finding that millennials look at buying homes differently than baby boomers do," Move's Julie Reynolds says. "Where baby boomers look at homes more as investments, millennials see housing as more of a lifestyle option. More millennials are living closer to where they work, closer to the central part of towns and focus on cultural activities and other things to do other than just work."

So Move assessed cities for such things as parks, museums, professional sports teams and other recreational offerings.

The firm also focused on communities with nearby colleges and universities, as many Gen Y'ers are looking for undergraduate or graduate-study programs.

And since many Gen Y'ers are just starting out and need jobs and affordable housing, Move found cities with low unemployment rates, modest average rents and affordable median home prices.

"We looked for communities where the local real estate market has either hit bottom, is very, very close to the bottom or has already begun rebounding," Reynolds says. "We figured Gen Y'ers might want to 'test drive' a community as renters, then put down some roots and buy their first homes if they like it."

Lastly, the site picked communities in states a recent U.S. Census Bureau study identified as the top relocation destinations for Americans.

Click below for an alphabetical rundown of the five cities Move recommends for Gen Y'ers. Median property prices refer to asking prices on Realtor.com as of May and exclude mobile homes. Average rents reflect listings on Rentbit.coms, and local jobless rates are U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures as of May.

Athens, Ga.

This community some 70 miles east of Atlanta is home to the 34,700-student University of Georgia, which provides Gen Y-friendly nightlife and cultural activities.

R.E.M. and the B-52s got their starts in Athens, and Rolling Stone magazine dubbed the 115,000-population city's clubs the "No. 1 College Music Scene" in 2003.

"The music scene in Athens is surprisingly hot," Reynolds says.

She adds that the university provides young adults with lots of continuing-education and spectator-sports opportunities, while Athens also hosts the Sandy Creek Nature Center and other outdoor sites.

Gen Y'ers will also appreciate Athens' low 6.5% jobless rate, $804-a-month average rent and $174,900 median home price.

Realtor.com lists some 1,200 properties for sale there. Prices range from $18,900 for a bank-owned two-bedroom condo to $3.5 million for an 11-acre estate.


Reynolds lived in Dallas for part of her 20s and says she "really enjoyed it. There are lots of cultural activities, really great nightlife -- and the barbecue in Dallas can beat anything."

The northeast Texas city is also home to 10,900-student Southern Methodist University, 17,100-student University of Texas and Dallas and other schools, giving Dallas a large Gen Y population.

All of those young people mean plenty of nightclubs, while the universities also provide lots of spectator-sports opportunities. And of course, Dallas plays host to the legendary Dallas Cowboys football franchise and Dallas Mavericks NBA team.

The 6.3-million-population metro area also offers a 6.8% unemployment rate, a $1,314-a-month average rent and a $204,900 median property price.

There are some 4,600 Dallas houses and condos listed for sale on Realtor.com, priced from $14,900 for a three-bedroom bank-owned home to $29.5 million for a 10-acre estate.


Arizona's capital and largest city, Phoenix and surrounding communities host the four-campus Arizona State University -- whose 70,400 students make it America's biggest institution of higher learning. 

"Phoenix is such a big university town that you know the nightlife for millennials is very attractive," Reynolds says.

The 4.2 million-population metro area is also a sports lover's paradise, with the Arizona Cardinals football team, Phoenix Suns basketball franchise, Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club and Phoenix Coyotes hockey team all calling the city home.

Fifteen Major League Baseball teams also hold spring training there, while Phoenix is set to host the 2015 Super Bowl.

The area also features a modest 7.2% unemployment rate, $828-a-month average rent and $185,500 median home price.

If you want to move there, Realtor.com has some 3,700 Phoenix residences listed for sale. Prices start at $12,000 for a short-sale three-bedroom townhouse that needs work and run to $11.9 million for a nine-bedroom estate.


The Steel City gets the nod for its affordability, good universities and spectator sports.

"Pro sports are practically a religion in Pittsburgh," Reynolds says. "Millennials who like them are really going to go for living there."

Pittsburgh hosts the stories Steelers football franchise, Pirates baseball team and Penguins hockey club.

While there's no professional-basketball team, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers have made the NCAA Men's Division 1 National Championship Tournament for 10 of the past 11 seasons.

In addition to the 28,800-student University of Pittsburgh, the 2.4 million-population Pittsburgh area also hosts 11,600-student Carnegie Mellon University, 10,100-pupil Duquesne University and several smaller schools.

There are also lots of sports bars and nightclubs to attract Millennials.

Pittsburgh also boasts a low 6.6% unemployment rate, $1,074 average rent and $143,250 median home price.

Realtor.com lists roughly 4,600 Pittsburgh properties for sale, from a $6,000 two-bedroom home to a $2 million three-bedroom condo in a complex a developer is carving out of a former downtown department store.

Tallahassee, Fla.

Florida's state capital offers Gen Y'ers a modest 7.2% jobless rate and low-cost housing -- $787 a month average rents and $159,000 median home prices.

And as home to the 40,400-student Florida State University, Tallahassee has plenty of educational opportunities and lots of youth-oriented nightclubs.

Outdoor enthusiasts will also appreciate the 367,000-person metro area's lush greenery and its proximity to the nearby Apalachicola National Forest and the Gulf of Mexico coast just 20 miles away.

"Because it's close to the Gulf Coast, Tallahassee has a very casual vibe that will appeal to Millennials," Reynolds says.

As for housing, Realtor.com lists some 2,000 Tallahassee homes and condos for sale, starting at $15,000 for a four-bedroom house and running to $4 million for a 4.7-acre estate.