5 Under-The-Radar Metros for Millennials

August 9, 2018

5 Under-The-Radar Metros for Millennials

August 9, 2018

Despite rumors to the contrary, millennial professionals are more concerned about getting a job and paying their bills on time than being within walking distance of a trendy mixed-use development.

Young renters are gravitating toward locations with these strong economic fundamentals to serve as a post-graduation landing spot:

Competitive starting salaries
Affordable multifamily housing
Proximity to fellow millennials
Career growth opportunities

Here’s a short list of five growing metros that meet these needs in spades while also offering unique incentives for recent graduates on the hunt for economic stability.


1. Colorado Springs

Average Rent (Q1 2018): $1,095
Rent Wallet Share: 19% (vs. Natl. Average: 26%)
Population Growth 2018-2023 (Ages 20-34): 7.1%
Colorado Average Graduate Annual Salary: $48,901
Key Growth Industries: Aerospace Technology and Defense Research

The number of millennials living in the Colorado Springs metro has swelled by 11.1% over the past five years, one of the fastest growth rates for this demographic group in the nation. The same population is also expected to continue growing over the next five years.

What’s driving this increase of young professionals moving to Colorado Springs? Jobs, jobs, and more jobs. The metro is expected to add nearly 23,000 jobs by the end of the year, growth that is being driven by aerospace and defense industry firms like Raytheon and Polaris Alpha. In addition to access to stable economic opportunities, Colorado Springs holds a unique appeal to millennials seeking out an active outdoor lifestyle.


2. Kansas City, MO

Average Rent (Q1 2018): $961
Rent Wallet Share: 17% (vs. Natl. Average: 26%)
Population Growth 2018-2023 (Ages 18-35): 5.5%
Missouri Average Graduate Annual Salary: $44,482
Key Growth Industries: Computer Technology and Advanced Manufacturing

With plentiful jobs and exceptionally low cost of living, Kansas City has provided a smart choice for recent graduates focused on wealth building and debt management. Technology companies like health IT firm Cerner and navigational software developer Garmin have helped to strengthen job growth in the metro and will continue creating opportunities for recent graduates. In fact, the tech industry has already seen a 157% increase in job listings year over year.

What else does the Kansas City metro have to offer young professionals over other midwestern cities with high-paying health IT jobs? Modern lifestyle amenities designed to attract young professionals are a major trend in Downtown Kansas City. Corporate offices in the metro offer child care, identify theft protection, student loan debt help, and much more in a bid to attract and retain millennial talent.


3. Phoenix, AZ

Average Rent (Q1 2018): $1,021
Rent Wallet Share: 19% (vs. Natl. Average: 26%)
Population Growth 2018-2023 (Ages 18-35): 9.6%
Arizona Average Graduate Annual Salary: $48,159
Key Growth Industries: Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Services

Opportunities to accelerate their income trajectory has made the Phoenix metro more attractive to recent graduates than ever before. Advanced manufacturing companies like Intel and Raytheon offer a wide range of high paying jobs for those willing to extend their roots into desert soil. The metro also leads the rest of nation in terms of growth for millennial wages, with annual salaries increasing by a rate of 8.2%.

An improved work-life-play dynamic is another key factor for young professionals coming out of college. Phoenix has greatly matured over the past five years in terms of cuisine, nightlife, and entertainment. Several historic buildings in Downtown Phoenix have been converted into popular bars and restaurants, which include award-winning eateries and bars serving world-ranked cocktails.


4. San Antonio, TX

Average Rent (Q1 2018): $972
Rent Wallet Share: 19% (vs. Natl. Average: 26%)
Population Growth 2018-2023 (Ages 18-35): 6.4%
Texas Average Graduate Annual Salary: $51,701
Key Growth Industries: Health care Technology and Renewable Energy

The San Antonio metro has become very adept at attracting millennials who put a priority on affordability but still want to live around other young people. In fact, more recent graduates are moving to San Antonio than any other part of Texas, including Houston and Austin. Over the past five years, San Antonio experienced an influx of millennials aged 20 to 34 as the population increased by 9.5%.

The same factors that have millennials coming to San Antonio continues to make the metro an ideal spot to start a career after college. San Antonio has no shortage of high-paying job opportunities, thanks in part to the city’s comprehensive tax incentives that have rewarded businesses over the past few years for expanding operations. Thriving health care and renewable energy industries have also contributed to the growing millennial population. One in six San Antonio employees are employed by the biosciences and health care sector, making the metro a major draw for young professionals in medical fields.


5. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

Average Rent (Q1 2018): $1,291
Rent Wallet Share: 20% (vs. Natl. Average: 26%)
Population Growth 2018-2023 (Ages 18-35): 3.2%
Minnesota Average Graduate Annual Salary: $51,329
Key Growth Industries: Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing

The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro is not a traditional urban core in that the metro is not built around a university or tech corridor. However, the community has been successful in attracting young professionals to start their career in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis has not received attention as a top graduate landing spot in part because young professionals have trickled in gradually rather than during a noticeable spurt. However, the demographic has grown by 7% over the past 10 years.

So, what’s attracting recent graduates to the Twin Cities and keeping them around? The city’s economy is extremely diverse, meaning that millennials from a long list of industries can add the city to their job search. Minneapolis has also invested heavily in creating a downtown district that is attractive to young professionals. A farmer’s market, dedicated green spaces, networking hubs, and diverse retail options are a tempting combination for recent graduates searching for a rich yet affordable urban experience.