When it comes to the top 10 places millennials moved to the most in 2022, cities in Texas, California and Washington State were the most popular, according to a recent study from financial technology company Smart Asset. Local developers may want to pay attention to this migration.

Smart Asset researchers looked at 268 cities included in the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau 1-Year American Community Survey to drill down where exactly millennials were moving to the most. Seattle came in at No. 3 and Bellevue took the No. 7 spot.

The PNW Draw

While King County has long attracted the 25-to-44-year-old set, this latest data affirms what is drawing millennials to this area: chiefly, opportunity. Seattle and Bellevue are home to some of the world’s biggest tech giants (such as Amazon and Microsoft). Not only do these represent vital employers in the region, but they also engage with millennial tech entrepreneurs and gig workers who love the freedom of setting their own schedules and that elusive work-life balance. King County is also diverse. Particularly for Bellevue, more than 39% of its population is foreign-born, half of its population are people of color, and about 43% speak a language other than English at home.

Seattle and Bellevue both offer abundant natural outdoor recreation such as hiking, bicycling, and running trails, skiing and snowshoeing, fishing, standup paddleboarding, camping and foraging that appeal to physically active lifestyles. You’ll find no shortage of cultural attractions, either, from MoPop, Fifth Avenue Theatre and Benaroya Hall in Seattle to the Bellevue Art Musuem, Meydenbauer Center performances, and the Bellevue Botanical Gardens on the Eastside.

Millennials also gravitate to sporting events, with the region’s pro soccer, football, baseball, and hockey teams, as well as the ever-popular women’s basketball Seattle Storm, fans can find year-round fun at local stadiums and arenas. Throw in great dining, the best shopping money can buy, a myriad of breweries, wineries, and coffee, and you’ve got an après-work wonderland

Why Millennials Matter

Why put the spotlight on millennials? From a housing development and investment perspective, millennials are the largest living generation in the U.S., and this massive demographic segment has the power to reshape the housing market.  At this very moment we may not see dramatic buying shifts, but as interest rates turn more favorable to buyers, that could change.

Overall, about one in four millennials moved to a different city in 2022. Census Bureau estimates found that 8 million people (about half the population of New York) moved between states in 2022, up from 7.9 million in 2021. The increase in movers, along with an increase in the percentage of state-to-state movers (18.8% in 2021 to 19.9% in 2022), continues a decade-long trend.

A few facts pulled from Bankrate.com:

  • According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 70% of younger millennials and 46% of older millennials are first-time home buyers. First-timers make up 26% of all homebuyers, in general.
  • Millennials trailed baby boomers as the largest generation of home buyers in 2022: They now make up 28% of buyers, vs. 39% for the boomers.
  • When buying a home, over half of millennials pay either the full asking price or up to 10% more, according to NAR.
  • Personal affordability issues keep 78 percent of aspiring-homeowner millennials from purchasing a home, while current housing market/economic conditions hold back 59 percent of them, according to Bankrate’s April 2023 Financial Security Poll.

While at this moment single family homes may be out of reach for many millennials, condo purchases make an attractive first-time home-buying option, wrote Seattle–based realtor Cyrus Fiene for Geekwire. For urban and suburban markets throughout King County, this could be a sweet spot for a growing segment of new area residents looking for a permanent place to call home.

If you’re seeking quality commercial real estate investments throughout the Pacific Northwest, we’re here to help. Juniper Capital provides private real estate financing, including hard money loans for commercial, construction, multifamily residential opportunities and more. If you would like more information on this topic, call us today.