Real Estate

The Best Cities for Generation Z

Jumping into adulthood has been tough of late. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, young adults scurried back to their parents’ or grandparents’ homes. Roughly 80 percent of them were members of Generation Z, those born in the late 1990s through the early 2000s; a third of that generation is still living there today. Now, inflation and competition for rentals have created more obstacles to moving out.

But there are reasons for optimism: In July, 528,000 new jobs were created across the country, more than doubling projections and dropping the unemployment rate to 3.5 percent — equaling the rate in February 2020, which was a 50-year low. Last week, President Biden announced a plan to cancel at least $10,000 in student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans, which could east financial pressure. And the rise of remote work has allowed more employees to explore less expensive housing markets.

Hey, Gen Z: Maybe it’s time to move out?

A recent study by CommercialCafe, a real estate listing service owned by the data firm Yardi Matrix, offers some help in finding the cities best suited for 18- to 25-year-olds. Each of the largest 45 U.S. cities was scored on characteristics important to them: affordability, Gen Z population share, unemployment rate, internet speed, recreational and dining establishments, green commuting options, number of parks and school enrollment. Scores for all metrics were totaled to rank each city.

Atlanta finished first overall, with its large Gen Z population and many parks helping to offset its somewhat pricier housing (it ranked 28th for affordability). Second was Minneapolis, which scored well for its large Gen Z population and low unemployment rate. (Omaha had the lowest unemployment rate, helping raise it to 12th place overall.)

Only San Francisco scored lower than New York for affordability, but New York squeezed into 10th place overall thanks to its zippy internet speeds, ample recreation and dining options, and variety of green commuting options (walking, biking, public transportation).

The metrics will vary in importance to each person, so it’s worth digging into the report to see which cities offer which benefits. If you want the company of people your own age, get out of grandma’s basement and head to Tucson, Ariz., where Gen Zers make up over 11 percent of the population, the largest share of all the cities studied.

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