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We talk a lot about first-time home buyers, but what does a first-time home buyer look like? Where do they prefer to live? What attracts them to these destinations?

We decided to take a closer look at one particular generation that has reached an age where many of them are buying their first homes: Millennials. As a group, we came of age in the new millennium. We are more likely to text you than call, and many of us do our shopping online rather than going to the mall. When it comes to “checking in” at our first home, many of my fellow Millennials have decided that now is the right time.

Still, to determine some popular living spots where you might not have expected to hear that Millennials are congregating, we went back to something that was around long before the iPhone: census data.


Before getting into where Millennials are located across the country, we need a reliable way of finding them. Thankfully, the U.S. Census Bureau exists to keep a variety of statistics on our population.

We took a look at data from 2015 (the most recent year for which it’s available) for various cities and metro areas across the country. We then isolated the percentage of the population that was between the ages of 20 and 29. There are various definitions of what constitutes a Millennial, but the vast majority of us are in our 20s.

Many of the cities with the most Millenials by percentage have something in common that would cause them to have extremely young populations – they’re college towns. For the sake of variety, we looked for cities you wouldn’t necessarily think of as hubs for young people but that have surprisingly large populations of Millennials.

Let’s dig in.

Manhattan, Kansas

Population: 97,647

Percentage between 20 and 29 years of age: 30.2%

This is a great example of a classic college town, as it’s home to Kansas State University. It has the highest percentage of Millennials of the cities on this list. This gives the city a bit of an advantage in terms of attracting young people. How much of an advantage?

The total enrollment at Kansas State in the fall of 2015 was 24,146. That means the students would account for 24.7% of the overall population of the city. Although I’m sure there are plenty of masters and doctoral level students ages 30 and over, they are vastly outnumbered by their 20-something peers.

San Diego

Population: 3,223,096

Percentage between 20 and 29 years of age: 16.8%

San Diego is a huge naval town, which probably contributes a bit to its young population. There are a few universities in the area as well. However, one thing San Diego definitely has going for it beyond all this is beautiful weather. San Diego Magazine has published a list of the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods as well as details on affordability.

Boulder, Colorado

Population: 310,032

Percentage between 20 and 29 years of age: 17.6%

This city, located 25 miles outside of Denver, is a cultural hotspot that’s big on outdoor sports. There are various climbing routes available throughout the city, and every year, 50,000 people participate in the BolderBOULDER, a 10k race that’s one of the largest road races in the world. It’s also home to USA Rugby.

Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News, Virginia

Population: 1,706,878

Percentage between 20 and 29 years of age: 16.8%

The Census Bureau lists a few broad areas that include several cities in one metro category. One of these is the Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News part of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. San Diego may be the naval capital of the West Coast, but there’s a lot of military activity going on in this area as well. In fact, the largest employer in Norfolk is the U.S. Department of Defense.

In terms of attractions for Millennials, the area is home to the Norfolk Canyon aquarium as well as the Virginia Beach Amphitheater, which has hosted concerts as diverse as Kenny Chesney, Coldplay and Ozzy Osbourne’s Ozzfest.

Austin/Round Rock, Texas

Population: 1,889,094

Percentage between 20 and 29 years of age: 16.4%

Austin’s got a lot of things going for it in terms of Millennial attractions. The annual SXSW Interactive Festival attracts the top talent each March to show off what’s new in movies, music, art, tech and more. The area is also a bit of a tech hub. Oh, yeah – and then there’s the beautiful weather.

Fairbanks, Alaska

Population: 99,705

Percentage between 20 and 29 years of age: 21.5%

Fairbanks was kind of a surprise to me on this list, but when you think about what it has to offer, it makes sense. For instance, the Alaskan wildlife is resplendent. It’s also close to the North Pole, where you can see Santa Claus’ house. Many of the tourist attractions are related to winter activities, including sports, ice carving and viewing the northern lights.

Santa Cruz/Watsonville, California

Population: 269,278

Percentage between 20 and 29 years of age: 16.3%

They’re big on the arts in the Santa Cruz area, and it’s home to several museums and art galleries. When deciding “to be or not to be” in Santa Cruz, consider that there is also an annual Shakespeare festival.

Are you young and looking for a place to buy a home? One of the cities on this list might be a good spot for you. If you think you’re ready to buy here or anywhere else, you can get approved through Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans® or by calling our Home Loan Experts at (888) 728-4702.

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