In a recent survey one-in-five Millennials said New York is their ideal city. Less than 1% said the same of Philadelphia. Ironically, however, the city of Ben Franklin and cheesesteaks outranks its more popular brethren when it comes to qualities the young purport to value.
Millennial-run apartment search site Abodo set out to determine what their generational-peers look for in a city to call home by surveying 2,000 people born between 1982 and 1998. Respondents rated 20 qualities on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 connoting the highest importance.
It turns out, the top three qualities Millennials want in a city are economic in nature: a thriving job market (average score: 8.19), affordable rent (7.94) and affordable home prices (7.55). Beyond those core three, the ratings for quality of life metrics were fairly evenly dispersed. Rounding out the top third of the list were parks or hiking trails (6.52), non-chain restaurants (6.49) and quality pizza (6.11). Meanwhile, items ranging from top-rate public schools (6.07) to an LGBTQ-friendly environment (5.47) to access to music venues (5.38) all have above average ratings. In fact, the only quality not achieving a score greater than five was the presence of a local college or university (4.99).
To Sam Radbil, communications manager at Abodo, the survey shows “Millennials are career driven.” He added, “Despite Millennials’ reputation for being lazy or entitled they care about the job market and their careers. They are looking for a place that is affordable.”
Interesting distinctions arise when the group is divided by age range, comparing 18-to-22 year-olds with 23-to-28 year-olds and 29-to-34 year-olds. Employment and housing are key concerns among all three groups, though affordable rent outranks job prospects only for the youngest cohort.
For the oldest group home purchase price becomes more important than rental prices. While unsurprising, the differences among age groups do reflect recent trends. After years of hand-wringing over whether young people would participate in this traditional rite of passage, surveys suggest Millennials do want to buy and that as they get older they are taking the ownership plunge. According to the National Association of Realtors, Millennials now make up the largest share of home buyers at 35%. The median age of a first time buyer is currently 31.
When it comes to location, nearly 20% of people surveyed list New York as their perfect city. Next up is San Francisco at 10%, Seattle and Portland at 9% and Los Angeles at nearly 8%. All of these cities have 80% or more of the 20 qualities Abodo pegged as important and most have several of the traits Millennials value highest. By Adodo’s calculations, however, several cities that barely registered with the survey-group may have more of what the generation is looking for, including Philadelphia (which got top city rating from just 0.89% of people), Washington D.C. (1.36%) and Boston (2.3%).
The company judged Philadelphia as the best city for Millennials in part due to solid marks on job market (the Philadelphia region’s unemployment rate was 20 basis points below the national average when the data was pulled) and average home prices (sale and rental) of at or below 30% of average income.
Of course, some of the metrics are subjective–a New Yorker may not agree Philadelphia has quality pizza. (Disclosure: the author of this post lives in New York, went to college in Philadelphia and has strong feelings about pizza.) But the survey’s broader point–that places you’ve never thought of may have exactly what you’re looking for–remains indisputable.