Three Reasons Gens X, Z and Millennials Are Moving to Small Towns
There's a trend that has been quietly growing for the better part of the last decade. Millennials, younger Gen Xers and older Gen Zers are leaving big cities and moving to small towns. Since 2014, an average of about 30,000 city dwellers per year between the ages of 24 and 40 have left the rat race of the city for small town life.[i] The pandemic greatly accelerated that trend. According to CNBC [ii], 32% of Gen Z relocated during the pandemic, along with 26% of millennials. Reasons for the Great Relocation include being closer to friends and family (31%), more affordable living (27%) or the ability to work from anywhere (17%).
Let's look a little deeper at this trend.
Reasons young people are moving to small towns
Home storage giant SpareFoot[iii] cites several factors that are driving this trend.
City life is more stressful than living in small towns.
The sheer volume of people, energy, and hustle and bustle in a large city adds a layer of stress to everything you do. Add a couple of kids into the mix, and trying to get anywhere or do anything just got that much more difficult. In small towns, you just don't experience that.
Cost of living in small towns is lower.
From housing to entertainment to groceries to parking — you name it — almost everything costs more in the city. Childcare alone is like taking out a mortgage. When you're paying $18 for a burger at a restaurant, or shelling out $500 per month for two parking spaces at your apartment building, or dropping $250 on a haircut and color at the salon, it doesn't leave much room for savings. But it's not just about that.
Many millennials, younger Gen Xers, and older Gen Zers are at the stage in their lives when they're thinking about buying a house and perhaps starting a family. That dream may be out of reach in the city, where the cost of living is typically hirer than rural areas. It's not that this cohort doesn't have good jobs. They do. It's the crushing amount of student debt they're carrying that contributes to the problem. According to the Education Data Initiative[iv], in 2021, federal student loan debt topped out at $1.57 trillion in this country. Gen X is carrying the most student debt, an average of $45,095 per person. Millennials aren't far behind, at $38,877. Gen Z's average debt is just $17,388, but that could be accounted for by the fact that the oldest Gen Zer is just 24 years old in 2021.
Because of that burden of debt, these young people simply aren't finding houses they can afford in pricey areas of the city. But move out to smaller towns, and all of a sudden, you're getting more house than you thought you could ever afford, with land as well. With entertainment and other things costing much less, young people have a real chance to grab that American dream.
Remote work is more possible now than ever before.
The pandemic changed everything, but nothing more so than the ability to work at home. Companies have seen that it's possible to get the job done remotely, and many employees simply don't want to go back to the office, ever. Couple that with the fact that broadband is extending further into rural areas and small towns than it has in the past (especially with the passage of the new infrastructure bill) and suddenly it is possible to live in the country and work in the city...from your own home office.
It boils down to the fact that life at a slower pace is appealing to many young people who are starting families, or who just want out of the rat race. Now it's possible to move to a small town or rural area and still keep your job, earn a great living, and not have the stress of living in the city. That seems like the best of all possible worlds to us!
Are you ready for life at a slower pace? Contact us today!