For many millennials, buying a home might seem like an impossible task. There are the costs, of course, but also this overarching question: Which city will give you and your family the best chance of success?
To determine the best cities for millennials who want to buy a home, GOBankingRates analyzed the largest 50 metro areas in the U.S., and scored them on their unemployment rates, millennial home ownership levels, millennial home values and mortgage affordability.
Click through to see the most affordable places for millennials to buy homes.
Average millennial home value: $198,433
Nearly 28 percent of millennials living in Milwaukee are homeowners, where mortgage affordability ranks toward the bottom compared to the other major cities on this list. In addition to the ability to own homes, millennials might be drawn to Milwaukee for other factors including its walkability and big-city amenities like multiple professional sports teams.
See why it makes more sense to buy a home in Wisconsin than rent one, according to a previous GOBanking Rates study.
19. Richmond, Va.
Average millennial home value: $217,208
Even though homes are more expensive in Richmond than Milwaukee, there is a greater percentage of millennials buying homes there, with 31.9 percent of millennials owning homes in the city. This could be due to slightly more affordable mortgages, as well as other draws for millennials such as a strong labor market — unemployment is below the national average at 3.7 percent — and relatively high incomes for people in that age group, according to a Zillow analysis.
Another benefit for millennials looking to buy in Richmond: It is one of the cities across the country where housing prices are plummeting.
18. Austin, Texas
Average millennial home value: $247,319
Unemployment rates are relatively low in Austin at 2.6 percent, which could be a major draw for job-seeking millennials. However, the percentage of millennials who own homes in Austin is also relatively low — 26.5 percent — which prevents the state from ranking higher on the list.
Still, the city has millennial appeal thanks to its overall livability, according to a 2017 Apartment List ranking. The real estate site determined livability scores based on weather; access to parks, community activities and nightlife; opportunities to date and make friends; and safety and low crime rates.
17. Jacksonville, Fla.
Average millennial home value: $179,765
The prices of millennial homes in Jacksonville are relatively low, but the city has less affordable mortgage rates compared to the other metro areas on this list. However, Jacksonville has a below-average unemployment rate at 3.3 percent and is among the best markets for millennial workers, according to the Florida Times-Union.
16. Columbus, Ohio
Average millennial home value: $171,660
Thirty percent of millennials are homeowners in Columbus, where mortgages are relatively affordable compared to the other metro areas in this study. Unemployment in the city is below the national average at 3.7 percent.
In addition to job opportunities, millennials are moving to Columbus for its overall affordability, thriving restaurant and bar scene, music and theater venues and outdoor activities. It’s also becoming easier to live there without the expense of owning a car thanks to an emphasis on developing dense, walkable areas, plus car- and bike-sharing services and public transportation, according to the Unpakt Blog.
Average millennial home value: $291,299
Even though Denver has less affordable mortgages than many of the other cities on this list, the city still has a high percentage of millennials who own homes: 34.2 percent. It also has one of the lowest unemployment rates at 2.6 percent.
The low unemployment rate and millennial appeal are likely connected to its thriving startup scene, according to WeWork. A separate GOBankingRates study found that Colorado is one of the top 10 best states to start a business.
14. Raleigh, N.C.
Average millennial home value: $212,820
Mortgages are relatively affordable in Raleigh, where 34.3 percent of millennials are homeowners. The Southern city ranked high on a Growella study of millennial livability because of its high number of full-time, entry-level jobs available and a lower-than-average cost of living.
13. Dallas-Fort Worth
Average millennial home value: $200,805
Nearly 29 percent of millennials own homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where mortgages are relatively affordable. The city has a 3 percent unemployment rate, and is one of the 12 cities with the most job openings in the U.S., a separate GOBankingRates study found. The low cost of living and wide variety of lifestyle options make the metro area appealing to millennials, according to Forbes.
12. Charlotte, N.C.
Average millennial home value: $183,075
Charlotte is one of two cities in North Carolina that made the list of best cities to buy a home for aspiring millennial homeowners, thanks to its relatively affordable homes and mortgages. In addition to having financially accessible housing, the city has a large startup community, a fast-growing craft brewery scene and a location that allows easy access to the mountains and ocean, all of which add to its millennial appeal, according to Charlotte Stories.
Average millennial home value: $173,955
Cincinnati has more affordable mortgages than most of the major cities on this list, and 35.9 percent of millennials are homeowners in the city. Unemployment in Cincinnati is just under the national average at 4 percent. According to a Niche.com ranking, Cincinnati received top scores for outdoor activities, nightlife, diversity and commute, which could be important factors to millennials.
10. San Antonio
Average millennial home value: $192,208
Compared to the other metro areas included in this study, San Antonio has relatively affordable mortgages as well as a low unemployment rate at 2.9 percent. A 2017 Apartment List survey ranked the city fourth-best overall for millennials, based on jobs, affordability and livability.
Average millennial home value: $152,731
Pittsburgh has the most affordable mortgages of any city included in this study. It also has the fifth-highest percentage of millennials who own homes, with 37.5 percent of the millennials in the city owning their living spaces. In addition to affordable housing, the city also has a strong job market and vibrant social scene, according to Apartment List.
Average millennial home value: $148,404
Over 40 percent of millennials own homes in Detroit thanks to the availability of relatively inexpensive homes and affordable mortgages. Although the unemployment rate is slightly higher in Detroit than the national average, the city has seen a recent boom in tech jobs, with the tech market growing 40 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to a CBRE study. A separate GOBankingRates study found that Michigan is one of the best states for first-time home buyers.
7. Oklahoma City
Average millennial home value: $172,485
About 37 percent of the millennials living in Oklahoma City are homeowners, likely thanks to the fact that the city has more affordable mortgages than most of the other metro areas included in this study. The city is also a good place to find high-paying entry-level jobs, and the wage gap between younger and older workers is less extreme there than in some other major cities, according to Mic.com.
6. Louisville, Ky.
Average millennial home value: $158,974
Louisville ranks in the middle for affordable mortgages compared to the other metro areas on this list, and a high percentage of millennials who own homes: 38.5 percent. Unemployment in the Southern city is below the national average at 3.7 percent. Development continues to boom in the city, which already has an expansive restaurant scene, according to Insider Louisville.
Career Boost: Best Cities to Score Your Dream Job
5. Kansas City, Mo.
Average millennial home value: $170,254
Over 37 percent of millennials living in Kansas City own homes, and the city has the third-most-affordable mortgages of all of the metro areas on this list. Kansas City also has a relatively low unemployment rate at 3.2 percent. The city appeals to millennials thanks to its mix of an urban culture, with lots of restaurants and nightlife options, plus more space and affordable single-family homes than are available in larger cities, The Washington Post reports.
Average millennial home value: $161,856
Indianapolis has the second-most-affordable mortgages compared to the other metro areas on this list, and 37.4 percent of millennials living there own their homes. The city’s unemployment rate is below the national average at 3.2 percent.
NBC News called Indianapolis a “dream city” for millennials because of its combination of low pricing per square foot and a strong job market. Recruiting, hiring and training firm Elwood Staffing is the most popular company in Indianapolis, a separate GOBankingRates study found.
Average millennial home value: $213,090
Even though Nashville has higher home prices and less affordable mortgages than the other cities on this list, it ranks No. 3 in large part due to its job market. The city has an unemployment rate of 2.3 percent, the lowest of any city featured in this study. Adding to the city’s millennial appeal is its vibrant nightlife, new retail and residential spaces, and an innovative food and bar scene, according to Forbes. Now is the time to buy in Nashville, since the city has one of the hottest housing markets.
2. St. Louis
Average millennial home value: $167,791
St. Louis ranks highly for its relatively affordable mortgages and low unemployment rate of 2.7 percent. Over 40 percent of millennials in the city are homeowners — the second-highest percentage of any metro area included in this study. In addition to affordable homes, St. Louis has a vibrant startup scene and remains the home of several major multinational corporations, including Anheuser-Busch, Ralston Purina, McDonnell Douglas and Monsanto.
Average millennial home value: $222,528
Minneapolis tops the list with the largest percentage of millennials who are homeowners — 42.4 percent — compared to the other metro areas included in this study. It also has the lowest unemployment rate, tied with Nashville at 2.3 percent.
And even though home prices in Minneapolis are the third highest on this list, mortgages are still relatively affordable. The city ranks highly among millennials who live there thanks to high salaries and an abundance of office snacks, according to Forbes.
Where to Find the Best Cities for Millennials
Head inland if you’re a millennial looking to buy a home. There you’ll find the right mixture of low housing prices, low unemployment and growing cities.
Methodology: To determine the best cities for millennials who want to buy a home, GOBankingRates analyzed the largest 50 metro areas in the U.S. for the following data: unemployment rate, the percentage of millennials who own homes, the average millennial home value and mortgage affordability. We scored each of the factors and ranked the cities based on overall score to determine where millennials should be moving to give themselves the best chance of success. Each state’s unemployment rate is sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percentage of millennials who own homes and the average millennial home value are sourced from Abodo. Mortgage affordability is sourced from Zillow.
About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.