The 15 Cheapest Cities With Lots of Young Residents

The 15 Cheapest Cities With Lots of Young Residents

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The 15 Cheapest Cities With Lots of Young Residents

Information about The 15 Cheapest Cities With Lots of Young Residents

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Porch.

Less likely to be tied down by family and mortgages, young people tend to be more mobile than their older counterparts. Cheaper cities where young people can afford to rent or own a home are especially attractive to those who may still be saddled with student loans or are just starting out in their careers.

Nationally, people under age 30 account for about 38% of the population, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While the U.S. population is aging as a whole, and many cities are grappling with the effects of having stagnant or declining young populations, some more affordable cities and states have become especially popular among younger age groups.

The initial releases of the 2020 Decennial Census confirmed several important demographic trends that present growing challenges for U.S. policymakers. These trends include reduced geographic mobility, an unprecedented decline in population growth, and a rapidly aging society. In 2000, over 42% of the U.S. population was under 30. By 2020, that figure had dropped to slightly over 38 percent. Conversely, Americans over 65 accounted for 12.4% of the population in 2000, but now represent nearly 17% of the total. One major contributing factor is that the U.S. fertility rate has dropped for six consecutive years, and the number of births in 2020 was at the lowest level since 1979.

The effects of these changes will have long-lasting consequences throughout the country. According to an analysis by the Brookings Institute, it is projected that all states and metropolitan areas will continue to experience growth in their populations over age 55. This will lead to rising health care costs and declining tax revenues, among other challenges.

However, for younger age groups — with declining population shares nationally — it will largely be migration that will determine which locations experience gains or losses. And according to the National Association of Realtors, affordability is more important to folks under 30 than any other age cohort.

More-affordable states tend to have larger young populations

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Recent census data shows consistency with these trends — namely, that locations with below-average living costs tend to attract more young people.

At the state level, Utah and Texas have the largest young populations, where 48.2% and 42.8% of the populations, respectively, are under 30. Both of these states offer a cost of living that is 3.5% lower than average. Texas, in particular, stands out as being among the top states for total population growth, net migration, and growth in its young population over the past 10 years. These trends have only accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, which sparked an increased number of individuals, families, and businesses to relocate to Texas from high-cost states like California in search of lower taxes, more affordable housing, and fewer government restrictions.

To find the cheapest cities with large young populations, researchers at Porch analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The researchers ranked locations according to the share of the population under age 30. Researchers also calculated the total population under 30, the cost of living (compared with the national average), the median cost of a one-bedroom rental, and median earnings for full-time workers under 30. Only metros with lower than average costs of living were included in the analysis.

Here are the cheapest large metros (population 1 million or more) with the largest young populations.

15. Raleigh-Cary, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
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  • Share of population under 30: 39.6%
  • Total population under 30: 569,275
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -3.9%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $1,134
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $36,000

14. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

Cincinnati
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  • Share of population under 30: 39.6%
  • Total population under 30: 841,529
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -9.4%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $754
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $35,000

13. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

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  • Share of population under 30: 39.7%
  • Total population under 30: 623,612
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -3.6%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $1,045
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $32,000

12. Kansas City, MO-KS

Kansas City, Missouri
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  • Share of population under 30: 39.7%
  • Total population under 30: 863,399
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -7.2%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $919
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $35,000

11. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

Nashville, Tennessee
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  • Share of population under 30: 39.9%
  • Total population under 30: 830,190
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -5.6%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $1,114
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $33,900

10. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

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  • Share of population under 30: 40.3%
  • Total population under 30: 1,963,911
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -1.3%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $1,111
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $33,000

9. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

Omaha Nebraska
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  • Share of population under 30: 40.6%
  • Total population under 30: 416,902
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -8.3%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $852
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $36,000

8. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia, Piedmont Park skyline autumn
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  • Share of population under 30: 40.6%
  • Total population under 30: 2,415,139
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -2.1%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $1,126
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $34,300

7. Columbus, OH

Columbus Ohio
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  • Share of population under 30: 40.7%
  • Total population under 30: 812,243
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -8.4%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $886
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $33,600

6. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Indianapolis
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  • Share of population under 30: 40.7%
  • Total population under 30: 833,857
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -8.9%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $831
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $35,000

5. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX

Austin, Texas
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  • Share of population under 30: 40.9%
  • Total population under 30: 921,268
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -0.7%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $1,309
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $37,000

4. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

Memphis Tennessee
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  • Share of population under 30: 41.2%
  • Total population under 30: 507,768
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -10.4%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $836
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $30,000

3. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City skyline
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  • Share of population under 30: 42.0%
  • Total population under 30: 611,458
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -10.2%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $785
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $31,300

2. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

San Antonio, Texas outdoors
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  • Share of population under 30: 42.6%
  • Total population under 30: 1,035,508
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -6.7%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $981
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $30,000

1. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah
Joe Guetzloff / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of population under 30: 45.0%
  • Total population under 30: 575,620
  • Cost of living (compared with average): -1.4%
  • Median 1-bedroom rental: $1,073
  • Median earnings for full-time workers under 30: $33,000

Detailed Findings & Methodology

millennials working office
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With 45% of its population under age 30, the Salt Lake City metro area has the largest share of young people under 30 among large metros in the country. Salt Lake City’s cost of living is 1.4% lower than average, and median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is slightly less than the national median rent of $1,096.

Among the cheapest large metros with the most young people, median one-bedroom rent ranges from $754 in Cincinnati to $1,309 in Austin. While rentals in Austin are more expensive than in the other metros, full-time workers there earn more than the national median.

In some of the cheapest small and midsize metros, young people under 30 make up a majority of the population. Young people under 30 account for about 58% of the population in Provo-Orem, Utah, and 55% in College Station, Texas. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is highly affordable in both these metros, at $874 and $817, respectively.

To find the cheapest cities with large young populations, researchers at Porch analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample, the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s 2019 Regional Price Parities, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 50th Percentile Rent Estimates. The researchers ranked locations according to the share of the population under age 30. In the event of a tie, the metro with the greater number of residents under age 30 was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated the cost of living (compared to average), the median cost of a one-bedroom rental, and median earnings for full-time workers under 30. Only locations with below-average living costs were included in the analysis.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Small metros: 100,000–349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1 million or more

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