By Paula Pant
Many millennials like to be in the middle of the action, yet they’re not (necessarily) seeking excitement in big cities. Surprisingly, millennials are suburbanizing. Recent Census Bureau findings show that millennials are flocking to big-city suburbs and lower-density cities. Check out these 10 cities, which made the list of the top 10 metros for millennial population growth.
1. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Nature lovers enjoy the sunny skies and fresh mountain air of Colorado Springs’ many parks, trails, and open-air spaces. The defense industry is a big employer in this city, with Fort Carlson, two Air Force bases, and the U.S. Air Force Academy calling Colorado Springs home. This city tops the chart for the fastest-growing millennial population.
2. San Antonio, Texas
Job opportunities abound in this small city. Recently ranked No. 11 on Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers, San Antonio also took ninth place for job growth potential. There’s lots to see and do in this popular tourist city, including The Alamo, SeaWorld, and the recently restored River Walk, which features plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops.
3. Peabody, Massachusetts
You may not have heard of Peabody, but this quaint New England seaport village has a lot to offer, including the Independence Greenway Bike Route, an outdoor summer concert series, and good shopping. With Boston only 30 minutes away, Peabody provides millennials with an opportunity to live close to a major city, but avoid the traffic, pollution, and costs associated with urban life.
Honolulu’s sunny weather and welcoming beaches are host to a vibrant mix of traditions, arts, culture, and food — and what millennial wouldn’t love that? It’s also a major hub of business, tourism, and trading for the Hawaiian Islands, with additional job opportunities in military defense, manufacturing, and research and development.
5. Denver, Colorado
A highly walkable (and bikeable) city, Denver boasts hip, urban, artistic neighborhoods for every brand of millennial. Whether your tastes fall on the eccentric or the cosmopolitan side of the spectrum (or anywhere in between), you’ll have no trouble finding a vibrant community that’s right for you.
Seattle’s got a lot more than just great coffee. It’s is a major hub for technology, green industries, art, and culture that many millennials are looking for. It’s also a great place for nature and fitness buffs, with lots of parks, forests and year-round outdoor fun.
7. Cape Coral – Fort Meyers, Florida
Home to sun, sand, and a wide network of waterways, the Cape Coral — Fort Meyers area offers amazing weather and an equally great community vibe. Its 18- to 24-year-old population is rapidly expanding, and the area offers a wide range of parks and recreational activities, from classes to sports leagues to art and music events.
If you think all Texas has to offer is cowboy hats, think again. Houston is a vibrant, multicultural city with a healthy local economy. In fact, it’s been named to several Forbes best-of lists, including “Best Places for Business and Careers,” “Best Cities for College Graduates,” and “Best Cities to Buy a Home.”
9. Oakland, California
With an average 260 sunny days a year, Oakland has a lot to make you smile. It’s one of the top LGBT-friendly cities in America, ethnically diverse, and consistently ranked high among the “coolest,” “most exciting,” and “most hipster” cities in America. From music to culture to great food, Oakland’s got it all.
10. Orlando, Florida
The theme park capital of the world has lots to offer long-term residents, too. Home to a major university (University of Central Florida), it has a young, college-town feel, not to mention sun and surf. A relatively low cost of living combined with access to diverse attractions and a friendly, easygoing vibe make this a warm and welcoming place to call home.
Paula Pant is an award-winning journalist specializing in personal finance, investing, real estate and entrepreneurship. She’s a former Deputy News Editor of the Colorado Daily (EW Scripps).