The 5 Best Cities For Millennial Home Buyers

Millennials are now the largest group of homebuyers in America, according to the National Association of Realtors. In fact, they now make up 43% of total homebuyers, ahead of Boomers, who comprise less than 30% of the market. However, the struggle is still real, as nearly a quarter of Generation Y buyers have at one point lived with friends or family to save on rent, while 29% got some type of direct monetary help to make a down payment.

Unfortunately, according to Fortune, this is a time of historically high demand and low supply, causing sky-high prices. First-time millennial buyers are often interested in similar properties to downsizing Boomers, who tend to have more money and can thus price them out of areas with a lot of overlap.

The good news? There are plenty of locales perfect for millennial homebuyers — and a handful of cities worth avoiding. According to Clever, Gen Yers are most interested in relocating somewhere affordable and fun, although the local job market and outlook on home prices are also important indicators of a good fit. Keep reading to learn more about the five best cities in America to buy a home as a millennial.

5. Grand Rapids, Michigan

If you reside in a large metropolitan area, it can sometimes feel like an impossible choice between affordability and access to cultural events. Then, when finding somewhere in your price range that has a theatre and a few museums, the nightlife is probably nonexistent. Enter Grand Rapids, Michigan, which offers the perfect mix of partying, culture, and affordability, along with some good old-fashioned Midwestern sensibility — which explains why more people don't yet know about it!

While Grand Rapids isn't Manhattan or New Orleans, for the past decade, it has been known affectionately as Beer City USA (via WoodTV). Plus, thanks to its thriving arts scene, it's becoming quite the destination city, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. Amongst other festivals and events, the city annually hosts ArtPrize, now the world's largest art competition, with 1,500 people and 150 venues being involved each year, according to World Record Academy.

Compared to other cities on this list, Grand Rapids isn't as affordable, and the job market is not as strong. However, housing costs are still 31% below average, and the median house price is $113,600, which is almost 40% below the national average, according to AreaVibes. The job market might be on the upswing, too, as Grand Rapids recently announced its ambition to become the Midwest's leading tech cluster by 2031, per Bridge Michigan.

4. Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, the sixth-largest city in Ohio, is home to the state's largest single-location employer, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (via the U.S. Air Force), and per Census data analyzed by, its median home price ranked 240th out of 247 cities in the Buckeye State. But of those cities, Dayton ranks highest for affordability and, in fact, is the fifth most inexpensive city in the nation (via Business Facilities).

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, various financial factors have become increasingly important to buyers, according to However, the goal isn't just about moving somewhere with cheap properties and low taxes, as you can only take advantage if you're able to earn a high wage, which is far from a given. In Clever's ranking of millennial cities, Dayton's job score was just 50 out of a possible 100. Because it isn't an exceptionally large city, certain high-paying jobs simply aren't available due to corporate offices being located elsewhere.

But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in specialization. In fact, the Gem City has been at the forefront of the global aerospace industry since Orville and Wilbur Wright, according to the Dayton Development Coalition. Historically, there have been plenty of high-paying engineering and tech jobs in the area. Although Dayton may not offer the perfect career fit for everyone, if you can land one of these lucrative jobs, your salary will go a long way indeed.

3. Omaha, Nebraska

If the pandemic made it mainstream to move to smaller, more affordable, and more outdoorsy cities, Omahans were certainly in on that trend before it was cool. Case in point: In 2018, Omaha ranked No. 1 as the best metro area for millennials (via RealtyHop) and ZipRecruiter's top city for college graduates to start their careers. Of course, these accolades were fresh off the back of being named the third most up-and-coming city in America by Time in 2017.

The recent drop-off in attention doesn't mean the glory days are over for Omaha, though, as people simply aren't surprised to hear that it's a desirable place to live anymore. According to Livability, the Gateway to the West is in the top 20 places to live in the country, ahead of all others on this list.

Omaha is home to Berkshire Hathaway, the seventh-biggest company on the Fortune 500 list, but Warren Buffet isn't the only game in town. "Union Pacific, Kiewit, and Mutual of Omaha are also headquartered [t]here" said networking expert Kelly Hoey (via Yahoo! Finance) "Omaha has an emerging start-up community, along with a thriving art, food, and craft beer scene. Plus, the city is home to dynamic female-founded businesses, such as Hello Holiday and Hardy Coffee Company."

2. Des Moines, Iowa

When discussing the best cities for millennials to buy a house, you may think the top locales for them to move across the country are one and the same. But you'd be wrong. If you're eyeing Des Moines as a potential moving spot, know that young people represent just 15% of the population, which ranks first in the Heartland and seventh overall nationwide (via Des Moines Register).

Des Moines's millennial boom has come about through a confluence of a low cost of living, a strong sense of community, and the availability of good tech jobs. According to The Ascent, in 2020, the average take-home salary there was $52,220 and the median home price was $140,800. This is around the right level for affordability, as the average Des Moines house costs about 2.7 years of average income, compared to 9.6 years in L.A., according to Bloomberg.

Fundamentally, the Hartford of the West is an enticing prospect for young people; after all, a large percentage of residents are similar in age. And while the scene is all about breweries and start-ups, as time goes on and your interests change, so will Des Moines. Combining this with the financial fundamentals that underpin the local housing market, Iowa's capital city feels like one of the best places left to pursue the American Dream.

1. Rochester, New York

Rochester is the birthplace of Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox, which once made it a 20th-century boomtown. In the 1980s, 60% of city residents were employed by these three corporations, per Next City. But by 2012, that figure fell to 6%, and one-third of the citizenry lived in poverty (via Democrat & Chronicle). To reverse this decline, Rochester has turned to young people — and the city's government is going further than most to attract this key demographic.

Just like the other top millennial destinations, Rochester offers low housing prices. Still, as U.S. News & World Report points out, the city's property taxes are some of the highest in the country. But what makes Rochester attractive to Generation Y is how city officials are courting them.

According to Axios, millennials are the generation to whom remote work is most important, and Rochester, named the fifth-best city in America for working from home (via Ownerly), is certainly making a play for them. Recently, the city's chamber of commerce launched Greater Roc Remote, a program that pays remote workers up to $19,000 to move there. Sounds like a winning opportunity. No wonder it's the top city in the country for millennials to buy a home. It's the one that wants them most.