Top States Where Gen Z is Moving in the U.S.: College-Friendly Cities with Job Opportunities and Affordable Living Attract Younger Generation

According to a study by Smart Asset, young Americans are gravitating towards U.S. cities that offer a college-friendly environment, job opportunities, and a lower cost of living. The research, conducted using data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey in 2022, analyzed the migration patterns of Gen Z individuals (aged 18 to 24) across 268 cities in the U.S.

The top 10 states where Gen Z is moving include:

  1. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Nearly 31,400 Gen Zers moved to Ann Arbor in 2022, making up about 36% of the city’s population.
  2. Provo, Utah: 27,523 Gen Zers moved to Provo, comprising just over 42% of the city’s population.
  3. Boulder, Colorado: 25,028 Gen Zers moved to Boulder, constituting over 33% of the city’s population.
  4. College Station, Texas: 27,247 Gen Zers moved to College Station, making up 39.22% of the city’s population.
  5. Athens, Georgia: 22,213 Gen Zers moved to Athens, representing almost 28% of the city’s population.
  6. Tallahassee, Florida: 34,570 Gen Zers moved to Tallahassee, making up about 29.5% of residents.
  7. Berkeley, California: 18,699 Gen Zers moved to Berkeley, constituting around 26.5% of the city’s population.
  8. Gainesville, Florida: 22,262 Gen Zers moved to Gainesville, comprising 35% of the city’s population.
  9. Columbia, South Carolina: 20,778 Gen Zers moved to Columbia, making up almost 26% of the city’s population.
Moving Markets

These cities are characterized by their college-friendly environments, job opportunities, and affordability, attracting Gen Z individuals seeking big-city life without the high costs. The appeal of smaller cities with a high college population allows for forming a community while benefiting from advantages like affordable housing and lower living costs.

The study highlights that Texas and Florida ranked high on the list due to their lower cost of living and lower tax rates than the national average. Texas, in particular, offers significant savings for residents. At the same time, Florida’s favourable weather, beaches, absence of state income tax, and robust job market contribute to its population surge, especially among the younger generation.

These trends indicate a preference among Gen Z individuals for cities that balance education, job opportunities, and a cost-effective lifestyle. The study suggests that college towns with high rates of graduates are beautiful to this demographic, providing a chance for them to stay close to friends and leverage the benefits of these locations.


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