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Millennials are moving to surprising places to start their families

The reasons people move are as varied as the places of relocation themselves. But while career opportunities and the cultural lure of big cities remain strong, new stats show more and more millennials are drawn to areas with low costs of living.

According to new stats from Ellie Mae’s Millennial Tracker, the average homebuyer is now 29 years old—which aligns with the age when men and women are starting families these days. And with the cost of diapers and sports teams looming, most homebuyers are eager to settle into a place that costs less than $225,000.

You’re not likely to find anything for that price (especially with three or more bedrooms) in the big cities. But money sure goes a lot further in places like the Dakotas—which offer the added perk of lower childcare costs.

The top 11 cities millennials are moving to are:

  • Athens, Ohio

  • Aberdeen, South Dakota

  • Williston, North Dakota

  • Lima, Ohio

  • Dickinson, North Dakota

  • Odessa, Texas

  • Quincy, Illinois

  • El Paso, Texas

  • Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin

  • Pottsville, Pennsylvania


All of the places on the Ellie Mae list are quite small: Owensboro isn’t even served by an interstate highway and Pottsville is home to just 14,000 people. But the low mortgage payments are attracting homebuyers. (For example, the average home price in Athens, Ohio, is $189,000—about $70,000 less than the national median listing price of $259,000.)

Much like the Wallet Hub's best places to raise a family list released earlier this year, the states where millennials are moving are generally thought of as flyovers, not destinations. But with more and more young people moving there—and bringing along their innovative ideas, activities and events—it’s probably time to rethink that.

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