Freshly graduated young adults are opting for urbanity over suburban humdrum.

Young Americans, age 25 to 34, with bachelors degrees or higher are increasingly flocking to larger metropolitan areas, according to a report published Monday by City Observatory.

Though obvious news for some, many educated millennials are eschewing predictable choices of downtown New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Instead, close-knit urbanized communities within second-tier metropolitan areas are gaining the most traction.

Gentrifying areas of cities such as Denver, Portland and New Orleans are witnessing a veritable surge in their young educated populaces. Close-in neighborhoods, distinctive areas located near central business districts, have seen the most growth.


Denver’s knowledge economy has become a particularly commanding lure. Its young and educated population has increased 47 percent since 2000, which is double that of the New York Metropolitan area. Its percentage of young and educated per population, 7.5 percent, is greater than all other cities with the exception of Washington, San Francisco and Boston.

Situated between stunning mountain ranges and possessing a temperate climate, Denver boasts a booming tech industry and a progressively hip attitude. Same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization have likely persuaded many post-grads, typically more liberal than their parents on social issues.

Most surprising is that even historically blighted urban areas, such as Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, are welcoming new tides of millennials, regardless of their economic report cards. While such cities continue to see drops in overall populations, close-in urban enclaves are booming.

Educated millennials are continually moving to city centers, countering the trend of their parents towards suburbia. “They want something exciting, culturally fun, involving a lot of diversity — and their fathers’ suburban lifestyle doesn’t seem to be all that thrilling to many of them,” said Harvard economist Edward Glaeser to the New York Times.


Thomas Freeman is Texas-transplant and aspiring journalist trying (but often failing) to navigate New York City. A current NYU student, Thomas also writes articles and manages media content for 20to30.

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