BYU graduates are following the millennials move to urban centers

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The graduates at the Summer Commencement. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
The graduates at the Summer 2013 Commencement. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

Brigham Young University graduates are no longer moving to the suburbs to settle down and start a family but are moving to up-and-coming urban cities to pursue career aspirations.

A growing trend of people in the millennial generation are moving back to urban areas following their college educations. This shift in movement is leaving many wondering about the magnitude of this trend: why this is happening now and what the future millennial moving trends will be.

According to a study done by a land-use economics firm based out of Washington, D.C., RCLCO, 77 percent of millennials prefer to live in an urban city because of convenience, mobility preferences and job opportunities.

The current average millennial is single or married without children and prefers to rent rather than own a home. Researchers at the Wellesley Institute say millennials are going in the opposite direction of their parents — they are graduating from college later, getting married later and owning homes later than have previous generations.

“Millennials are moving to urban centers because the jobs are there and the lifestyle is very compelling,” said Mark Briggs, a real-estate developer in Rhode Island. “It’s difficult for recent college grads to purchase a home, but not an apartment. They can move to the city and build their credit while enjoying the city living. They aren’t purchasing cars, and they are spending their money on leisure activities.”

A recent study by the Urban Land Institute shows that nearly 60 percent of millennials choose to live near shops, offices, restaurants and transportation. The study also listed Washington, D.C., as the number-one city where millennials live, followed by Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Houston, Texas.

How is this trend affecting BYU graduates? BYU millennials are moving away from Provo and into bigger cities and urban cores following their college careers. Many graduates are moving to cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Houston in search of a new start.

“I’m moving to New York following graduation to work for Ernst & Young,” said Blake Thain, a Masters of Accountancy student. “Many of the prestigious and demanding careers are located in big cities. It offers greater exposure to the big deals that are happening in the world and forces you to learn and perform at a very fast pace.”

Former BYU students say they enjoy living in cities because of the easy transportation and new, exciting lifestyles. According to Thain, the city provides opportunities that living in the suburbs cannot.

“I believe New York City is for the young,” said Deb Tan, a former BYU student living in New York. “I feel like people come to New York to test themselves and prove that they can work through a challenging work environment, and they’re similarly drawn, as I am, to the excitement of the city.”

BYU graduates enjoy living in cities because they are able to experience a lifestyle completely different from the one in Provo but can still be surrounded by other LDS singles who share their same beliefs and values.

“Cities tend to be the ‘hip’ place to be,” said Brent Murri, a BYU graduate living in Los Angeles. “Young people want to be where other young people are, so they congregate together. The city has what people are looking for. I believe a city brings together young, ambitious singles within our faith.”

More BYU students are graduating unmarried, and most are moving to urban city centers. In 2013, 24 percent of students graduated unmarried. These unmarried students are moving to urban centers to be surrounded by people who are in a similar stage of life.

“I’m not married now, but I think once I get married and want to start a family I’ll move to a more suburban neighborhood,” Murri said. “I’ll probably live in a metropolitan area my whole life, but for now, while I’m still single, I’ll stay here in LA.”

Researchers predict that millennials will continue to live in cities until they begin to start families and feel a need to be surrounded by other families. Current trends show that these young families still have a desire to be close to the city and prefer to live near public transportation. The need to move to a suburb is delayed, but many BYU students say they will move once they are married and want a change in scenery.

“If the commute wasn’t too long to work and I had a family, then the suburbs would be an ideal location to live,” said Taylor Stratton, a BYU student moving to Houston. “The lower cost of living in the suburbs and a better environment to raise a family would be great reasons to move out of the city.”

Other BYU students said the motivating factors to move to the suburbs would be getting married, having children, a lower cost of living and a need for more living space. These students predict that they will remain living an urban-city lifestyle for roughly three to five more years until they need to move.

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