Top Cities for Millennials in the Southwest

by Kimberly Rotter | Published on Aug. 5, 2021

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Woman hiking with dog in a southwest landscape.

Image source: Getty Images

In some spots, millennials can choose both affordability and high quality of life.

Most people want to live in cities with walkable neighborhoods, plenty of culture, good schools, and affordable housing. Millennials are making it happen. This generation consists of people born roughly between 1980 and 2000, and many are seriously considering moving from their current homes to more desirable locations.

These are the top five cities we think are the most millennial-friendly. Below, we'll tell you why.

1. Chula Vista, California

Population: 274,492

Median home value in July 2021: $704,775 (according to Zillow)

Metro area: San Diego

The first thing to know about Chula Vista is that it made our list of the most socially equitable cities in the U.S. About a quarter of its residents are foreign born, and it's certified as an immigrant-friendly Welcoming City by the nonprofit Welcoming America.

Chula Vista is just south of the city of San Diego and just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. You can hop over to Mexico anytime you want. Chula Vista has beautiful, mild weather all year, which means you can also enjoy nearby coastal attractions, like Imperial Beach or the Hotel Del Coronado, both only a few minutes' drive away.

Living in the San Diego metro area means your kids will have access to world-class dance, gymnastics, theater, sports, and other programs. And millennials living in this area can enjoy all the cultural delights of a large city.

2. Martin County, Texas

Population: 5,771

Median home value in July 2021: $206,044 (according to Zillow)

Metro area: Midland

Martin County, Texas, is a rural area outside of Midland. Here, millennials can enjoy the country life while being just a short distance from a city that offers all the modern urban conveniences they might need.

When we checked, about half the properties for sale in Martin County were farming acreage. The other properties, mostly in the town of Stanton, were priced between $150,000 and $450,000, putting it in an affordable range for many millennial home buyers.

One thing we love about Martin County is that it took the No. 1 spot on our list of the top places to live in the U.S. for affordable childcare. Folks who live in Martin County only spend about 12.36% of the area median household income on childcare. That's the lowest percentage of any metro area we studied, and it means that some lower-income earners can afford to get childcare help, too.

3. Phoenix, Arizona

Population: 1,680,992

Median home value in July 2021: $350,077 (according to Zillow)

Metro area: Phoenix/Tempe

Phoenix is another city that claims a spot on our list of the most socially equitable cities in America. Our research shows that Phoenix gives people the opportunity to prosper, participate, and reach their full potential.

Phoenix offers a range of experiences at arm's reach. Urban culture and majestic nature shake hands here. Millennials can mountain bike through rattlesnake country in the morning, visit a world-class golf course in the afternoon, and finish the night at a favorite club. If you're up for a day trip or weekend away, know that Arizona is home to one of the seven wonders of the world -- the Grand Canyon -- plus many other breathtaking natural attractions that you'll want to visit more than once.

On the practical side, living here is convenient. The Phoenix grid is very easy to navigate. If you're coming from an old East Coast city with lots of curving streets or roads that go in odd directions, you'll probably find driving here to be a breeze.

4. Cedar Park, Texas

Population: 79,462

Median home price in July 2021: $489,474 (according to Zillow)

Metro area: Austin

You've probably heard that Austin is a great place to live. The music scene is among America's best. Temperatures are generally warm and great for outdoor activities. And Austinites are known to be friendly. The city is laid out in pockets where each neighborhood and municipality has its own flavor and flair. That's where Cedar Park comes in. It's a suburb of Austin that made our list of the best cities in the South with high salaries and low cost of living.

Zillow reports the median home price for Cedar Park is around $490,000. That's affordable for many couples and families. Millennials can consider moving to Cedar Park to enjoy concerts and sports events at the HEB Center, 1,000 acres of public parks, and some of the best barbeque in the U.S.

5. Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Population: 99,178

Median home value in July 2021: $254,598 (according to Zillow)

Metro area: Albuquerque

Rio Rancho is a suburb of Albuquerque. It's a small town in a big city. Millennials can find urban culture and convenience along with a quieter life and good schools for their kids.

Much of the housing here is newer. There are some older homes, but if you're shopping in Rio Rancho, you'll find a healthy selection of options ranging from new to 20-25 years old. The median home price is far below the national median and very affordable for many families.

Besides the great price, Rio Rancho is in a picturesque location. With an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, Rio Rancho has spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains. You might also wake up one day to see the sky dotted with hundreds of hot air balloons because the area is home to the largest hot air balloon event in the world.

So if you're considering moving and taking out a mortgage in a new city soon, keep these five Southwest locales in mind. Not only can millennials benefit from moving to any of these cities, but the cities will also benefit when millennials bring tax revenue and creativity to town.

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