More Than One-Third of Millennial Renters Thinking of Fleeing Cities

More Than One-Third of Millennial Renters Thinking of Fleeing Cities

48% of those planning to relocate cite a pandemic-related reason
Millennials leaving cities

Cities have traditionally had a lot to offer young people looking for high-paying jobs and an active social life, but in the age of the coronavirus, many millennials may be looking to the suburbs instead.

The pandemic has turned life upside down, leaving some experiencing financial challenges and others coping with the need to spend more time at home. To glean insight into how the pandemic is affecting young renters in particular, financial software provider Quicken surveyed millennials in cities across the country.

Not only are some feeling the pain of the pandemic-fueled economic downturn, but a sizable percentage are thinking about giving up on the city altogether.

City life losing appeal

Most millennials surveyed have held put since the pandemic began, with 93% staying in their current city or residence throughout the crisis thus far. However, that may soon change as 37% said they are thinking about moving in the next year. Another 16% said they were uncertain about their future plans, leaving fewer than half — 47% — who plan to stay in their current cities on a long-term basis.

Of those ready to explore greener pastures in the next year:

  • 6% plan to move within the next three months
  • 10% expect to move within six months
  • 5% think they will make a move within nine months
  • 15% expect it to take 12 months

Nearly half of those surveyed who are thinking about moving in the next year — 48% — named the pandemic as a direct or indirect cause.

  • 24% said they can no longer enjoy the social and recreational perks of the city because of COVID-19 restrictions
  • 16% said they don’t have to work in an office anymore so they can live anywhere
  • 15% said they either lost their job or took a pay cut since the pandemic began
  • 14% said they don’t want to use public transportation because of fears of being exposed to COVID-19

There were also some non-pandemic-related reasons given for wanting to move.

For example, 50% cited the high cost of living, 46% expressed a desire for more space, 37% said they want to buy a house and 24% have safety concerns about living in their current city.

Employment concerns abound

One reason millennials may be feeling down about their living situations could be the local job market.

An earlier survey found that renters have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic when it comes to finances. Among those surveyed by Quicken, 37% had received bad news about their job situation as a result of the pandemic:

  • 17% had lost their jobs
  • 10% had been furloughed
  • 10% had experienced a salary reduction

Of those who lost their jobs, only a quarter had already found new employment when the survey was taken.

With less money to work with, some may have experienced hardships when it came to paying the rent. A small proportion — less than 20% — received some rental assistance in light of the pandemic. Among survey respondents, 7% said they had received a temporary discount or credit on rent and 8% said their rent had been deferred for a few months. Another 4% said their rent had been reduced permanently.

Methodology: Quicken surveyed more than 1,000 millennial renters between the ages of 23 to 38 in August 2020. All respondents were renting apartments in urban areas of the United States as of March 1, 2020.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.