So we dug into some Gallup data on what Gen Y wants in cities and here’s what we found:
Jobs are clearly important. Gen Y members ranked the availability of jobs second when asked what would keep them in their current location and fourth in terms of their overall satisfaction with their community ….
[T]he highest-ranked factor was the ability to meet people and make friends. Makes perfect sense, since Gen Y intuitively understands what economic sociologists have documented: Vibrant social networks are key to landing jobs, moving forward in your career, and one’s broader personal happiness. They not only desire a thick labor market but what I have come to call a thick mating market, where they can meet new people, go out on dates, and eventually find a life partner. They recognize what psychologists of happiness have shown. It’s not money per se that makes you happy; it’s doing exciting work and having uplifting personal relationships …
Where older Americans see high-quality schools and safe streets as key, Gen Y understandably ranks the availability of outstanding colleges and universities higher. Many are likely to go back to graduate school, and having great programs nearby is a big plus. When it comes to their overall community satisfaction, access to open space, being in an aesthetically beautiful city, and having access to vibrant nightlife are also quite important; Affordable housing, air and water quality, and availability of religious institutions matter too but slightly less so.
When we look at the factors that affect the likelihood Gen Ys will stay in their current community, the beauty of the place again mattered, along with its climate, the ability to get around easily with little traffic, and affordable housing.
This is important, because Gen Y members are considerably less attached to where they live than other Americans. About a quarter (26.5%) of them said they were extremely satisfied with the place they currently live, compared with nearly half (47.4%) of all Americans. Twentysomethings are on average three or four times more likely to move than forty- or fiftysomethings.