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SUMMARY: The Pacific Northwest and adjacent regions are enjoying a large influx of millennials looking to put down roots. The cities to which they flock are teeming with job opportunities, economic growth, natural beauty and progressive ethics.
According to CoreLogic, a real estate information analysis and consulting company, millennials are altering the landscape of the housing market in four distinct ways. First, they are more patient in searching for houses than previous generations. In addition, they desire homes outfitted with the latest technological innovations. Moreover, they seek properties with an eye to conserving energy and sustaining resources. Finally, they prefer an online purchasing experience. Fortunately, the Pacific Northwest hosts many communities that fit the bill in every criteria. In fact, this region hosts some of the most popular cities for millennial homebuyers, the following 10 among them.
Seattle has long attracted those born in the 1980s and ’90s. With very low unemployment rates and large tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon hiring, people early in their productive lives see this as a city of economic opportunity. Additionally, myriad start-up firms are also looking for young talent. Beyond the financial potential, Seattle is surrounded by the natural beauty of Puget Sound and is itself filled with lush green spaces, hence its nickname: “the Emerald City.” To top it off, Seattle reflects progressive social mores and practices prized by this activist and diverse generation.
Many of the same characteristics millennials like about Seattle they also find in Portland. Again, 21st-century jobs abound in this metro area, a hub of new tech-oriented enterprises. Having larger established employers like Precision Castparts, StanCorp Financial Group and Northwest Natural Gas does not hurt either. The city’s ecological bona fides can not be topped: bicycles as primary transports enjoy widespread use and Portland was among the first American cities to ban the use of plastic shopping bags. The area offers more than 180 miles of hiking trails and two large state parks for camping and recreation.
This city sits on the other side of Lake Washington from Seattle. The third largest city in the Evergreen State, Bellevue is home to Paccar, Expedia and T-Mobile. Unemployment is slightly lower than the state average and median wages exceed $77,000. The public schools here are ranked highly in nationwide surveys while the downtown offers diverse cultural experiences from art to music to cuisine. With all of that true, Bellevue still maintains the feel of a small, tight-knit community. It even offers thick woods and accessible trails for millennials who need their fix of flora and fauna.
OK, not strictly Pacific NW, but Denver shares many of the same qualities that attract millennials to locales in Oregon and Washington. In fact, well over half the mortgage applications originated in Denver come from this age group, according to Forbes magazine. Their average age is about 31-years old and their average credit scores hover over 682. This city cultivates start-up entrepreneurs and fosters an atmosphere that encourages networking. Beyond economic promise, Denver is teeming with micro-breweries and nightlife, and is surrounded by some of the most spectacular Rocky Mountain vistas.
Listed among the top 100 Best Places to Live by U.S. News and World Report, Salem is becoming a vibrant mecca for young professionals. From the surrounding vineyards of the Willamette Valley to its historic town center, Salem revels in its status as one of the oldest continuously settled places in the far west. Home to Willamette University, Salem has a college town feel and numerous cultural outlets. With a population of less than half a million, the city enjoys low unemployment, lower home prices, and median adult age of 36-years old.
Again, taking liberties with geography, Rexburg nevertheless is a welcoming, in an ironic way, community for millennials. Founded as a Mormon settlement, Rexburg is home to an LDS Temple as well as the Idaho campus of Brigham Young University. Young adults will like rexburg for what surrounds it: the Wasatch Mountain range, outdoor trails for hiking and biking, lakes for fishing and boating and Yellowstone National Park (within a two-hour drive). Meanwhile, this small city enjoys nearly full employment while projected job growth over the next decade is 44 percent. Rexburg is a promising place to raise children, as well.
Richland sits in the southeast portion of Washington, not far from the banks of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. With Kennewick and Pasco, it comprises the Tri-Cities metro area. Richland offers lakes, trails, golf courses and many other recreational venues for outdoorsy types and nature lovers. Wineries, folk festivals and an array of antique shops hold a special draw for millennials. Home to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland boasts a 4.1 percent unemployment rate. Nearby employers, other than the laboratory, are Bechtel National, ConAgra and Tyson Foods.
In the shadow of the Cascade Mountains sits Bend, Oregon. The employment outlook is good here. Companies hiring range from health care systems, ski resorts, the U.S Forest Service and a brewery, to name a few. Highly affordable and dense with recreational opportunities, Bend is also home to a satellite campus of Oregon State University. The community is extremely safe and schools are well regarded. The population are mostly college graduates who enjoy the many restaurants and cultural activities Bend has to offer. Millennials like the low cost of living that allows them to save for the future.
Situated on Fidalgo Island off Padilla Bay, Anacortes is occupied by two oil refineries and is also the take-off point for tourists going to the San Juan Islands by ferry. Jobs abound in this small city, and in the last decade the near-zero millennial population jumped to 15 percent of residents. Some of that is reflected in the ongoing development of the city. Residences, schools and other public works projects are indicative of a burgeoning population. Between the natural maritime beauty of the surroundings and the responsive local government, Anacortes offers millennials both refuge and opportunity.
Not far from the Oregon state line sits Boise, Idaho. With a population of under a quarter-million, Boise is considered by many the optimal place to live for millennials. Simplot, Micron and Hewlitt-Packard are among the biggest employers here though many small firms abound. Skiing, golf, rafting and hiking are popular pastimes for this young and restless generation living amidst the surrounding foothills. Restaurants and bars are numerous and varied. Meanwhile, the cost of living is quite modest for all this capital city has to offer. In 2018, it was the fastest growing city in the U.S.
Those millennials seeking to relocate to the Pacific Northwest or proximate regions should be proactive about the home search and accompanying financing. Given the tight real estate markets in these cities and many others, preparing to make bids is essential in this competitive environment. A good first step is to connect with a mortgage professional who knows the area and the market. A wise loan officer is an excellent resource for not only arranging a mortgage loan but also knowing the people involved in a purchase transaction.
Since 1992, Sammamish Mortgage has been helping people get mortgages. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Sammamish Mortgage has helped people buy homes in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Colorado.
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