Where do young people want to live now? It’s not just a barroom conversation-starter kind of question. It’s one of those difficult-to-gauge metrics– a product of some kind of instinctual mass consciousness– that will shape future economic booms and busts and cultural trends.
That’s what led the Wall Street Journal to ask some relative experts on the topic, at least to the extent that there are such things. Denver ranked number seven on the Top Ten list of “Next Hot Cities,” tied with Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and ahead of Dallas, Chicago and Boston. Washington D.C. and Seattle tied for first place.
Where young adults settle is no small thing. People 18 to 29 are the most mobile age group, and their past migration patterns have defined the future of regions, from the long rural exodus of the 1900s to the Silicon Valley boom of the 1990s. Youth-magnet cities gain an enviable cultural allure and a labor-market edge.
The young are likely to be more restless than usual when the recovery comes. The recession has brought migration to a grinding halt: Fewer people moved across state lines in 2008 than at any time since 1950, when the population was smaller by half, says William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit Washington research organization.
The “Hot City” read on Denver:
Topline: After losing much of its luster in the last recession, Denver may be poised for a comeback.
A center of high-tech, computer-systems design and telecom employment, Denver also offers natural beauty and access to outdoor sports. Its housing prices never rose as much as those in many other metro areas, and remain relatively low now. Unemployment has stayed fairly low as well, at 8.6%. With top-notch skiing, cycling and other outdoor recreation, the region is luring more migrants, especially from Southern California.
Downside: Some panelists say the region’s vitality springs partly from neighboring Boulder, and other Western locales, such as Salt Lake City, may eclipse Denver in the future.
1. Washington DC
1. Seattle (tie)
3. New York
4. Portland, Ore.
6. San Jose
7. Durham, N.C. (tie)
10. Boston (tie)