Where are Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers headed? The top housing markets by generation

Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor

Generation gap

It’s not just age that separates the nation’s biggest generations. According to recent data from Realtor.com, it’s also preferences in housing markets.

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Where Millennials are moving

Realtor.com recently studied U.S. Census Bureau migration data, Realtor.com searches and page views, and changes in homeownership rates to determine the most popular housing markets by generation.

According to the study, Millennials are largely flocking to tech hubs and places with lots of culture – cities where they can “make good money and still have a good time.”

Home buying trends: Millennials are more conventional than you might think

Top spots for Millennials include San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Dallas and Washington, D.C. And though the median cost of a San Francisco home is $846K, they don’t seem deterred by the prices.

According to Jason Dorsey of the Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials are prioritizing lifestyle and amenities over costs and practicality.

“Millennials are saying, ‘We are willing to move for lifestyle and job,’ as opposed to, ‘I need to stay close to home because it’s safer and lower cost,’ as previous generations may have,” Dorsey said. “If communities position themselves correctly, and have the type of lifestyle they want, they absolutely can be a top choice for the future.”

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Gen Xers, Boomers stake their claim

Generation X buyers are still reeling from the Great Recession and are focused on finding a great deal. They want areas where they can make big incomes and buy equally big houses – without going broke doing so.

Five of the top 10 spots for Gen Xers are in Texas, including Houston, Dallas, Austin, Odessa and San Antonio. Other Southern cities like Miami, Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina are also big amongst Generation X buyers.

Selling a home: Meet Gen X and Gen Y

According to Chris Porter, chief demographer at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, Texas’ warm weather and business-friendly economy are likely top reasons for its popularity.

“Generation X is looking for housing affordability, where they can meet the needs of growing families,” Porter said. “Texas has been one of the fastest-growing regions in the country for a while.”

Baby Boomers – mostly retired, empty nesters by this point – are looking more toward the Sun Belt – warm spots where they can live amongst their own. In fact, six of the 10 hottest Boomer markets are in Florida.

Still, Phoenix claimed the top spot for Baby Boomers. The city offers lots of golf courses, a wide array of older adult communities and fairly affordable housing prices.

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