The Most Expensive City For Millennials (Hint: It's Not NYC)

There are countless news stories about millennials and the housing market. Some say millennials are buying homes. Others say we're not. And still others go on and on about our generation's massive student loans, and how we'll never hit the same milestones as our parents. (Our parents didn't want to do things like their parents, so why should we be expected to follow the same path? But let's not lose the topic at hand.)

On Monday, Bloomberg published another discouraging story for would-be millennial homeowners. New research, comprising data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Zillow Group Inc., and Bankrate.com, shows the staggering gap in income of 18-to-34-year-olds versus the cost of a mortgage in the 50 biggest metropolitan areas. Basically, if you're a twentysomething living in San Jose, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, you're probably renting.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, there is an $80,000 disparity between what the average millennial makes and the median cost of a home. "The typical young adult in those cities doesn't even make half of what's needed to afford a home," Victoria Stilwell and Wei Lu write about the high cost of living in California.

Things are slightly less dire in Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Portland, but if you're between 18 and 34 and you're itching to buy a house, it would be a whole lot easier if you moved to Cincinnati, Nashville, or Austin (all lovely places to live, by the way).

Bloomberg also points out that while there's only a $6,550 income gap in New York City, that includes the surrounding suburbs. The median price of a home is $374,350, which might get you a house in Westchester, but will only buy you a studio in Brooklyn. Since 80% of NYC-based millennials live in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, Bloomberg took "the average median home value for those three boroughs ($749,596) and the 2015 estimated earnings for millennials living there ($49,193)" for an affordability gap of a staggering $52,262 (which is still less than San Francisco and San Jose).

The study also doesn't take down payments into account. According to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, 18-to-34-year-olds have a median net worth of $10,400, which is far below the 20% down payment often required to buy a home.

If all this has you feeling like you'll never achieve the so-called American Dream, don't get too discouraged. There are millennials who manage to buy homes in these big urban centers (ahem), and there are also many opportunities for home ownership in smaller cities. Heck, Detroit's even giving them away for free.
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