Garima Vyas always wanted to live in a big city. She thought of New York, long the destination of over 20s, but was wary of the cost and complicated subway lines.
So Vyas chose another metropolis that is increasingly becoming the best option for young people – Houston.
Now 34, Vyas, a technician, has lived in Houston since 2013. “I knew I didn’t like New York, so it was the right thing to do,” Vyas said. “There are a lot of things you want to try. When you’re younger – you want to try new things. Houston gives you that, whether it’s food, people, or dating. And it’s cheap to. live. “
The choices of Vyas and other Millennials of where to live have reshaped the country’s political geography over the past decade. They left New York and California and settled in places less likely to be TV sitcom locations about city dwellers in their twenties, including Denver, Houston and Orlando, Florida. Attracted by jobs and overlooked by cultural amenities, they helped add new craft breweries, condominiums, and liberal voters to these once again conservative places.
Next week, the US Census Bureau is expected to formally account for this change by releasing its tally of population changes during congressional seat reallocation once a decade. The Sun Belt is expected to gain seats at the expense of the northern states.
Most projections predict that Texas will win three seats, Florida two, and Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon one each. Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and California are expected to lose seats.
Offshoring has reshuffled politics. Once firmly conservative places like Texas have seen the emergence of ever-larger islands of liberalism in their cities, driven by the migration of young, democratically-leaning adults. Since 2010, the population aged 20 to 34 has increased by 24% in San Antonio, 22% in Austin and 19% in Houston, according to an Associated Press analysis of American Community Survey data. In the November election, two states that also saw strong growth in the number of young people in their largest cities – Arizona and Georgia – toppled Democrats in the presidential election.
These demographic winners are almost all in the Sun Belt, but the weather isn’t the only thing they have in common.
“These places are growing not only because they are warmer, but because that is where the jobs are and where the young people are moving there,” said Ryan Wiechelt, professor of geography at the University of Canada. Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
There are other factors of population growth, such as immigration from overseas and childbirth. But as foreign immigration declined over the decade, then plummeted during the pandemic, internal relocations have become an increasingly important factor in how the country is re-sorting itself, demographers say.
Places with jobs have long attracted transplants, but this change has been different because house prices have risen so much in previous employment hubs – Boston, New York and Silicon Valley, for example – that the cost of life has become a bigger factor in offshoring, said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin.
“Since the last housing crisis, millennials have had to move to places where labor markets are really strong,” said Fairweather. “Now, during the pandemic, I think that’s about to change – you don’t have to move to San Francisco if you want a job in tech.”
Many young people are still moving to traditional destinations such as New York and California to start careers, experts say. They are now leaving them relatively quickly, with a greater variety of alternative employment centers to choose from. “Every year these places attract a lot of young people, but they lose more,” William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institute, said of traditional coastal jobs, joking that his own hometown of Washington, DC, “Hires” young people. .
Instead, places with cheaper housing, growing economies, and recreational amenities have become popular. Colorado was the third most popular place for young adults since 2015, with more than 20,000 new young adults from elsewhere each year, according to Frey’s analysis of early census data. The state has exploded over the past decade as its libertarian lifestyle, outdoor attractions, and growing knowledge-based economy have attracted young people from across the country.
As a result, the Denver skyline is regularly punctuated with construction cranes. Apartment complexes arise from parking lots. For when these tenants want to have children and buy homes, waves of new suburban subdivisions emerge in the shadow of the Front Range of the Rockies.
As most transplant graduates have moved to Denver and its satellite communities, Colorado has grown from a strong Republican state to a competitive hub state to a solid Democratic state. It’s a model that some political experts say could be replicated in other states that import tons of young people, even traditionally conservative Texas.
Sydney Kramer is typical of many newcomers to Colorado. The 23-year-old moved to the college town of Boulder in January to begin graduate studies in atmospheric and ocean sciences. She could have stayed in Miami, a natural place for someone of her interests and where she completed her undergraduate education. But Kramer was depressed by Florida’s anti-science turn under Republican state control.
“Government and politics haven’t necessarily caught up yet,” Kramer said of Florida, noting that state regulations prohibited the use of the term “climate change” in some official documents under the previous governor. “Everyone here has a high level of education, is really aware of climate change.”
“This,” she said of Boulder, with its wealth of environmental and forecasting organizations, “is just a really great place for my industry.”
A native of New Jersey who didn’t want to deal with the high rents in New York City, Kramer was impressed with how her new neighbors spoke enthusiastically about hiking, camping and skiing and combining activities. outdoor and urban amenities offered by the area. “It’s a really wonderful place for whatever you get for the cost of living,” she said.