As the first waves of Gen Zers are reaching adulthood, they seem to be determined to forge their own path – including when it comes to where they choose to live. States like Florida and Texas are attracting and retaining the highest volumes of domestic migration.

However, when analyzing the same numbers through the generational lens, a host of different states are popping up as preferred destinations for Gen Zers. In fact, some states that, overall, register net losses, in terms of state-to-state migration, are still managing to attract and retain a positive flow of Gen Zers.

Pennsylvania and D.C., despite a net migration loss, are still big hits with young professionals looking to kick off their careers, joining Southern hotspots in attracting Gen Z. Interestingly, it’s Connecticut that’s really pulling in the Gen Z crowd, netting over 15,000 more members of this generation than it has lost.

Check out the top 10 states where Gen Z is heading and see what's drawing them in:

1. Connecticut

  • Gen Z net migration: 15K
View of Stamford, Connecticut
Stamford, Connecticut

Connecticut is a recent success story in terms of domestic migration, with the state seeing over 67K net incomers in 2022, almost fifteen times more compared to the previous year. And, even more interesting, a significant part of them, a little over 15K, are Gen Zers. This number represents a whopping 23% of the state’s total Gen Z population and turns Connecticut into the best state for attracting and retaining them. Connecticut has plenty of appeal for young people, such as its reputable higher education institutions and its proximity to major job markets, including New York City.

The state itself has a burgeoning technology sector, especially in industries like bioscience and information technology. Gen Z, known for its tech-savvy nature, might be attracted to areas fostering innovation and providing opportunities in these fields. More than that, Connecticut boasts a high quality of life with picturesque landscapes, historic towns and a diverse cultural scene. For Gen Z individuals seeking a balance between urban amenities and suburban tranquility, Connecticut's offerings may align with their lifestyle preferences. Very impressively, despite their young age, 20% of the Gen Zers relocating to Connecticut became homeowners during their first year in the state.

2. Washington, D.C.

  • Gen Z net migration: 13K

D.C. is actually losing residents from state-to-state moving, registering a net negative migration of almost 7,500 people in 2022 alone. However, through all that, D.C. still managed to increase its share of Gen Zers, with a net gain of 13K young people. Gen Zers are, obviously, attracted by the career and personal development opportunities that D.C. has to offer, as well as its diversity and cultural scene. Let’s not forget that D.C. serves as the nation’s center for political activism and advocacy. Gen Z, characterized by a strong sense of social responsibility, may be attracted to the opportunities to engage in meaningful social and political initiatives.

3. North Carolina

  • Gen Z net migration: 11K

North Carolina is one of the country’s best states for net migration overall, and a place that attracts plenty of young people. The state’s GenZ population increased by over 11K persons in 2022, banking on an affordable cost of living, numerous opportunities for postgraduate education and access to a dynamic job market. The Research Triangle Park, anchored by institutions like Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, fosters innovation and research, while the state’s increasingly more dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially in technology and innovation, act as massive draws for the Gen Zers.

4. Texas

  • Gen Z net migration: 10K
View of Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas

Texas is another of the big winners of the past few years’ state-to-state migration trends, and it did not disappoint in 2022, having attracted a net influx of over 171K people. A little over 10K of them are Gen Zers who decided to make the Lone Star State their new home. With Texas being a highly entrepreneurial (and no income tax) state, Generation Z individuals with aspirations for entrepreneurship may be drawn to Texas's opportunities. Also, Texas generally offers a more affordable cost of living compared to many other states. This includes housing affordability, which is particularly attractive to Generation Z individuals who may prioritize financial considerations. Thus, almost of quarter of the 10K Gen Zers that chose Texas as their new home managed to purchase a home during their first year in the state.

5. Pennsylvania

  • Gen Z net migration: 10K

If the previous two states are gaining plenty of new residents, Pennsylvania is experiencing population loss from domestic migration. However, the state proves to be particularly attractive for Gen Zers. In fact, they’re the only generation registering a net influx of newcomers to the state, and a pretty significant one at that: a little over 10K persons.

The geographical advantage might be one reason: Pennsylvania is situated in close proximity to major cities on the East Coast, making it accessible to cultural and economic hubs like New York City and Washington, D.C., without the high living costs. Pennsylvania is also home to prestigious universities and colleges, including the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State University, so Gen Zers looking into postgraduate studies will naturally be interested in relocating here.

6. Utah

  • Gen Z net migration: 9.4K

Outdoor activities hotspot Utah managed to register a net influx of 9,400 Gen Zers, making them the only generation that actively moves to the state and manages to increase its ranks. Generation Z, often seeking adventures and experiences, may be drawn to Utah's opportunities for hiking, skiing and other such sports. Also, Utah consistently sees very low unemployment rates and a stable job market can act as a very convincing argument for young people who are just starting their professional lives. Despite a pretty competitive housing market, about 16% of the Gen Zers bought a home in Utah pretty much as soon as they relocated there.

7. Colorado

  • Gen Z net migration: 9.3K
View of Denver, CO
Denver, Colorado

Colorado is ranking high nationally in attracting and retaining Gen Zers, even if, overall, it is confronted with population loss due to domestic migration. The state has many characteristics that might attract young residents: same as Utah, it’s a world-famous hub for outdoor activities and sports and has a growing and diversified economy providing a strong job market. Also, Colorado is often associated with progressive values, including a focus on sustainability and social responsibility. Social conscious Generation Z will feel right at home due to the state's commitment to environmental initiatives and social causes. And they seem pretty keen on putting down roots, with 17% of them purchasing a home during their first year in the state.

8. Arizona

  • Gen Z net migration: 9.2K

The Mountain West area seems to be of particular interest for Gen Zers, with Arizona, the third state in this region, making it to the top 10 of the country’s most attractive ones for Gen Zers. Arizona has been growing rapidly for a good while now, both economically and in terms of population, so it’s only natural that it’s one of the Gen Zers' favorite destinations.

From natural attractions and cultural diversity to a booming local economy, Arizona checks some boxes that are usually important for young people. Also, while it varies across the state, certain areas in Arizona offer a relatively affordable cost of living compared to nearby states such as California, an important factor for Generation Z individuals.

9. North Dakota

  • Gen Z net migration: 9.2K

Known for its friendly residents, low crime rates and strong sense of community, North Dakota is attracting a significant amount of young people. The net gain of 9,200 Gen Zers in 2022 actually represents over 12% of the state’s total population belonging to this generation.

With its rural charm, affordable housing (about 11% of Gen Zers became homeowners as soon as they moved here) and low cost of living, North Dakota can make an ideal destination for Gen Zers working remotely. This generation has already made waves with their interest in sustainable living and things like growing your own food – so the Peace Garden State is right up their alley.

10. Alabama

  • Gen Z net migration: 9.1K

Alabama rounds up the top 10 states that are best equipped to attract the digitally native generation – and its success is down to affordable housing and a growing economy anchored by industries such as aerospace, manufacturing and technology. A consistent 13% of the Gen Zers who relocated here managed to buy their own home right from the start.

On top of that, it offers diverse landscapes, including beaches along the Gulf Coast, mountains and gorgeous natural parks. Gen Zers with an artistic streak might also find the state's music and arts offerings appealing, from its rich musical heritage in genres like jazz, blues and country to the vibrant urban art scene in cities like Birmingham.

Best States for Gen Z Homeownership: New Jersey, and Maine Top the States Where Gen Zers Buy a Home Right Off the Bat

Gaining homeownership status can be challenging for younger generations, due to a low inventory of starter homes, high mortgage rates and inflation. However, some states seem to be well equipped when it comes to allowing newly moved Gen Zers to climb the property ladder.

Our analysis shows that New Jersey and Maine, both on the East Coast, are the top states where Gen Zers often buy a home within their first year of residence. In 2022, nearly a third of Gen Zers who moved to these states snapped up homes within their first year — making them hotspots for young newcomers looking to settle down quickly.

In New Jersey’s case, although the home prices are well above the national value, the proximity to well-paying jobs located in NYC and its surroundings act as a catalyst for young professionals being able to purchase a home. In Maine’s case, the still-affordable local real estate market makes it possible for Gen Z transplants to explore the homeownership avenue with relative ease.

Other states where purchasing a home as a young person seems to be feasible, even if you have only just relocated, include Alaska, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Gen Zers on the move might need self storage to make their relocation easier

About 12% of Gen Zers are using self storage, according to a recent StorageCafe survey, which is quite a hefty share, considering that many of them are just dipping their toes into adulthood. However, this number suggests that the mobile and adventurous nature of Gen Z often leads them to situations where self storage becomes a practical necessity, such as during relocations to new places. But how well are the country’s top 10 magnet states for Gen Zers equipped to satisfy their self storage needs upon moving?

Renting a self storage unit in Connecticut, the top destination for Gen Z members, hovers around $131 per month, while the same type of storage unit in D.C. is a little bit more expensive, at $152 per month. On the other hand, the Gen Zers relocating to Alabama will benefit from more affordable self storage rates, with the monthly price for a standard 10’x10’ unit in Alabama at only $86.

Below, you can check out self storage prices and availability in the most popular states for Gen Zers.

Self Storage Supply and Rates in the Most Popular States for Gen Z

RankStateSelf Storage Availability (sq. ft./capita)Self Storage Street Rate (10x10 NCC) Self Storage Price/Sq. Ft.
1Connecticut5.29 $131 $1.24
2District Of Columbia2.16 $152 $1.71
3North Carolina9.69 $96 $0.92
4Texas10.84 $96 $0.93
5Pennsylvania4.84 $118 $1.09
6Utah10.19 $109 $1.02
7Colorado8.41 $120 $1.10
8Arizona8.65 $114 $1.08
9North DakotaNo dataNo dataNo data
10Alabama11.03 $86 $0.84
StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data (April 2024)

As Gen Z navigate the early stages of their adult lives, including relocation, certain states emerge as particularly attractive destinations. From career opportunities in places like Connecticut or D.C. to the affordability and quality of life in states like Texas and Colorado, each state offers unique draws for the next generation. Whether drawn by economic prospects, cultural vibrancy, or natural beauty, Gen Z's choices in relocation reflect a diverse set of priorities and aspirations.

Here's how each of the 50 states fare in terms of net Gen Z migration, and the main factors influencing migration trends:

Methodology

This analysis was conducted by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.

In this report, we ranked all the US states — plus the District of Columbia — based on the net migration of Gen Z generation, calculated as the total number of move-ins to a place minus the total number of departures from that same place.

The migration numbers, demographic characteristics of the people moving across the country, home values, and homeownership rates come from the US Census.

We used data regarding self storage rent prices and availability from Yardi Matrix, StorageCafe's sister division and a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self storage sectors.

Fair Use and Distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.

Author

Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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