Boston Remains a Hotspot for Millennials, But Will They Stick Around?

The nonprofit Boston Foundation has conducted a significant amount of research regarding millennials living in and around Boston. The data is clear: Boston is a popular choice for millennials, with some of its neighborhoods being particularly desirable. Nonetheless, the question remains: will millennials stick around to help with building Boston’s future?

Millennials Represent a Sizeable Percentage of Boston’s Residents

Altogether, 35 percent of Boston residents were between the ages of 20 and 34 in 2015, making it the highest millennial concentration among the 25 largest cities in the country. This is also significantly higher than the nationwide percentage, with 21 percent of the country’s population falling within this age range in 2015. Nearby areas also boast a high concentration of millennials, with 42 percent of Cambridge’s residents falling in this category along with 44 percent of Somerville’s population. When combined, the cumulative millennial population in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville came to a little more than 305,000 people in 2015.

Exploring Popular Boston Areas for Millennials

According to the recent analysis conducted by the Boston Foundation, residents between the ages of 18 and 34 comprise at least 40 percent of the population in six different Boston areas. Fenway/Kenmore is the area with the highest concentration, with 82 percent of residents falling within this age range. Allston/Brighton takes the second place position with 65 percent of its population being within the millennial range. Next is Central Boston with 50 percent being millennials, followed closely by Back Bay/Beacon Hill with 49 percent, South Boston with 43 percent and Jamaica Plain with 41 percent. While some of these areas, such as Fenway/Kenmore and Allsto/Brighton, have long had large collegian populations, the fact that they are among the most affordable areas in the city is likely to be one reason why they seem to attract millennials. Due to the high cost of real estate in the city, however, researchers are not confident that millennials will choose to stick around.

Increasing Numbers

When examining data from 2000 to 2015, the Boston Foundation found that the number of 20- to 34-year-old residents of Boston increased by 15 percent compared to a 10 percent growth of the overall population. In both Somerville and Cambridge, the millennial population grew by nearly 10 percent compared to an overall population growth of 6 percent in Cambridge and a 1 percent population growth in Somerville. The researchers also found that the newer millennials coming to these areas are quite diverse, with African-Americans accounting for 23 percent of Somerville’s millennial growth and 18 percent of Boston’s growth. Meanwhile, Hispanics accounted for 35 percent of the growth in Boston and Cambridge.

The researchers also found that millennials in Boston tend to be well educated. 65 percent of Boston residents between the ages of 25 and 34 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2015. The same was true of 88 percent of millennials in Cambridge and 78 percent in Somerville. Only three other large metropolitan areas in the United States – Washington, D.C., San Jose and San Francisco – outperformed Boston in this regard. Yet, despite their education and relatively high incomes, millennials are struggling with rising housing costs in the area. In fact, a recent survey found that one of the biggest concerns among millennials in the city is “safe and affordable housing.”


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