Survey: Phoenix Is the Fourth-Most Desirable City for Millennials – Even If It's Not So Much Fun

This millennial couple wouldn't agree that Phoenix isn't a fun place to live.
This millennial couple wouldn't agree that Phoenix isn't a fun place to live. Benjamin Leatherman

Like it or not, Phoenix is the fourth-most desirable market in the country for millennials, according to a new survey conducted by Meyers Research, a leading real estate adviser firm.

And we might have ranked even higher if we had a little more fun.

Only three Texas cities ranked ahead of Phoenix – Dallas, Houston, and Austin – for millennial desirability.

“The labor market helped and hurt Phoenix with strong employment opportunities but modest salaries,” according to the Meyers study. “The lower than average millennial wages are partially offset by a favorable cost of living. The fun factor pulled Phoenix lower than Austin.”

Hey, we like to have fun, but not enough, according to a WalletHub survey, which was one of several rankings used to develop the Meyers Millennial Desirability Index.

WalletHub says Phoenix residents have only the 43rd most fun among major cities in the country, below even, ugh, Cleveland and Omaha, Nebraska.

Scottsdale did rank 30th for fun, but the entire region was dragged down by Glendale, which was way down in the dumps at No. 100. Probably you can blame that on the glumness of the city’s No. 1 resident, the Arizona Cardinals.

By comparison, Austin ranked No. 14 for fun. Okay, we’ll give you that. We could use a South by Southwest Festival. Las Vegas, of course, was the No. 1 fun place in the U.S., which is probably why so many Phoenix millennials visit there.

The index factors also include job growth and total employment (Bureau of Labor Statistics), cost of living (Numbeo), wage potential (U.S. Census Bureau), quality of life (U.S. News and World Report) and affordable housing availability (Zonda by Meyers Research). Orlando, Florida; Denver; Washington, D.C.; Raleigh, North Carolina; Seattle; and Nashville, Tennessee, rounded out the top 10 cities on the desirability index.

The U.S. News and World Report ranked Phoenix 19th for overall quality of life, regardless of age, with Austin finishing as No. 1.

The Meyers Index defined millennials as people born between 1980 and 2000, roughly between 18 and 39 years old.

Affordability is almost always a plus for Phoenix in these surveys, but that could be changing as we become more desirable. Housing prices have risen 45 percent in recent years and apartment rents here have seen the biggest increase in the country, according to a recent Arizona Republic story.

And that could be important to retaining millennials, according to the Meyers study, because 70 percent of the younger ones (ages 18-24) say they have seriously considered moving out of their current city.

Then, again, if we don't want so many millennials hanging around and whining, let's keep those prices rising.
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Stuart Warner was the editor of New Times from 2017 to 2019. He has been a journalist since the stoned ages of 1969, playing a major role on teams that won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is also the author of the biography JOCK: A Coach's Story.