In the 16th century, Spanish explorers were obsessed with finding the fabled fountain of youth. Some even died trying. Five hundred years later, those age-defying waters are no closer to being located.
However, there are a few places in America you can go to gain a more energetic and exuberant outlook on life. How do you pull this off? By surrounding yourself with young people, of course—and decamping to one of the youngest metros in America. Think of the fun you’ll have, the slang you’ll learn, the progressive attitudes you’ll be exposed to, the delightful quinoa recipes you’ll learn, the amount of Post Malone you’ll listen to. Well, maybe not that last bit.
We combed through the 2017 metropolitan data from the U.S. Census to come up with the 10 cities with the lowest average resident age, limiting our list to one per state. (Metropolitan areas include the main city and surrounding communities.) The 10 cities we found all boast an average resident age of 30 or younger. Right now, these cities are almost all college towns—with a lone interesting exception.
We dove into each of these metros to survey the housing landscape and understand their youthful appeal. Ready to sip from these 10 fountains of youth?
1. Provo, UT
Average resident age: 24.7
Median home listing price: $305,000
Percentage of renters: 30%
Home to Brigham Young University, the Provo metro area continues to grow at a steady clip. According to a 2017 study from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city has been adding 13,000 residents annually since 2010.
Most of those residents are way on the younger end of the demographic spectrum—as evidenced by the Census data showing the average resident hasn’t even lived a quarter of a century. Yikes!
“There are several contributing factors that keep our average age so young,” says Lewis Barton with Lakeview Realty in Utah. “Leading the way is the two large universities with 40,000-plus students in each: Brigham Young University in Provo and Utah Valley University in Orem.”
Another big factor? “Utahns love kids! New schools are constantly under construction to keep up with the demand,” says Barton.
There are approximately 170,000 households in the metro area. Between BYU and UVU, the student population accounts for about one-fifth of the area’s rental market. In fact, the Provo City Council recently announced a crackdown on landlords who are stuffing their buildings full of students. Overcrowded rentals have become a public nuisance, and the city wants to target “a small group of misbehaving landlords,” according to Barton.
For those looking to leave rentals in their rear view, young home buyers had better study up before attempting to wade in to the real estate market.
“The market is tough to find houses that are close to university that are for sale,” says Provo real estate agent William Stelzer. “The competition is gigantic.”
The area’s natural beauty helps to flip students into residents, he adds. “Outdoor activities are a huge attraction, leading students to stay here. … [There’s] snowboarding, hiking, camping, and boating on the lakes around here. It’s fun.”
Barton adds, “Living in Utah is an absolute blast.”
2. Stillwater, OK
Average resident age: 26.6
Median home listing price: $195,000
Percentage of renters: 64%
Smack-dab in the center of Oklahoma, Stillwater is also a college town—Oklahoma State University has approximately 25,000 students. The passel of college cowboys and cowgirls helps tilt the average age of residents well under 30.
Stillwater agent Cheryl Carpenter Martin says, “A lot of people stay here, get jobs here, get married, and buy houses. If they can make it work, they will.”
The state is the area’s largest employer by far, with over 6,000 employees.
“Most people are tied to or want to be tied to the university. Graduates want to come back and raise their families here,” says Martin.
Stillwater’s Westwood neighborhood is one of the area’s most desirable with a highly rated elementary school. It’s also close enough to the university to attract student rentals—which raised the hackles of some homeowners. The neighborhood association had to petition the City Council to enforce new rules involving area rental homes.
3 (tie). Jacksonville, NC
Average resident age: 26.7
Median home listing price: $175,000
Percentage of renters: 67%
Four-bedroom home in Jacksonville, NC
This is the only town on our list not tied to a college. So why does the other Jacksonville skew so young? Oorah! Think Camp Lejuene—the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast and home to roughly 47,000 Marines and sailors.
“A huge portion of our community is because of military or contract jobs with the base,” explains local real estate broker Alex Smith.
For residents of this community snugged up next to the Atlantic, there are beaches, parks, and hiking trails where you can take in those ocean breezes and views.
But there isn’t a ton of nightlife for these young folks, Smith says. If service personnel are looking to truly rock out, they’ll have to travel an hour south to Wilmington for live music and more of a party vibe.
3 (tie). Manhattan, KS
Average resident age: 26.7
Median home listing price: $209,900
Percentage of renters: 60%
No, not that Manhattan. Known playfully as “The Little Apple,” this city boasts a population just north of 50,000 and Kansas State University has an enrollment of over 20,000—which explains why this town tilts young.
And for those millennials, we have one suggestion: Make your way to Aggieville! This six-square-block area in Manhattan is the hub for shopping, restaurants, and bars. It’s home to over 100 businesses and serves as a welcome respite for students. It’s also the oldest shopping district in the state.
Dennis Cook, director of the Aggieville Business Association, says the area is amping up in an effort to keep those KSU students in town postgraduation.
“We’re in the design phase of a $30 million redevelopment plan to make Aggieville an eat, play, and stay area,” Cook says. “Higher-density living will be a large part of that.”
If you’ve finished your school days but want to stick around within stumbling distance of Aggieville, there are plenty of homes priced below $200,000—including this six-bedroom home with a ready-made beer pong table. (Seriously.)
Quite a few of the older homes in the area have been bought up and knocked down to make way for multiunit apartment complexes, Cook says.
Other developments to help keep grads in Manhattan are also in progress. The city’s $43 million North Campus Corridor project is slated to finish in 2023 and bring in an additional 5,000 jobs.
The aim is to create a “Silicon Valley for agricultural technology,” Cook says.
5. Ames, IA
Average resident age: 27.3
Median home listing price: $246,000
Percentage of renters: 56%
Three-bedroom home in Ames, IA
Ames offers young people the opportunity to cavort (and buy homes) in an area known as Campustown. Located just south of Iowa State University, it caters to the 35,000 students on campus and is filled with apartments, restaurants, and bars.
With students making up half the population, “it’s definitely a younger city,” says Ames real estate agent Colin Fett. “People stick around because it’s a cool community.”
Rent prices in the area are refreshingly low: A studio apartment can be had for $450 a month. That said, it can be more economical for first-time home buyers to buy their own place, says Fett.
“In a lot of cases, someone can buy a nicer place to live for a lower cost to renting,” he says.
Best of all for anyone who wants to call Ames home, the town has the lowest unemployment, at 1.5%, in the country. The Washington Post dubbed it the “nation’s hottest job market” last year.
If you’d like to settle down in Central Iowa, you can score a brand-new, three-bedroom home on the city’s western edge for $269,900. For those outgrowing the nightlife of dive bars, downtown Des Moines, with its restaurants and cultural attractions, is just 35 minutes away.
6. College Station, TX
Average resident age: 27.4
Median home listing price: $269,900
Percentage of renters: 50%
Similar to Ames, College Station has a young workforce and a minuscule unemployment rate. While the state of Texas sits at 3.4% unemployment, the rate in this college town in East Texas hovers at just 2.7%.
The enormous campus of Texas A&M is the nation’s second-largest public university and balloons the city’s population with over 60,000 students when class is in session.
Northgate is the neighborhood where students and grads hang out. For grads who’ve landed a steady job in the area and moved past dorm life, apartments are available in The Rise at Northgate, an 18-story building across from campus. But be prepared to pay more than what’s in between the couch cushions—rent is about $1,100 a month.
For entrepreneurial types, there’s an opportunity to become a landlord extraordinaire. A fully renovated 16-unit apartment complex in Northgate within walking distance to campus is on the market for $2.5 million.
Home buyers looking to pay right around the city median price can wind up with a well-kept five-bedroom home on the city’s south side.
Real estate developers see obvious potential in the area as well. In the video below, Oldham Goodman Group CEO Hunter Goodwin touts the area’s location between Texas’ larger cities and intellectual capital as key drivers of future growth.
7. Mount Pleasant, MI
Average resident age: 28.1
Median home listing price: $161,500
Percentage of renters: 61%
Three-bedroom condos near CMU.
This small city is plopped right in the middle of Michigan, which explains why it’s home to Central Michigan University. The home of the Chippewas brings in 20,000 students annually.
Naturally, CMU is a major employer in town, but not the biggest. That honor goes to the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, run by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation. Thanks to the Soaring Eagle, there are also major entertainment acts that come through, including comedians Sebastian Maniscalco and Adam Sandler.
“It’s a small town with some big-town amenities,” says local agent Tricia Boerma.
It’s not unusual for CMU graduates to fall in love with the place and stay, she says. It happened to her.
“I just like the town, the location, the vicinity in Michigan,” she says. “You can get anywhere (in the state), and it’s just a nice place.” Lansing is about an hour away.
It’s a great place to raise kids due to good schools, and first-time home buyers who don’t want to live in the country often purchase near campus. Parents often invest in a home near campus while their kids study at the university, Boerma notes.
Those homes tend to be older. But, Mom and Dad, if you’re looking for a pad for your student, consider a new condo development going up right near CMU. Close to shopping, restaurants, and entertainment, one of the three-bed, three-bath units on the market now for $229,900 allows the buyer to choose finishes, including for the counters, appliances, flooring, and lighting.
8. Athens, OH
Average resident age: 28.9
Median home listing price: $179,000
Percentage of renters: 71%
Athens is a quintessential college town, with the nearly 37,000-strong student population of Ohio University easily overwhelming the 25,000 locals. The university is also the city’s largest employer. It fuels the local economy with restaurants, bars, and shops frequented by students.
“It’s pretty much a company town, and the company is the university,” says broker Liz Maule. Younger buyers are mainly looking on the East Side, where homes are older and are in walking distance to the campus—and, for young families, grade schools too. Home prices range from $180,000 to $250,000 and up.
“It’s a great place to raise kids because it’s very safe, and there are all kinds of sports, theater, and cultural things here,” says Maule.
Young and not-so-young residents alike are attracted to the outdoor activities, from a 22-mile bike trail that runs through town, to hiking, camping, and fishing. There’s even a year-round farmers market.
One caveat: Residents need to prepare to drive to Columbus, the nearest big city, to catch a flight or a major concert.
9. Statesboro, GA
Average resident age: 29.2
Median home listing price: $168,500
Percentage of renters: 75%
Three-bedroom home in Statesboro, GA
For those among the 27,000 students at Georgia Southern University who stick around Statesboro past college age, the town has plenty of other fine attributes. Two years ago, Statesboro was in the top three in the America’s Best Communities competition and was also named one of nine Georgia “live, work, play” cities by the Georgia Municipal Association.
Those looking to invest in a home will find it’s a sweet time to become an owner. A buyer can snag a brand-new, three-bedroom home priced right around the area median for $170,000.
The university is the area’s largest employer, but there are other opportunities for job seekers. In fact, there’s an enormous Walmart distribution center, the chain’s largest.
10. Lafayette, IN
Average resident age: 30
Median home listing price: $209,900
Percentage of renters: 43%
Located about 63 miles from Indianapolis and 100 miles from Chicago, Lafayette is home to Purdue University, which has about 43,000 students. But the university isn’t the only game in town: Private industry also includes Subaru of Indiana Automotive and Wabash National.
Local real estate agent Susan Pounders notes that first-time home buyers are shopping in the range of $135,000 or less, with many looking in more rural areas in the county.
For people connected with the university with school-age kids, West Lafayette is the place to be. Its school system is among the best in the country, Pounders notes.
For those willing to lay out a down payment, a home in Lafayette may make more sense than renting.
“West Lafayette is a great community, but it’s still affordable to other markets,” Pounders says.
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