New York’s Next Best Neighborhood For Millennials Is…Philly?

If you really take a close look, Philadelphia has everything millennials want—except the cool factor.

By James L. Knobloch October 27, 2016
Copyright: Andrew J Simcox

That’s what some would have you believe. According to a recent study on “The Perfect City for Millennials” by the apartment search website Adobo, it’s a story with two plot lines—one of perception and one of reality.

Related: Top Five: The Cities That Give House Flippers the Biggest Bang for Their Buck

More than 2,000 millennials—born between the years of 1982 (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) and 1998 (Titanic)—were surveyed on topics like what qualities and attributes matter to them in choosing a city to call home. Right off the bat, almost 20 percent of all respondents picked New York City as their city of choice. That’s more than west coast counterparts second-ranked San Francisco (approximately 10.5 percent) and fifth-ranked Los Angeles (approximately 7.5 percent) combined. Seattle and Portland were the other cities to crack the top five at third and fourth, respectively. Clearly, New York City’s cachet is still alive and well among Generation Y.

Photo courtesy of of Journeys and Roots

However, when the numbers are crunched based on criteria responses, the rankings get shaken up. San Francisco and Los Angeles fall out of the top five altogether, and New York, Seattle and Portland end up in a five-way tie for second (along with Boston and Washington, D.C.), meeting 90 percent of the desired qualities. Assuming you read the title of this article, you can probably guess which surprising contender claimed the top spot: Philadelphia at 95 percent.

Philly, which tied for the fourth-to-last spot on the initial rankings, earning less than one percent of respondents, looks good on paper. These rankings were determined based on nine of the most important factors as identified by the millennials surveyed: Job Market, Affordable Rent, Affordable Homes, Educational Institutions, Walkability, LGBTQ Friendliness, Public Transportation, Beach/Water Proximity, and last but not least, the strength of a city’s pizza game, because priorities.

If Philly’s top ranking—checking eight of the nine boxes (sorry, education)—is a surprise, the criteria that New York couldn’t deliver on shouldn’t be: Affordable Rent. It’s certainly not the first time the millennial generation would be accused of not knowing what’s best for them (“but I want to be a YouTube star, dad!”).

What can a 20-something New Yorker ready to give up on the rental rat race and move to Philly look forward to? A lot, according to one such convert Jonathan Wellerstein:

“You get many of the things you get in New York, but for a lot less money,” he said in an interview with Gothamist. “It’s a great eating city, you can see any band that’s going to be playing in New York, but it’s easy to get tickets. It feels like living in Brooklyn in the ’90s when no one would go out and visit you.”

And if you’re tired of living in a New York where you feel like it’s increasingly hard to “make your mark,” Philly’s under the radar popularity might be working to its advantage.

“There’s a sort of energy in Philly that I don’t think has been in New York in a long time,” said Wellerstein. “You’re coming to New York for what it is, but in Philly, you’re shaping it. You’re building a city and a community.”

So, will the realities of getting the most of what they want spur millennials to actually leave “The City of Neighborly Impatience” for “The City of Brotherly Love,” or will perception continue to reign supreme?

Eh, who wants to be forced to support the Eagles anyway.

James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

A creative professional with a sharp tongue and a big smile, taking on city living one slightly-veiled sarcastic comment at a time. Born and raised just outside of New Orleans, James is a living testament to his own mantra, “Southern hospitality is a privilege, not a right,” giving his work a unique, dry humor meets charm perspective.

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