Sep 16, 2022 - News

Raleigh is one of the most popular cities for Gen Z

Illustration of illuminated windows on the side of a building in the shape of a "Z."
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Raleigh was one of the big winners of the last decade thanks to the tens of thousands of millennials who moved to the Triangle for its jobs and relative affordability.

  • Now, it's also attracting Generation Z, the oldest of which are just turning 26.

Driving the news: Raleigh ranks fifth among the best cities for Gen Zers, according to real estate listing service Commercial Cafe.

Why it matters: Cities that have seen tremendous growth over the last ten years have done so primarily through being a magnet for millennials — the largest generation group in the U.S., whose ages range from 26 to 41.

Yes, but: Unlike their older peers, Gen Z is entering the workforce at a moment when remote work is more available — potentially making them even pickier on where they live.

  • "We're always looking at the future pipeline and asking, 'How are we preparing for tomorrow?'" Kyle Touchstone, director of Raleigh Economic Development told Axios.

Touchstone said he believes outdoor spaces and more entertainment options will remain important for Gen Zers going forward thanks to the pandemic.

  • "I really think that what we've been through [the last 24 months] has created more opportunities for us to elevate outdoor recreation, parks and trails,” he said. But at the same time "these are kids who've had multiple years disrupted in school … so I think we'll see a shift to people who are interested in being together and socializing more."

Details: The Commercial Cafe analysis compared cities by affordability, Gen Z population share, unemployment rate, internet speed, recreational and dining establishments, green commuting options, number of parks and school enrollment.

  • Raleigh stood out primarily due to the number of Gen Zers enrolled at universities like N.C. State and for the city's affordability relative to other cities on the list.
  • It was weakest in green commuting options — a fact that hurts it with a generation that is least likely to own a drivers license.

What they're saying: Minu Lee, a Gen Z grad student at N.C. State running for Raleigh City Council, told Axios his generation cares strongly about the environment and using greener transportation. But Raleigh can be difficult to walk and bicycle and transit options can be frustrating.

  • "Younger generations view dense, walkable neighborhoods as the future, and they’re right in doing so," Lee told Axios.
Here are the top 10 cities for Gen Z:
  1. Atlanta
  2. Minneapolis
  3. Boston
  4. Tucson, Ariz.
  5. Raleigh
  6. Columbus, Ohio
  7. Seattle
  8. Austin, Texas
  9. El Paso
  10. New York
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