The aging tourist slogan for the Commonwealth of Virginia may be "Virginia Is For Lovers," but the reality is the state is home to two of the most popular markets for millennials who choose to live alone.
More millennials, as a percentage of total, live alone in Richmond, Va. than in any other major U.S. metro, according to Zillow, the Seattle-based Internet of all things real estate. In that city, 15% of millennials live alone. Four spots down the list at number five is Virginia Beach, Va., with 13.9% of millennials choosing solitary living arrangements.
Across the U.S., almost 9% of millennials live alone, according to Zillow. That number has been declining since 2005, which the company says is "likely due to unaffordable rents and rising home prices." Hence the historically unusual percentage of young people still living at home: The percentage of 23-34 year olds living with family increased 46% between 2000 and 2013, according to a recent Zillow analysis. Similarly, 21% of millennials are still living at home with their moms, proving that living with friends or family may be one of the ways to afford housing in some of the nation's hottest markets.
There are, however, still places across the U.S. where millennials are living independently. Richmond's strong labor market - employment is up almost 4% during the past year - and relatively high incomes among millennials help. The median yearly income among millennials in Richmond is $49,500, which allows them to afford to live in 15% or more of all rentals in the area. In Oklahoma City, 13% of millennials live on their own, and with a median income of $40,000 a year, these Okies are able to afford almost 22% of homes.
"With home prices and rents rising as fast as they are, it's a common assumption that young adults in many cases cannot afford to live alone," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "Though that may be true in some markets, there's still a large number of amazing places across the U.S. that are prime for millennials to thrive independently. These are places where young adults can easily find jobs at a competitive salary, and where housing expenses won't eat up the majority of their income, enabling them to save more."