So, two out of three Millennials would not count out the possibility of buying a tiny home, and almost 40% say "yes" to the notion of owning a less than 600 square foot home.

That data point tells us one of two things. The first might be that millennials, disproportionately, favor very, very cozy quarters. Or, perhaps more likely, a lot of millennials recognize how significantly the financial deck is stacked against their odds of owning a home at all, and tiny might be as much as they're going to get.

Cheryl Russell, editorial director at New Strategist Press, taps analysis from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for a broad-brush assessment of those financial challenges, comparing their situations to the Generation X and Baby Boom era cohorts at the same time in their early adult lives:

  • Their earnings are lower
  • They are less likely to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan
  • They are less likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance
  • They are less likely to be homeowners
  • They are more likely to have student loans
  • They have accumulated less wealth

Other than that, though, their outlook for a prosperous life ahead is peachy.

But, seriously, if you were to contemplate developing a tiny home community--as some of our builder audience members are already doing, you might want to know where educated millennials are choosing to live these days to help with your land acquisition planning.


Well, educational attainment is a pretty close proxy for detecting future home buyers, and when you put more than one adult with a college degree into a household, your odds of homeownership go up meaningfully.

One of the best observers and analysts anywhere on migratory patterns of Americans of any cohort is University of Michigan professor and Brookings Institute fellow William Frey, and Bill's piece here delves into the question, "Where do the most educated millennials live?"

We see two big take-aways in Frey's analysis of how the most well-educated generational cohort ever disperses and clusters across the country's metro areas, and their implications go far beyond planning for new tiny home communities, although there may be opportunity there.

One insight that can be of help to land strategists comes from Frey's heat-map of metros with larger-than-average percentages of millennials with college degrees, ranging from Boston, with 58% of its young adults having graduated from college, to Denver, with 46%. Now, we know that assortative matching trends in America show that college grads tend to gravitate to college grads when it comes to mating and forming households, so the household earnings potential would correlate strongly with "thicker" populations of people with college degrees.

Frey writes:

At the top of the list is Boston, in which nearly three out of five millennials (58 percent) are college graduates. At the other end of the spectrum is Bakersfield, Calif., where college graduates comprise 14 percent of millennials. Areas with high college graduate percentages include Madison, San Jose, San Francisco, Washington, Hartford, New York, Raleigh, Minneapolis- St. Paul, and Denver In each of these cities, more than 45 percent of millennials graduated from college.

Frey's analysis gets really interesting when he cross-tabs his most-educated metros heat-map with the list of 20 finalists Amazon has identified in its HQ2 beauty pageant. Eliminating Toronto because it's not helping to "make America great again," Frey notes a strong tie between metro areas with greater shares of college graduates among young adults, and 16 of the Amazon HQ2 final 20 list. He writes:

When juxtaposed against the millennial education rankings of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, there is some, but not complete, clustering of the HQ2 finalists in areas with the most educated millennials. Boston, ranked first on millennial education, along with four others in the top 10 (Washington, D.C., New York, Raleigh, and Denver) are HQ2 finalists. In fact, 11 of the 20 best-educated millennial areas were chosen by Amazon, and all but three are in the top 40. The metropolitan areas with the lowest millennial college graduate percentages, selected by Amazon, were Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami, ranked 46th, 47th, and 62nd out of the 100 areas respectively, and maintain average education levels in the 32 to 35 percent range. Clearly, the Amazon finalists are skewed toward places with very high concentrations of college graduate millennials. However, other such places were passed over, presumably in the quest for different qualities.

Well-educated millennials are what Amazon's looking for, and they're who other well-educated millennials are looking for, and they should be who you're looking for, whether you're developing tiny home communites, or, with apologies to architect and author Sarah Susanka, not-so-tiny ones.