As Californians rush from the Golden State towards the friendlier U.S. territories – yes, we’ve all heard about the infestation in Texas – millennials from cities such as New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco, are infiltrating the Rust belt.
Yes, the Rust Belt. Where the deindustrialization of manufacturing strongholds decimated the inner cities and pushed gen Xers seeking tech jobs towards Silicon Valley, and laborers scattering to the lower Midwest and south east states.
But millennials, the generation who seeks community and sense of place in the world, are flocking to the abandoned and boarded inner cities of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, in search of a place to plant their roots, outside of their parent’s basement.
The weary and worn metropolises, with their fatigued urban facades, are getting their much-deserved rebirth.
Bygone is Back
The beautiful architecture that dominated the Gilded Age — a time of great prosperity in America – and the affordability of purchasing a hunk of dirt with perhaps a 5,000 square foot Victorian in Cleveland, Mansfield, or Detroit is attractive. But it’s not the only lure.
Peter Haring, president of Haring Realty in Mansfield, Ohio, is almost giddy with his assessment of the flourishing real estate rebound, “We are seeing an intense interest in participating in the revitalization of our towns and being a part of the community. It’s palpable, and it’s exciting.”
What’s even more exciting, if you can imagine, is that buyers are plopping down cold hard cash – forgoing the normal 30-year mortgage – in Detroit.
According to Irvine, California-based housing-research firm ATTOM Data Solutions, in the first half of 2018, 87% of all single-family home and condominium purchasers in the Motor City paid cash – whereas the national average was a mere 28% from coast to coast.
ATTOM Data pointed out that “the median price of a home in the city was just $32,428 in the first six months of 2018 well below the national median of $234,000.
Millennials with college loan debts, and a decent job, can afford Detroit. And Detroit could use an influx of energy and passion to give the grand lady a much-needed transfusion.
Manufacturing and Mobility
Love him or loathe him, President Trump has force fed the necessary economy boosting fuel to the Rust Belt. Almost decimated to the bones, this starving geographical region had been unceremoniously pulled off life support during the Obama era. But it’s coming back – with a renewed and energetic populous.
Another factor for the rush to rust is mobility: Many professionals work remotely. Imagine covering politics in flyover states for a D.C. based news organization.
But an expert, Ralph DiBugnara, senior vice president, Residential Home Funding, is happy to elaborate:
“More and more people are now working virtually, which means they do not need to be in their office and can work from almost anywhere. So why not find somewhere to live where your city dollars can go a lot further?”
Really. Consider that the median home price in New York City is $700,000 and in San Francisco, a whopping $1.3 million – and we aren’t talking the high ceilinged, well built, decorative 5,000 square foot Victorian. Nope. We’re talking a small 800 to 1,500 square foot, poorly constructed box.
If you can move to Ohio, Wisconsin, or Michigan, pay cash and live large, why wouldn’t you?
The economy is strong. Economists have declared for the last few months that anyone who wants a job, can have a job. And it appears the Millennials are taking full advantage of opportunities presented in the booming flyover states, grabbing the brass ring, and imprinting their own brand of substance and style into cities that need a little tender, loving, care.
Bravo, Millennials, bravo.