I’m fairly flabbergasted by this article in Bloomberg about how Millenials are not moving as much as other generations did – the author and his sources seem confounded by the question of why this is so. It’s no mystery to me – nor to anyone who doesn’t have a substantial source of money. The article goes on to mention that no generation is moving around as much as they used to but singles out Millennials as a cohort (25-35) that is moving around less than Gen X, Baby Boomers, or others did. This is not a generational issue.
It’s an issue of expense and access. Moving is a lot more expensive than it used to be. Landlords are a lot more picky about who they rent to than they used to be. Costs are through the roof. And then there is the paperwork and the b.s. of utilities and deposits. You can’t just throw all your shit in some cardboard boxes, load them in the back of an old station wagon, and drive off for a new life any longer. Those days are gone. When you arrive you are going to be living in that station wagon if you haven’t already made arrangements.
Landlords are looking for first, last, and deposit. Water deposits tend to be a few hundred dollars. Electric deposits are a few hundred more. Many landlords are requiring renters insurance which will set you back more. Don’t forget internet (but you can forget about cable and phone). In the 90s I moved across country in my car in the middle of winter and found a room for $250 a month – you aren’t going to find that in any city with job opportunities today. Want to rent a house? Got $8000 in your pocket to cover all those costs? (more if you are in a desirable city). But maybe an apartment will do? You are still going to need $3-$4000. And you have to have good credit, and you need references, and you need to have a job or provable income. Access to move-about housing has dried up. It could have something to do with the fact that landlords would rather rent to AirBnB guests for 10-20 times the rent they will get from a person that just moved to town, or maybe they just like the tax write off of having a property sitting vacant and not earning anything.
So, the reason people aren’t moving as much (millennials nor anyone else)is pretty simple – there is no such thing as a budget move to a desirable location any more. Those days are dead. The world that the baby-boomers built has swallowed up opportunity for anyone who wasn’t old enough and privileged enough to take advantage of it before they started shuttering the doors and locking opportunity inside where no one can get to it.