Dallas-Fort Worth continues to be one of the hottest areas for millennial relocation, thanks to an abundance of jobs, a booming economy and a diversified arts & entertainment scene. To examine what’s driving millennial economic trends in North Texas, Hill+Knowlton Strategies hosted a focus group of DFW millennials – both native and recently relocated – alongside the Dallas Business Journal to discuss topics that are critical to them, their employers and the community at large.

Relocation & Culture

What didn’t you know about Dallas that you know now that you’re here?

Amberly Sisneros: I was really surprised at how many tollways there are around here. I had never been on a tollway in my life, and then I got my bill!

Eric Hudson: I had no idea that there were so many quality companies that were here.

Kendall Roden: I grew up in Garland, then moved to Alabama to go to college for four years, and then immediately moved to Charlotte, N.C., for a year before moving back to downtown Dallas. I live on Main Street and there’s a huge issue with homelessness. It’s something the city is investing a lot of money and time in to solve, but it’s not necessarily working. I think there should be more resources dedicated to mental health to help with this.

Nicole Paquette: There’s a lot of opportunity here, but there’s also economic inequity, and it’s good for my generation to have more information about that. Take Collin County for example, where there’s food insecurity. You wouldn’t think that would be the case. Millennials like to rally together to help others. When growth happens, so do the needs of a community.

What was the reaction from family and friends when you moved here?

Lily Kramlich-Taylor: I went to  school on the East Coast and not a lot of my friends even considered Texas as an option, especially given how liberal New York is. What they don’t know is that Dallas is a real city and they’re missing out. When they come to visit, they expect to see people riding around on horses with tumbleweeds in the background, and instead they discover a modern city.

Where to Live

Where do you live: urban core, suburb? And did price play a factor in your decision?

Kendall Roden: I live in downtown Dallas, but I think prices are going up so fast that people my age aren’t going to be able to afford to live there anymore.

Rebecca Yaker: I live in Uptown in an apartment, but I am looking to buy in the next year or two, probably in the North Dallas area. I was surprised by how cheap housing is, and how you can get something big. I’m from Orlando, where everything was old and sinking — and really expensive. I was looking for a particular culture. I wanted a change, and so my husband I were looking at cities that we both could agree on, and Dallas was it!

Sierra Sintic: I always consider the length of time it takes to get from work to home. But I will never leave the downtown proper area; I like it too much. I need parks and the ability to relax – walkability to a green place that is safe. And parking also plays a role, too.

Leah Green: We just bought a home just outside downtown. The process was long. The ball didn’t really start rolling until we found a good Realtor, which is hard to find, honestly. We were surprised with how competitive it was to get a home. The good news is that if there were competing offers, there was always another house to look at. What we found was that a lot of people who are buying homes are actually our age. Our neighbors have become some of our best friends as a result.

Shelby Jackson: Dallas is the most affordable large city in the state. Millennials are skipping the whole idea of a starter home. We’d rather live in an apartment and don’t see paying rent as a loss. We’re saving more money to buy a larger first home. No one’s really catering to us, but we’re a huge market.

Transportation

How do you get around town and the broader Dallas Fort Worth area?

Kendall Roden: DART is a great system, but no one really adopts it (…) People sometimes see it as dangerous, and DART is promising, but I think that’s something that needs more investment from the city, and more people to embrace and believe in it.

Shelby Jackson: I’m not willing to give up all of the great things that come with being located centrally in Dallas. I don’t want to spend two hours on the highway.

Andrew Mitchell: I was really surprised at how spread out everything is here, too. Coming from the East Coast, it’s about an hour’s drive from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., where here it’s an hour’s drive to get anywhere north or south. It’s all built out here, not built up.

Eric Hudson: DFW is one huge, uninterrupted city. There’s not a lot of open space, like you would find with Austin, until you get way out of town. That was a shock for me, and there’s no easy way to get to the country if you want to.

Economic Opportunity

Do you think there is a lot of economic mobility in North Texas?

Shelby Jackson: Definitely. And there’s a misconception about millennials, that we’re not willing to work for X, Y or Z, but that’s definitely not the case. We’re smart purchasers, we save a lot of our money, and we have a lot of options as a result.

Nicole Paquette: We want to make sure there are opportunities to bring everyone along with the rising economic tide. There are a lot of great economic opportunities for people, but not everyone is being afforded those opportunities. We have to remember them.

Originally published on Dallas Business Journal

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