The best jobs are expensive.

I keep getting the feeling that it’s tough to be a Millennial.  The latest example I’ve run across is this unenviable choice:  affordable housing or great job opportunities.

grand home

An article in a recent Atlantic, Why It’s So Hard for Millennials to Find a Place to Live and Work, tells us what I think many of us already knew:  “cities with the least affordable housing often have the best social mobility”–in other words, they offer a young person the most opportunities for advancement–and “cities with the worst social mobility often have the most affordable housing”.

It makes sense.  Not only do great job opportunities pay handsomely, injecting more money into the local real estate market, but people driven to achieve will bid up prices in order to reach their goals.  And people driven to achieve are not reluctant to compete, in school, in the workforce or in the housing market.

But ultra-affordable cities like Dayton OH are just as essential as ultra-unaffordable cities like San Francisco and San Jose.  Not only do the Daytons offer cheap starter housing for Millennials, they offer cheap retirement housing for Boomers.

But I wonder how new this trend really is.  Over the past sixteen years I can’t remember the number of times I’ve met people from places like Dayton lured to Silicon Valley by the job offer of a lifetime.  Back home they ‘re living large in a spacious newer house on a big lot in the best neighborhood, and the amount of granite in their kitchen is measured in acre-feet, and what they could get for that showplace house wouldn’t buy them a one-bedroom condo in Palo Alto.

Maybe just this once life isn’t picking on Millennials.  Maybe the affordable-housing-versus-great-job-opportunities dilemma has been around a lot longer than the economists realize.  It’s a challenge, and not just for people who measure their happiness in acre-feet.

copyright © John Fyten 2015

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