Larissa Faw | Forbes
Once upon a time, people lived where they grew up or moved specifically for work opportunities. The city choose them rather than the other way around. These days, Millennials curate their moving options as if they are selecting the perfect avocado, weighing the pros and cons of each potential city before settling on a decision. Three in four U.S. Millennials say they are willing to consider moving to a new city, with 19% planning to do so within a year, and 44% within the next five years, according to “Millennial Matter” research.
Increasingly Tampa, Florida is coming out on top, ranking at the number-one city people moved to in 2016, according to Realtor.com. It also ranks as the hottest city for start-ups, according to Fortune, the most pet-friendly, claims RewardExpert and the best overall city in the Southeast, says Money magazine.
Although Florida as a whole has been changing and getting younger in recent years, a confluence of activity, along with a visionary mayor, accessible airport and diverse population, is transforming Tampa into the hippest city in America.
It turns out that Millennials cite less traffic and low crime rate as two major factors that influence their selection of a new city. To that end, Tampa has the lowest violent crime rate compared to other major cities, particularly Dallas and Atlanta.
Millennials seek communities with water and beaches, warm weather, parks, nightlife, lots of activities and events, and culture. They want thriving breweries and a vibrant music scene. Affordability is another key benefit tipping the scales towards Tampa.
Tampa also benefits from both informal and formal mentorship programs from a core group slightly older peers, like Cigar City Brewing, as well as those that are paying it forward like chefs Greg Baker and Ferrell Alvarez who, in turn, are collaborating with other young people.
Either online or offline, Tampa is the city of romance. The area has a plentiful supply of prospective dates. Nearly three quarters (73%) of Millennials are single/never married. In fact, only 21% of Millennials in the entire Tampa metro area are married, compared to 41% in Dallas, 38% in Nashville, 36% in Charlotte, and 30% in Atlanta.
This population influx is led by several Millennial leaders who have returned to their hometowns attracted to the business climate, lifestyle and ability to balance lifestyle with their careers. Although Tampa has a job market, including 19,000 people at the MacDill Air Force Base, an increasing number of Millennials are preferring to embark on their own adventures.
Tampa is small enough where they can actually make a difference, whether it is through politics, business, or philanthropy, say Millennials.
Anthony Derby is one of these boomerang residents. He founded The Brew Bus in 2011 following his graduation from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His love of the beer community had lead the 26-year-old to politics where for the past three years, he has lobbied on behalf of the Brewers Association to all of the U.S. Senators and Congressman including Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, Kathy Castor, and David Jolly to lower excise tax and bring awareness to local Florida and Tampa Bay breweries.
Tampa’s Chon Nguyen is the quintessential Tampreneur having founded three city-based companies, Digital Aspire, AVIT, and 212 Digital which introduced the iPad-app based restaurant platform FusionPrep before his 35th birthday. He abides by the mantra to pay-it-forward by serving as an investor and mentor to aspiring young CEOs.
Thirty-year-old Ali Glisson is overseeing a $3 billion-plus plan to reinvent the 53-acre area around Amalie Arena into an urban, mixed-use waterfront development and what the city hopes will become the first health- and wellness-focused city district. Glisson previously served as the PR director for Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn before becoming VP of marketing and communications for Strategic Property Partners (SPP), the real estate firm owned by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment.
Tampa is also embracing Millennials’ preferences for scaling down by becoming one of the first major U.S. cities to develop micro apartments. Urban Core Holdings is converting the top eight floors of a 12-story building into 300-400 square feet micro-apartments. For $850 a month, renters will get a kitchen with a two-burner stove top, refrigerator, dishwasher, a stackable washer-dryer unit, as well as a bike rack and a Murphy bed that transforms into a dining table.
Millennials aren’t just about their careers. They love their downtime. Tampa’s breweries and bars are continuously developing a lot of very interesting pairings to interest Millennials, including “Yoga Pants & Craft Drafts” and the “Running for Brews” club. This summer, Cigar City Brewing’s Ferrell Alvarez and partner Ty Rodriguez are introducing Nebraska Mart, new casual concept aimed at younger crowds. The key selling point to lure their young guests? Shuffleboard courts.
Tampa isn’t perfect. Millennials complain that the community is not a headquarter city (39%), the K-12 public school system could be stronger (36%), and there’s a lack of public transportation (35%).
That said, when asked to name Tampa’s negative, 48% of the local respondents said “none.”