In the 16th century, Spanish explorers were obsessed with finding the fabled fountain of youth. Some even died trying. Five hundred years later, those age-defying waters are no closer to being located.
However, there are a few places in America you can go to gain a more energetic and exuberant outlook on life. How do you pull this off? By surrounding yourself with young people, of course—and decamping to one of the youngest metros in America. Think of the fun you’ll have, the slang you’ll learn, the progressive attitudes you’ll be exposed to, the delightful quinoa recipes you’ll learn, the amount of Post Malone you’ll listen to. Well, maybe not that last bit.
We combed through the 2017 metropolitan data from the U.S. Census to come up with the 10 cities with the lowest average resident age, limiting our list to one per state. (Metropolitan areas include the main city and surrounding communities.) The 10 cities we found all boast an average resident age of 30 or younger. Right now, these cities are almost all college towns—with a lone interesting exception.
We dove into each of these metros to survey the housing landscape and understand their youthful appeal. Ready to sip from these 10 fountains of youth?
1. Provo, UT
Average resident age: 24.7 Median home listing price: $305,000 Percentage of renters: 30%
Home to Brigham Young University, the Provo metro area continues to grow at a steady clip. According to a 2017 study from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city has been adding 13,000 residents annually since 2010.
Most of those residents are way on the younger end of the demographic spectrum—as evidenced by the Census data showing the average resident hasn’t even lived a quarter of a century. Yikes!
“There are several contributing factors that keep our average age so young,” says Lewis Barton with Lakeview Realty in Utah. “Leading the way is the two large universities with 40,000-plus students in each: Brigham Young University in Provo and Utah Valley University in Orem.”
Another big factor? “Utahns love kids! New schools are constantly under construction to keep up with the demand,” says Barton.
There are approximately 170,000 households in the metro area. Between BYU and UVU, the student population accounts for about one-fifth of the area’s rental market. In fact, the Provo City Council recently announced a crackdown on landlords who are stuffing their buildings full of students. Overcrowded rentals have become a public nuisance, and the city wants to target “a small group of misbehaving landlords,” according to Barton.
For those looking to leave rentals in their rear view, young home buyers had better study up before attempting to wade in to the real estate market.
“The market is tough to find houses that are close to university that are for sale,” says Provo real estate agent William Stelzer. “The competition is gigantic.”
The area’s natural beauty helps to flip students into residents, he adds. “Outdoor activities are a huge attraction, leading students to stay here. … [There’s] snowboarding, hiking, camping, and boating on the lakes around here. It’s fun.”
Barton adds, “Living in Utah is an absolute blast.”
Average resident age: 26.6 Median home listing price: $195,000 Percentage of renters: 64%
Smack-dab in the center of Oklahoma, Stillwater is also a college town—Oklahoma State University has approximately 25,000 students. The passel of college cowboys and cowgirls helps tilt the average age of residents well under 30.
Stillwater agent Cheryl Carpenter Martin says, “A lot of people stay here, get jobs here, get married, and buy houses. If they can make it work, they will.”
The state is the area’s largest employer by far, with over 6,000 employees.
“Most people are tied to or want to be tied to the university. Graduates want to come back and raise their families here,” says Martin.
Stillwater’s Westwood neighborhood is one of the area’s most desirable with a highly rated elementary school. It’s also close enough to the university to attract student rentals—which raised the hackles of some homeowners. The neighborhood association had to petition the City Council to enforce new rules involving area rental homes.
3 (tie). Jacksonville, NC
Average resident age: 26.7 Median home listing price: $175,000 Percentage of renters: 67%
Four-bedroom home in Jacksonville, NC
This is the only town on our list not tied to a college. So why does the other Jacksonville skew so young? Oorah! Think Camp Lejuene—the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast and home to roughly 47,000 Marines and sailors.
“A huge portion of our community is because of military or contract jobs with the base,” explains local real estate broker Alex Smith.
For residents of this community snugged up next to the Atlantic, there are beaches, parks, and hiking trails where you can take in those ocean breezes and views.
But there isn’t a ton of nightlife for these young folks, Smith says. If service personnel are looking to truly rock out, they’ll have to travel an hour south to Wilmington for live music and more of a party vibe.
3 (tie). Manhattan, KS
Average resident age: 26.7 Median home listing price: $209,900 Percentage of renters: 60%
No, not that Manhattan. Known playfully as “The Little Apple,” this city boasts a population just north of 50,000 and Kansas State University has an enrollment of over 20,000—which explains why this town tilts young.
And for those millennials, we have one suggestion: Make your way to Aggieville! This six-square-block area in Manhattan is the hub for shopping, restaurants, and bars. It’s home to over 100 businesses and serves as a welcome respite for students. It’s also the oldest shopping district in the state.
Dennis Cook, director of the Aggieville Business Association, says the area is amping up in an effort to keep those KSU students in town postgraduation.
“We’re in the design phase of a $30 million redevelopment plan to make Aggieville an eat, play, and stay area,” Cook says. “Higher-density living will be a large part of that.”
If you’ve finished your school days but want to stick around within stumbling distance of Aggieville, there are plenty of homes priced below $200,000—including this six-bedroom home with a ready-made beer pong table. (Seriously.)
Quite a few of the older homes in the area have been bought up and knocked down to make way for multiunit apartment complexes, Cook says.
Other developments to help keep grads in Manhattan are also in progress. The city’s $43 million North Campus Corridor project is slated to finish in 2023 and bring in an additional 5,000 jobs.
The aim is to create a “Silicon Valley for agricultural technology,” Cook says.
5. Ames, IA
Average resident age: 27.3 Median home listing price: $246,000 Percentage of renters: 56%
Three-bedroom home in Ames, IA