What “Affordability” Means to Millennials

September 24, 2018

by Rob Roper

An interesting article from CNBC discusses why millennials are buying homes and settling down in several Midwestern towns in places like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. The answer isn’t really a shocker – it’s cheap. As the article says, “The overwhelming driver of the millennial shift to the region is affordability.” Vermonters are familiar with that word! These are places where you can get a three bedroom house for between $39,000 and $127,000, and I bet the property taxes are pretty reasonable as well.

Note, it’s not subsidized childcare, or state-run healthcare, or some other “unique” government benefit that is motivating young adults to choose these places, it’s the ability to buy a house or rent an apartment and meet a budget on their own and with very little money. What else is motivation these young citizens? “Rather than just home ownership, ‘it is about having roots and contributing to the revival of a place that needs businesses that create jobs and create value.’” Sounds like Vermont, no?

This is the real-world definition of “affordability”, and it works. I wrote about this in an op-ed over the summer: “Lesson: if you want to attract a lot of young workers to our state, make Vermont a cheap place to put down roots, and leave people alone to pursue their ventures and create wealth – and keep it — free from a lot of official interference.”

The article also refers to the fact that many people are now working virtually due to the high cost of living in and around major cities. Although many would prefer to be embedded in an urban environment, if that is cost prohibitive, these young adults are willing to help create their own vibrant neighborhoods outside the financial blast zones of places like San Francisco, Chicago, and Cleveland. So, it might be worth mentioning that Vermont is not that far from Boston, New York, and Montreal.

But first, we have to genuinely make the state affordable. Lower housing costs. Lower the overall cost of living. Lower the tax burden. And, make it easier to create businesses, jobs and value. It’s not “if we build it, they will come.” It’s “If we LET THEM build it, they will come.” And, I’d bet a lot of those who are currently leaving might stay, too.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Philip September 24, 2018 at 8:41 pm

You are correct. The recent promotions for Rutland show bike paths, a quaint downtown, etc. but not what would cause young people who work in cyberspace or want to start a physical business. The images should be on a one bedroom apartment for 1.4 million and how you could live in Vermont for a fraction of that or what you could get for that number. Air quality, water quality – living space. That’s what would turn the heads of city dwellers. And yes, because of little industry all Vermont has is real estate taxed to pay the bills and they are proportional to San Francisco rates.

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Deanne September 29, 2018 at 12:02 am

Although my family roots are in Vermont, when we moved back to this area (land-hunting in 1998-2000), we chose to jump the river due to the apparent move in Vermont toward bigger government and more redistribution of finances. The issue at that time was Act 60. I was planning to homeschool and as I was investing my own money and time (and my life) for my own child’s education, I didn’t think I should be forced to subsidize “public” education as well. Moving to New Hampshire did not solve the forcible funding of “public” education, but it did get us out of income tax and sales tax.

I had been required to collect sales tax in my previous state of residence, and despised it because of what I learned. At least there, half of the tax collected was for the tax collector. I didn’t want money that was taken by force by a government I felt was corrupt, to pay for “services” I did not want, and never wanted to be in a position of being required to be a tax collector ever again.

Just this summer, I have gotten to know two couples who have moved from Vermont to New Hampshire. Knowing that people looking for freebies are moving TO Vermont, I wondered why. Both of them said the taxes were too high and they just couldn’t stay. One couple had a 1/5 acre lot with a house in a Vermont border town. They now have 7 acres, a large house and a large barn in a New Hampshire border town, just across the river, and pay about the same in taxes as they did in Vermont. It would be an understatement to say they are pleased with their trade.

I don’t know who the people are that have taken over Vermont, but it is not the same place my grandparents and great grandparents grew up in. Sad. . .

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John September 30, 2018 at 4:06 pm

It’s not “if we build it, they will come.” It’s “If we LET THEM build it, they will come.”First capitalism needs to regain control of the socialist.Then,once in control how much of the socialist power are you willing to give back to the people.Don’t forget,we are all human and all desire power and are greedy too.

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