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Gen Z Wants a Simple Life in the Mountains. Here’s Why!

By Orgesta Tolaj


28 November 2023

gen z want simple life

© Intricate Explorer / Unsplash

This marks yet another situation where Gen Z is surprising us. The latest curveball they are throwing is their housing choices. Unlike the millennial city lovels, Gen Zers are ditching the urban jungle for the wide-open spaces of states like the Dakotas, Idaho, and Kansas. However, there is more to it than just the scenery. Gen Z wants a simple life by chasing affordable living and job scenes in places you might not expect.

Gen Z Prefer Simple Life in the Mountains

Members of Gen Z are increasingly relocating to sparsely populated western states, indicating a shift in priorities compared to millennials. According to an analysis of Census data by StorageCafe, the Dakotas, Idaho, Iowa, and Kansas are the most popular states among Gen Z movers on a per capita basis. In 2021, South Dakota attracted the highest number of Gen Z migrants, with 20,703 individuals aged 18-23, constituting 16 percent of the state’s total move-ins.

© Pamela Huber / Unsplash

Gen Z is showing a preference for simpler living in their housing choices, according to Emilia Mann, a senior analyst at StorageCafe. In contrast to millennials, who often choose states like DC, Washington, and Illinois, Gen Z tends to favor areas with lower population density, ranging from the mountainous terrains of Montana and Idaho to the plains of Kansas and Nebraska.

Millennials Chose Cities, Gen Z Wants Simple Life

Millennials, now in their 30s and early 40s, were notably drawn to the vibrant allure of large cities, shaped by popular sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex and the City that depicted urban living as the epitome of young adulthood. However, Generation Z, currently aged between 11 and 26, seems to be charting a different course in their housing preferences, showing a distinct inclination towards wide open spaces and a more economically feasible cost of living.

Born between 1997 and 2012, Generation Z accounted for approximately 8 percent of the US adult population in 2021, according to a analysis of Census data. Despite this relatively modest share, certain Western states witnessed a disproportionate influx of Gen Z members among new move-ins. For instance, in South Dakota, they constituted a substantial 16 percent of newcomers, doubling their overall population share. North Dakota and Idaho closely followed suit, with 15 percent of all newcomers in 2021 falling within the 18 to 23 age range.

Why Does Gen Z Want a Quiet, Simple Life?

In less-populated states, though the absolute numbers of Gen Z newcomers may be smaller, their proportion within the total incoming population holds significance, as emphasized by Emilia Mann in remarks to These states, such as the Dakotas and Idaho, are attractive not only for their natural beauty but also for robust economies anchored in energy production, manufacturing, and technology. Large employers in these states include Sanford Health in South Dakota and MDU Resources in North Dakota. Idaho stands out with the headquarters of three Fortune 500 companies: Albertsons, Micron Technology, and Boise Cascade.

© Michael Bowman / Unsplash

States with smaller shares of Gen Z newcomers include New Jersey (3 percent), Hawaii (5 percent), and Maryland (6 percent), known for their relatively high cost of living. Conversely, the three most populous states—Texas, California, and Florida—saw the highest absolute numbers of Gen Z newcomers, with Ohio, ranking seventh by population, securing the fourth spot in total Gen Z newcomers at 151,359.

Ohio Is the Number One Choice

Despite its lower total population ranking, Ohio stood out at No. 17 per capita for Gen Z movers, constituting 11 percent of all newcomers in 2021. Additionally, Mann highlighted that, beyond the West and Plains, Gen Z members are also drawn to Southern states due to factors such as affordable homes, promising job opportunities, and active lifestyles.

Do you agree with Gen Z wanting to live away from big cities?

You might also want to read: Gen Z Want Less Screen S*x on TV: Enough Is Enough!

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!