If you’re looking for new renters, follow the jobs. According to Apartments.com’s annual list of the best cities for recent college graduates, a robust job market is the top factor driving the decision to relocate.
“Employers are more confident in the economy today than they were a year ago, and they have begun to shift from cost containment to growth strategies,” explains Tammy Kotula, spokesperson for the Chicago-based Internet listing service (ILS). “Job market trends directly impact the rental housing market.”
Atlanta, which tops this year’s list, has been experiencing population growth for several years, with almost 500 people moving to the metro area daily. A May forecast from Georgia State University estimates the city will create nearly 100,000 jobs in 2011 and 2012. Even Los Angeles, at the No. 10 spot with 12 percent unemployment, shows promise for seekers of green jobs. The U.S. headquarters for Chinese automaker BYD will be built there, creating some 2,000 jobs.
Since many entry-level jobs carry lower salaries, rent affordability is the second-most important consideration. Five cities, including four of the top five, posted average rents well below $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment: Atlanta, Phoenix (No. 2), Denver (No. 3), Dallas (No. 4), and Cincinnati (No. 8). Affordability likely helped Phoenix and Denver rise in the rankings from seventh and eighth place last year, respectively.
Despite their entry-level salaries, 20- to 24-year-olds aren’t willing to scrimp on amenities, putting a premium on proximity to shopping, parks, and nightlife. Developers who can give them that at an affordable price will likely see occupancy rates rise, Kotula says.
And because this demographic grew up online, their worlds revolve around Internet access. “We’re incorporating technology into resident communication, amenities, and marketing,” says Karen Kossow, vice president of sales and marketing for Kettler Management in McLean, Va.
For instance, the company uses its Facebook page to disseminate community news. “Social media is important. They trust their friends, not advertising.”