Young professionals find the right mix in Happy Valley.
The data is in: More Millennials are putting down roots in State College, either sticking around after graduation or moving to the area to pursue career opportunities.
State College ranks as the ninth most popular city for Millennial home ownership, thanks to housing costs, a healthy job market, a good environment to start a business and a quality of life that mixes big-city opportunities with small-town benefits.
Affordable housing market
Despite the “self-indulgent” and “financially irresponsible” reputation tailing Millennials, the vast majority are incredibly conscious of their financial situation. As the cost of buying a home rises each year, the relatively small increase in career compensation leaves many Millennials feeling they have no choice but to rent or move back home in order to economize. In State College, however, they can make it work.
The national median sale price for a single-family home is $269,500, but in State College that price is only $235,550, and some full-sized family homes in vibrant neighborhoods can be as low as $175,000. For Millennials and young business people who don’t mind sharing a wall, duplexes, condos and townhomes are equally affordable options and can be purchased for as low as $179,000.
Thriving business and entrepreneurial hub
After being voted among the top 15 cities for entrepreneurs to live and launch their businesses, it’s no surprise Millennials are moving in. According to a survey in 2014, 70.9 percent of teens are interested in becoming entrepreneurs, but many don’t know where to start finding resources or funding.
In this arena, State College shines, thanks to abundant resources through Penn State and the close proximity to big cities and airports, like Philadelphia, New York City, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. Happy Valley LaunchBox Powered by PNC and the Penn State Small Business Development Center both serve local startups and entrepreneurs.
It isn’t just the many opportunities and resources available to them that keeps entrepreneurs coming to State College. As a small college town, residents of State College experience an intimacy and connection not found in larger metropolises, something that benefits both entrepreneurs and every other citizen.
For Maureen Mulvihill, the community made it easy to create a vibrant community for her consumers. As the president of Actuated Medical, Mulvihill loves the work ethic in Happy Valley. She attributes the culture to the fact that the people in the area love coming to work, and love where they live.
“When you’re happy at home and you’re happy at work, life is good,” she says.
Even for non-entrepreneur Millennials, State College is still the place to be for business. With 3,000-plus jobs available for young professionals, according to Indeed.com, rather than being strapped for new jobs like many small towns, State College offers job opportunities, and thanks to its tight-knit nature, it’s easy to connect with other young, like-minded people. Groups like State College Young Professionals create the perfect environment for Millennials to meet others in their situations and find community and support.
Big-city vibe meets small-town charm
Location is everything. For some Millennials, that means the big cities, like Philly, New York and Chicago. For others that means a quiet suburb with cul-de-sacs and picket fences. For still others, it’s the pure countryside, complete with fishing, hunting and outdoor adventure, and some want a little bit of everything.
Finding the perfect balance is easy in Happy Valley.
With miles of hiking and biking trails and rivers and lakes for fishing and kayaking, it’s ideal for more nature and environmentally-conscious Millennials. For those not drawn to a life on the farm, State College’s historic, perfectly situated suburbs offer proximity to the exciting nightlife downtown, while keeping housing costs manageable.
State College lacks the rush and tense atmosphere of other cities, letting people move at their own pace and find their sweet spot, whether that’s patio-dining at a family-owned restaurant or dancing the night away at a downtown club. To keep things lively, restaurants and bars showcase local bands of all genres during live musical performances, and charttopping singers, musicians and performers always make a stop at the Bryce Jordan Center.
If there is one thing many Millennials adore, it’s homegrown and handmade. State College hosts the largest arts festival in the area, the Central PA Festival of the Arts, which is just one festival of dozens, and flea markets pepper the city and surrounding towns during the summer. Ever popular with this generation, organic, locally grown produce can be purchased at farmer’s markets or be featured in local restaurants.
In State College, Millennials have found a place where they can thrive, financially, socially and recreationally.