Independent Millennials

So many Austin millennials live alone — but can they really afford it?

So many Austin millennials live alone — but can they really afford it?

Leaseful interior shot
There's a price for living independently in Austin.  Photo courtesy of Leaseful

Any way you slice it, Austin is a playground for millennials. The city is full of young professionals actively embracing Austin’s lively offerings, and they're doing so independently.

In fact, a recent report by Zillow says Austin is among the 10 U.S. cities with the greatest percentage of millennials living alone. Over 13 percent of millennials live on their own in the Capital City, a figure that Zillow attributes to our strong 5 percent year-over-year employment growth. 

But that independent streak comes at a cost. Instead of eating out every night or having 100 cable channels, millennials are cutting the flab in order to afford the luxury of single living. And it's necessary in Austin. 

The study shows that millennials living alone in Austin make a median salary of $40,000. Despite being named one of the top metro areas for millennial homebuyers, they can afford only 1.5 percent of available Austin homes. That staggering percentage is by far the lowest on the list — millennials in Oklahoma City, for instance, can afford more than 20 percent of homes.

While affordability is an increasing issue in Austin, we're still leading the pack in the Lone Star State. In San Antonio, 10.7 percent of millennials live alone. Twelve percent of Dallas-Fort Worth millennials live alone; in Houston the figure is just 10.6 percent. Those metros also have a much larger millennial population living at home to make ends meet.

Where is the highest concentration of independent young people? Richmond, Virginia (15 percent); Pittsburgh (14.3 percent); and Buffalo, New York (14.2 percent) round out the top three. Kansas City, Missouri; New Orleans; and Oklahoma City are on par with Austin.