Speaking with young friends in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and London, it’s apparent to me that Millennials in advanced economies across the globe share the same concern – and I’m not referring to finding elusive Pokemon Go characters. In short, the cost of living is too high, they are fed up, and they are anxious to get out. Hongkongers ask me what it’s like to live in London; young people in London meanwhile look for an exit of their own.
This was confirmed recently in a survey by Youthfulcities, an organisation helping cities understand and engage Millennials. The Urban Millennial Survey, now in its third year, found that 58% of Millennials say they will leave their city in the next decade because of affordability concerns, limited employment opportunities and safety. Furthermore, only 17% of Millennials feel that their city governments are listening to them.
The survey gauged the opinions of 15,000 young people aged 15-34 (are 15 years olds “Millennials”? Anyway…) in 34 cities worldwide, and described the demographic shift of young people voting with their feet as a “global phenomenon”:
From the perspective of Millennials, there are no negative consequences to their increasing mobility. It opens up more opportunities, experiences, learning and self-development. Youth may leave for short-term opportunities like post secondary education, short term jobs or travel and then return to their cities. They may be tempted to leave for good.
It’s a fascinating read, and an important one. Young people are our present and our future, yet the current reality is not pretty for many. Based on experience, I would suggest the following to Millennials: leave. Pack your bags, and get out!
There can be no negative consequences. See and experience the world, and do it now. Make connections across the globe and embrace different cultures. Join the digital nomads tribe, and live life on the cheap selling what you know best, from social media consulting to teaching English or something new and wondrous. It might not be easy (it most likely won’t be), but it would make more sense than grinding it out in a city whose interests lie elsewhere. Why stay?