New Hampshire’s millennial misconception
It’s wrong to think that the state can immediately transform itself into becoming ‘millennial-friendly’ through select actions
New Hampshire understands the problem, but can’t offer the solution.
New Hampshire shouldn’t be competing for millennials with Boston because the state can’t win. I say this as a young millennial professional, and more importantly a New Hampshire native, who currently lives in Boston. The issue of millennial migration from the state has been well-documented in these pages, but writers err in their belief that the state can immediately transform into “millennial-friendly” through select actions. Instead, a longer-term reframing of the problem will provide a more achievable solution.
There’s a misconception that a railway connecting the state to Boston will attract millennials — it won’t. Initiatives like Stay Work Play are grounded in the right thinking, but can’t compete with a full city built for young people. The “quality of life” argument doesn’t work because I feel that my life is already high-quality as-is.
I left the state for college, returning for internships over the three summers. I had the chance to come back full-time, but also had two Boston-based offers to consider. Ultimately, I felt that the city of Boston offered me growth in both my personal life and professional career that wasn’t immediately achievable in New Hampshire, and this has been validated over the past 18-months.
I spend 90 percent of my time in a two-mile radius, and I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. I have a five-minute walk to the Charles River, 10 minutes to my office, 13 minutes to Fenway, and 15 minutes to the Common — all accessible without the burden of owning a car.
Each offers a unique experience with diverse entertainment options — cultural, sporting, culinary, and more. I’m surrounded by people like me — young, ambitious and aspirational. Professional opportunities abound within a tight radius.
Yes, the city is expensive, crowded, and Bostonians can be grumpy, but right now I don’t care. I’m not at a place in my life where I would trade the tranquility and “quality of life” in New Hampshire for the energy and excitement of a city.
New Hampshire has identified the millennial problem, but the reality is that for people like me, the state should not and cannot compete against Boston. The New Hampshire value proposition doesn’t resonate with me yet.
That said, I cherish my home state. Many in my office enjoy its mountains for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer, and this is where opportunity lies. There will come a day when the hustle and bustle of the city won’t be as attractive to us, and a homey neighborhood feel will hold more appeal. This is where New Hampshire should be focusing its effort.
Catch me in the middle of my career, when I’m searching for stability and space. Continue to attract short-term millennial visitors to the state with the goal of promoting a long-term connection when we’re ready for change. Don’t try to adapt the strengths of the state to my generation, because they don’t translate.
The state should position itself for the next phase of a young professional’s life, not the one that we’re currently in. This stage of my life won’t last, and when I’m looking for what’s next, I hope that New Hampshire will be a viable option to call home once again.
Jordan Bean, an associate with Stax Inc., can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.