Editor's note: If you're a millennial based in the Bay Area, where are you planning to (or fantasizing about) moving to when you leave the Bay? Let SFGATE producer Michelle Robertson know at [email protected] and she might include your answers in an upcoming story.

Studies relating the habits of millennials and the ebbs and flows of real estate are dime-a-dozen these days, but a recent report by the National Association of Realtors will force most Californians to take a long, contemplative pause.

The study, published Thursday, lists the "Top 10 Most Popular Markets for Millennials," which NAR determined by analyzing population trends, income levels, housing conditions and employment games in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas. The top 10 was narrowed down because of the cities "high share of both present millennial residents and recent movers, as well as their favorable employment opportunities."

The latter factor didn't seem to influence NAR's decision to include Bakersfield, Calif. in the ranking. The Kern County county seat has an unemployment rate of 8 percent — this is high given that the national rate of joblessness is 3.8 percent. In San Francisco, it's 2.1 percent.

Okay, so we're already going into this list with a certain skepticism, but if Bakersfield is on it, the city must have something at least partially attractive to those aged 18 to 35.

Our answer: "Bakersfield's affordable homes make it inviting to millennials," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement.

The median sale price in Bakersfield as of February was $249,600, according to Zillow. Yes, that is indeed attractive to California young adults accustomed to spending upwards of $1,600 to rent a dilapidated apartment in the state's coastal hubs.

NAR says 28 percent of the Bakersfield population is composed of millennials, while 67 percent of recent movers to the city also belong to that age group.

Yun also notes that while unemployment is high in Bakersfield, "we're seeing job growth there pick up at a strong pace." Home building in the city is increasing, as well, and at current prices, the average Bakersfield millennial can afford to purchase 15 percent of houses in the area. (This San Francisco millennial can afford to purchase exactly zero percent of the houses in my city, but I digress.)

Choosing a city of residence depends on balancing a series of factors: cost of living, job availability, proximity to family, opportunities for entertainment and debauchery, and so on. It's a matter of the city-shopper in-question deciding which attributes are important to her, and then choosing a home base that aligns with that vision.

For example, a person who seeks gainful employment and at least a dozen bars in close proximity to their apartment would likely choose a place like San Francisco, knowing such perks come with a cost. If it's home ownership you seek, and are fine with your civic entertainment options consisting of air-conditioned movie theaters and shopping malls, Bakersfield might just be the millennial landing spot for you.

These factors obviously change as one ages, settles down with a spouse and kiddos, but NAR, by selecting Bakersfield as a millennial haven, is actually pinpointing a trend economists have been observing for some time now.

Speaking to SFGATE last year, Phuong Nguyen, a research specialist at the California Department of Finance said she's noticed an unexpected development in migration trends for California: The populations of inland counties are growing faster than that of urban coastal counties.

"We were surprised at that," Nguyen said. California's coastal regions have historically drawn in-state migrants who leave their provincial hometowns in search of employment opportunity and urban environments.

It's a development that runs counter to the long-held narrative of small-town folks picking up and moving to their state's hubs of culture and commerce. Californians are still doing that, but they may not like what they're finding — or at least the high costs associated with just breathing the air of pricy coastal cities.

That's why cities like Sacramento — long considered a cow town by snobby Bay Area-ites — has become increasingly chattered about in lifestyle blogs and touted as an up-and-coming city.

Cities like Sacramento, however, have what San Francisco lacks: an ample supply of (relatively) affordable housing. New Census data confirms this: the population of Sacramento County grew by 122,240 between 2010 and 2018.

Like millennial's youth, low housing costs only stay that way for so long, especially in "hot" cities like Sacramento or — fine, we'll admit it — Bakersfield.

Read Michelle Robertson's latest stories and send her news tips at [email protected]sfgate.com

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