Wayne County is home to a thriving and growing community of young professionals. Some are originally from the area, but some chose to move here. In recent years, younger generations have been trading in the big city for the small-town lifestyle. This is something that goes against the traditional narrative of this group, who usually prefer larger communities.

What is causing this specific trend? What does it mean for communities like the ones in Wayne County? As Forward Wayne County continues its focus on young professionals, this blog will examine a few reasons for the script change.

Personal and Economic Reasons

COVID-19 brought about several societal changes across the country. One of those changes was people being confronted with making hard decisions on where they lived. Those decisions were centered around several factors like housing prices and remote work living options. Naturally, this led to more people coming back to smaller communities, and it was prevalent in the younger generations. A 2021 study by CNBC found that 31% of young adults chose to relocate during the Pandemic.

This became known as the Great Relocations and has been happening for years. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 30% of Millennials would rather live in a small town, while Gen Z has started to prefer suburban metros slightly. The data from the Pandemic and recent years helps support evidence of young people moving back to smaller communities. What is causing so many people to make the change?  

Small Town Lifestyle and Community

It’s no secret that small communities offer a lifestyle that is unique to them. Locations like Wayne County provide a quiet and simple way of living, which appeal to some young professionals.

Small towns provide a strong sense of belonging and community, making it easier for everyone to know each other and stay in contact. And by being connected, young professionals can get active in local organizations and events.

Young professionals in Wayne County can rely on organizations like HYPE to help them find others in the same age group. Make My Move offers young professionals the opportunity and connections to move here.

And in Wayne County, no matter where you live, you can be in another community within 30 minutes to explore, dine, connect, or just have fun.


Affordability and cost of living have been driving factors in young professionals moving to small communities. Compared to larger metropolitan areas, smaller towns tend to be more affordable, whether you’re talking about housing or daily essentials.

Housing is big for younger generations as they transition from apartment living to purchasing a home. Several studies have noted affordability is a massive hurdle for Millennials and Gen Zers in buying a home. Housing prices have typically remained cheaper in smaller communities, which could provide young professionals living in them the opportunity to become homeowners.

Wayne County is getting ready to experience new housing options. From market rate apartments geared toward young professionals, to single family homes, the county will have more housing to bring more young professionals back to Wayne County.

Remote Work

The increase in remote work options opened Pandora’s Box regarding living options. With offices closed due to COVID, companies had to resort to their employees working from home. Since then, remote working has only exploded in popularity, and it allows young professionals the opportunity to live and work where they choose.

This has made It more accessible for them to move to a small town. They no longer need to rely on a big city for employment as they can work from the comfort of their homes. Remote working gives them a big city job in the boundaries of a small community.  


Younger generations, especially Gen Z, are known for their sense of entrepreneurship. That entrepreneurial spirit may entice young professionals to open their own businesses in a small community. Starting a business in places like Wayne Couty offers several benefits, including less competition, less start-up costs, a readily available customer base, and the opportunity to grow.

In addition, young entrepreneurs can join the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and take advantage of their Buy Local committee. The Buy Local Committee encourages residents of Wayne County to utilize local retail businesses and local services in order to improve our local economy. 

Local Connections

Another reason why young professionals move back to small communities is because they are from the area. Working in your hometown can be a solid way to start your career. Young professionals who return to their hometowns may already have solid connections with community members and organizations. This can lead to easy networking opportunities and job prospects.

Local connections also help young professionals with volunteer opportunities at local organizations. It also can help with joining nonprofit boards, supporting fundraising events, and professional development.


What does all this mean for small communities? It shows that young professionals have a genuine interest in living and working in areas like Wayne County.

Local governments and organizations should capitalize on this interest to help attract young professionals. This has already been set in motion with initiatives like Make My Move and other local projects like housing developments.

Small communities have a lot to offer to young professionals, and some of them are starting to see this. It helps show us that Wayne County is not forgotten but are being given new life through new generations.

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