The draw right now is not toward big cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston, where salaries are eaten up by sky-high rents and a lofty cost-of-living.

Instead, rural Texas towns have a whole new appeal because we've got cheaper places to live and a much simpler time of it overall.  So here come the millennials!

The average rent for an apartment in the metro areas in Texas is right around $1000.  In Austin, the average 1-bedroom goes for $1112, and it's only slightly lower than that in Houston and Dallas, according to SmartAsset.  And if you have kids or need a home office and need more space, of course, the price goes up from there.  I looked at a 3-bedroom apartment with a home office a few years ago in the Dallas area that was renting for $2200.  Um, yeah.  East Texas was looking pretty good.

Texas Monthly Magazine points out that because of the high cost-of-living in some of the metro areas, millennials are quick to see the charm in the idea of moving to more rural areas, and they're giving up the bright lights and traffic jams for pastures and more open space.  They're calling the migration a "Rural Renaissance."  We've got plenty of people in East Texas and it's hard to consider us completely "rural," but we'll go with it for now.  More rural than Houston I suppose.

This migration away from major metro areas could mean good things for Lufkin and Nacogdoches, and all of our East Texas towns.  If there is vacant real estate or a downtown retail spot that needs a tenant, there's a brand new generation that will be looking to scoop it up and open coffee shops, restaurants, and quaint and eclectic little retail shops.  Or they may set up an office in those spaces for a new tech business and someone else opens up a pizza joint right next door.  The possibilities are endless.

The median home value in Austin is now $346,000; in Lockhart, for example, it is $148,000, according to Zillow.  In Lufkin, they've got the median value listed at $159,000.

There's a whole new crop of folks realizing that we're on to something good here in East Texas, and as they move our way, it could open up new possibilities for all of us.  New people always bring creative new ideas, barbecue recipes, the coolest flip flops, and sometimes guitars.  As they move in, it's cool with us if they bring a little piece of Austin with them.

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