How Education Drives Chicago’s Housing Market

by James Bellandi

The Chicagoland area thrives on higher education


Education plays a big role in the lives of Chicagoland’s residents, and the latest rankings from Degree Query’s 50 Most Educated Places in America confirm its importance.

According to Degree Query, the Wheaton-Naperville-Hinsdale area is the 30th most-educated area in the country, while the Waukegan-North Chicago-Lake Forest-Highland Park area ranked No. 47.

The list looked at Census data on a county level for the percentage of people 25 and older holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the Wheaton-Naperville-Hinsdale area, 46.3 percent of the 618,755 people that were over the age of 25 held a bachelor’s degree or higher. The area is home to six public schools, nine private schools and eight college and university campuses, as well as being in close proximity to the city of Chicago. In the Waukegan-North Chicago-Lake Forest-Highland Park area, the rate was at 41.9 percent of 448,708.

The highest ranked city on the list was Arlington, VA.

Education Creates Benefits Towards Homebuying

Higher education has always been looked at as a natural step toward success. According to a Better Homes and Gardens survey, 60 percent of Generation Z want to earn an advanced degree, which follows the trend of Millennials and Generation Xers.

The benefits of education are numerous for housing prospects, and Millennials’ struggles post-downturn are a perfect illustration of why. According to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study, college jobs paid on average $78,500 annually, double that of the non-college administrative support sector ($37,207) and nearly four times as much as the low-skilled sector ($23,584). Even though 45 percent of college graduates did work a “non-college” job, only one in five worked in the low-skilled sector. Often these jobs were used as springboards to gain experience in order to get a college job in their field.

Why are such stats important? According to realtor.com, 51 percent of Millennial renters said a new job, promotion or raise would encourage them to purchase a house, and 50 percent said being able to save for a downpayment would also help. Millennials stuck at home or renting have undercut the expected boom of young homeowners, and better wages do far more to encourage home purchases than rising rents or other factors.

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