HOUSTON - Marketing to millennials is something Houston leaders say they’re purposely doing to attract young professionals and brand new data shows it’s paying off.

“I used to live in Manhattan,” said 27 year-old Keegan Farley. He traded life in the big apple for what he first thought was a big cow town.

“All you think about Houston when you don’t live here is that you can’t walk anywhere, it’s spread out, it’s cowboys,” said Farley. But other city slickers have since joined him in calling Houston home.

“I’ve got a few more friends from NYC that have moved here recently and have loved Houston,” said Farley.  “They haven’t even looked back.”

A new survey by moving company Mayflower tracked the nation’s top 10 cities for attracting millennials like Farley. Houston ranks number 9, just in front of Atlanta. San Francisco was number one.

“What we’re doing here is extremely important,” said Downtown Houston executive director Bob Eury.

Downtown Houston is currently plotting the area’s next 20 years via a series of workshops and surveys. Creating places for people to work, live, and play is part of the strategy. Buffalo Bayou Park is the kind of amenity that young professionals and others are after.

“And we know that millennials really do like an urban environment and it’s exciting that Houston is becoming more attractive,” said Eury.

That’s something Farley and many others have discovered first hand. “I have nothing but love for this city because I think they’re headed down a great path,” said Farley.

Here’s a look at how cities ranked in the Mayflower survey of top 10 cities attracting millennials:

1.       San Francisco

2.       Los Angeles

3.       Washington, D.C.

4.       Seattle

5.       Chicago

6.       New York

7.       Dallas

8.       Denver

9.       Houston

10.   Atlanta