We’ve all heard the sad story of Millennials living with their parents, drowning in student debt, and working at Starbucks with liberal arts degrees.
While part of that image is accurate for a percentage of the U.S. population—a recent Pew Research Study showed 32 percent of Millennials do live with the folks—a larger percentage of those 18 to 34 years old live independently (48 percent). And a lot of them are renting.
Millennials are often drawn toward renting versus buying, in part because of that student loan debt. They also like the flexibility of being able to take advantage of new economic opportunities by not being tethered to a mortgage. These are free spirits.
“For Millennials, life is about experience over ownership,” said Sumner Billingsley, a managing partner of The Brickyard in Farmers Branch. “Thoughtfully designed apartments and rental townhomes give [them] the ability to enjoy creative and unique design elements that are typically reserved for single family homes, but at a budget [they] can afford.”
So what are the top five considerations of today’s Millennial looking for a temporary dwelling? The Billingsley Company did some research and came up with a list.
- Proximity to work and entertainment – Millennials often put an emphasis on their personal lives over their work lives. They prefer housing locations that keep them out of the car or keep a commute short so they can choose exactly where they spend their time. Choice is key, and centrally located developments are among the most popular.
- Eco-friendly housing – Going green is an important concept to Millennials, and sustainable living has been part of the conversation they grew up with. They are more conscious about the amount of resources being used and often advocate a lifestyle of using less.
- Public space – Millennial renters want shared public spaces that foster community rather than just interaction. They crave an environment that creates a hub of activity in an organic and unforced way, where residents can hang out, work and play. They also value dog parks for times when it’s hard to take long walks with their pets.
- Urban feel and design – Millennials value unique settings and architecture that mirrors urban history. Millennials are the consummate mix-masters and have been able to blend retro design juxtaposed against contemporary elements. This hybrid industrial-yet-earthy aesthetic gives this generation the excitement of urban living regardless of location.
- Technological elements – Technology is a large part of daily life for the bulk of people nowadays. Smart – and smartly appointed – multi-purpose lounges and tech hubs with state-of-the-art equipment speak directly to the Millennial renter. They’re connected to the internet 24 hours a day through their cell phones and other mobile devices. Apartment communities that cater to young adults should be cable and internet ready. Access to complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the common areas is also a plus, as are lots of indoor and outdoor electrical outlets for charging mobile devices.
These findings echo some of what we’ve written about before: Millennials are all about the tech. Smart apartment communities will take notice of what this generation wants in their housing because home ownership is out of reach for many Millennials, even if they want to buy. They not only have debt, but also low wages.
One company catering to Millennials is Billingsley, which built The Brickyard to be a New York-inspired property for young professionals. The property has a fresh urban feel in an excellent commuter location. The amenities range from a pool to green initiatives such as valet trash, recycling, and smart car charging ports for those who need to charge their cars.
“The Brickyard is even piloting a new smart apartment system through Dwelo – the program consists of lights, locks and thermostats for multifamily communities that can all be controlled in or out of your apartment through your smart phone,” said Billingsley. “The Brickyard is currently trialing the system in a few units.”
We’ll probably start seeing more of this in the near future as rental properties compete for Millennial attention and rental bucks. In the meantime, read some more about how Millennials are changing the real estate business for everyone, and be extra nice to your next barista at Starbucks.