Gen Y want to walk and cycle to work, want to live in urban settings and don’t want McMansions.
Here’s what Generation Y doesn’t want: formal living rooms, soaker bathtubs, dependence on a car. In other words, they don’t want their parents’ homes.
Much of this week’s National Association of Home Builders conference has dwelled on the housing needs of an aging baby boomer population. But their children actually represent an even larger demographic. An estimated 80 million people comprise the category known as “Gen Y,” youth born roughly between 1980 and the early 2000s. The boomers, meanwhile, boast 76 million.
Gen Y housing preferences are the subject of at least two panels at this week’s convention. A key finding: They want to walk everywhere. Surveys show that 13% carpool to work, while 7% walk, said Melina Duggal, a principal with Orlando-based real estate adviser RCLCO. A whopping 88% want to be in an urban setting, but since cities themselves can be so expensive, places with shopping, dining and transit such as Bethesda and Arlington in the Washington suburbs will do just fine.
“One-third are willing to pay for the ability to walk,” Ms. Duggal said. “They don’t want to be in a cookie-cutter type of development. …The suburbs will need to evolve to be attractive to Gen Y.”
Outdoor space is important—but please, just a place to put the grill and have some friends over. Lawn-mowing not desired. Amenities such as fitness centers, game rooms and party rooms are important (“Is the room big enough to host a baby shower?” a millennial might think). “Outdoor fire pits,” suggested Tony Weremeichik of Canin Associates, an architecture firm in Orlando. “Consider designing outdoor spaces as if they were living rooms.”
Smaller rooms and fewer cavernous hallways to get everywhere, a bigger shower stall and skip the tub, he said. Oh, but don’t forget space in front of the television for the Wii, and space to eat meals while glued to the tube, because dinner parties and families gathered around the table are so last-Gen. And maybe a little nook in the laundry room for Rover’s bed?
In his presentation, KTGY Group residential designer David Senden showed slide after slide of dwellings that looked like a cross between a hotel lobby and the set of “Melrose Place.”
He christened the subset of the generation delaying marriage and family as “dawdlers.”
“A house in the suburbs is not for them,” Mr. Senden said. “At least not yet.”
Places to congregate are more important than a big apartment, he cautioned. He showed one layout of a studio apartment—350 square feet, as big as Mom and Dad’s Great Room. Common space has migrated to “club rooms,” he said, where Gen-Y residents can host meals and hang out before heading to a common movie-screening room or rooftop swimming pool that they share with the building’s other tenants.
The Great Recession and its effects on young people’s wages will affect how much home they can buy or rent for years to come.
“Not too many college grads can afford a lot of space in the city,” he said. “Think lots of amenities with little tiny units—and a lot of them to keep (fees) down. …The things these places are doing is constantly coordinating activities. The residents get to know each other and it makes for a much livelier and friendlier environment.”