Millennial Interests in Sustainable Communities

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Millennials have a different outlook on communities and living practices than their predecessors. Because their salaries afford them less purchasing power than the Baby Boomer generation, many are only now starting to look into the possibility of becoming homeowners.

However, rather than pursuing the typical “American Dream,” which entails a large home with a small, manageable yard, and a two- or three-car garage, Millennials are after something else. Their priorities include smaller, more sustainably built communities, and walkability is a must.   Millennials want a living environment built around people, not cars, and these tendencies are slowly shifting trends in the housing market.

Let’s explore more about Millennials’ interest in sustainable communities and how homeownership is expected to change in the decades to come.

What Exactly are Millennials After?

So, what exactly is it that sets Millennials apart from their parents and grandparents? In part, it’s their values —  today’s world is highly globalized, and yet it’s difficult for young people to make meaningful connections with their peers, due in part to dispersed family models and the lack of local communities.

In highly individualistic Western societies, privacy is valued above all, which has cut into community bonds. In an attempt to counteract this trend, Millennials frequent farmers’ markets, prioritize sustainability, create community interest groups, and prefer public transportation over private transportation.

Unfortunately, most American cities are built around motor vehicles rather than human beings. Besides the detriment this presents to the environment, it can also be alienating for humans.  Not knowing the community you live and work in means that when disaster strikes, collaboration is more difficult. When it comes to real estate preferences, 60% of Americans display a “desire to live in walkable, pedestrian-focused communities.”

Public health, local businesses, and cultural richness all stand to gain from walkable communities. In addition, such communities expand access to essential services for the elderly and disabled, increasing levels of personal independence all while reducing vehicular carbon emissions. Residents save time when running errands or attending appointments, and neighbors greet each other on the street rather than retreating into their homes.

Maneuvering the Market

Although millennials know they’re seeking a compact, friendly community, they’re hindered by a few drawbacks. Millennials are avoiding home buying due to the high cost of housing, tighter lending standards, and the high levels of debt they possess. Insufficient credit and short job histories also mean that many younger home buyers are denied a home loan or may need their parents to cosign on a mortgage loan.

Although hesitancy persists, often for financial reasons, those Millennials who are purchasing homes are shifting the market toward more sustainable building practices. Solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and community gardens are all part of the millennial home buying wish-list that is changing the face of the housing market.

Millennials are also changing the way that potential buyers find homes. Video home tours, Instagram Reels, and virtual reality allow this generation to envision themselves in their new home before they even make an offer.

Getting Settled In

For many millennials, making a home purchase is a big deal because it could be their first and last. A growing number of young people are saddled with student debt, loans, and the rising cost of living, making homeownership seem almost unattainable.

As a result, many successful homeowners are eager to settle into their space as soon as the purchase is finalized. Owning a home means the opportunity for renovations, DIY work, and overall personalization. After all, after years of renting and possibly living with roommates, it’s a blessing to no longer second-guess every nail driven into the wall.

Some Millennials have even chosen a more hands-on approach by purchasing a fixer-upper, a home whose price is more compatible with the millennial budget but that may require extensive renovations and risk. Potential buyers would be wise to investigate what needs to be restored and replaced when renovating an old house.

Buying a home also represents a pivotal milestone for many couples. Even if they have yet to tie the knot, purchasing a home together is oftentimes regarded as a bigger step than marriage for today’s generation. As such, it’s important to make your house feel like a home, to usher in the start of your new life together. Simple tips for couples sharing a living space for the first time include communicating before the move, compromising on décor, maintaining separate lives but spending plenty of quality time together, and planning out household chores, cooking, and more.

A Shifting Real Estate Market

Whether due to home-buying constraints or changing values, Millennials know what they want and they won’t stop until they get it. Their families are small, meaning they’re willing to spend a year or more searching for the ideal home in which to grow. Against all odds, including pickiness and financial constraints, Millennials are determined to find the perfect sustainable, walkable community that represents their values and life goals. How will these changes play out in the future of real estate? Only time will tell.

About The Author: Dan Matthews (Twitter) – Writer, Content Consultant, Conservationist, and Lover of all things DIY.
Photo by Mathyas Kurmann on Unsplash

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