It’s time for suburbia as defined by the Millennials. Some people are calling it “Hipsturbia” but the tag “hipster” is a bit old for this new generation redefining what has been left to them by the baby boomers. I’m sure they’ll come up with a better tagline than Hipsturbia.
It was only a short 18 months or so ago when the predicted trend for Millennials was to remain in the city core where everything was within walking distance. But now these “kids” are having kids of their own and seeing the value of a white picket fence – as long as there is a coffee shop on the corner.
Millennials are at the top of the food chain when it comes to demographics. Not only are Millennials the next generation defining a new lifestyle and economy, they have the numbers to make it happen. According to the Pew Research Center (along with government data and most reliable sources), 2019 is the year that Millennials officially out number Baby Boomers. The number of Millennials is projected to exceed 73 million while the number of Baby Boomers will have declined to 72 million from its 1999 peak of 79 million. Yes, the Baby Boomers are dying off in big numbers.
While Baby Boomers are redefining our health care system and retirement care, the Millennials are redefining everything else. When it comes to suburbia that means turning it into a version of the city core where many forecasters thought Millennials were destined to remain throughout their lives. Today they are split between the city and suburbia but the trend is for more baby strollers being pushed past green private lawns than in city parks.
They moved from the suburbs into the city and are now making a round trip back to their home roots. But they are bringing parts of the urban experience back with them. Fortunately, it’s very easy to see what it is that they want in their version of suburbia. Number one is affordability that includes a lifestyle of walking to dining, shopping, entertainment, and jobs. All identified in the Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2020 report recently released by Urban Land Institute and PwC.
This has profound meaning to many more than only real estate professionals. Entrepreneurs will likely to be the first to catch on both as builders and retailers. The old axiom for the Baby Boomer generation was for builders and retailers to create new developments wherever a new suburban McDonalds was planned because McDonalds had mastered demographic trend studies. That has almost certainly changed with the Millennials. Today is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and builders to give each neighborhood a unique character rather than making everyone a cookie cutter McDonalds and Chuck E. Cheese.
Developers and entrepreneurs will do well to revisit the formula that revived city cores a few decades ago to attract the once younger Millennial crowd. It’s a simple live-work-play in the neighborhood formula. It’s a combination of affordability and creativity. For living units, it’s a combination of owned single-family homes and condos, along with rental houses, condos, and apartments. It’s diversity getting along together with small niche amenities without the mass marketing.
For the neighborhood center, its entertainment venues next to office and apartment buildings. Activity centers will be like small parks in the city with open space for sports alongside passive space for reading, socializing, and working outside of the office. There may even be elements of a 24/7 city with always-open pubs, restaurants, and coffee houses. The formula for Millennials remains a live, work, walk neighborhood in the suburbs.
What do you think the secret is for a successful Millennial suburb? Please leave your comment. Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to [email protected].