Millennials. We hear a lot about them. They tend not to drink alcohol or smoke. They like avocados, they are into ‘experiences’ rather than ‘things’. We now also know that they are the ‘back-to-the-city’ generation.
Recent research in the US journal ‘Regional Studies’ found that Millennials – born between 1992 and 2004 and who are also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation – are apparently least happy in small rural areas, much happier in small urban areas, a little less happy in the suburbs and the most happy in the largest metropolitan areas. This goes against trends of the previous generations such as Generation X and the Baby Boomers who generally preferred life outside the cities.
These previous generations saw living in the suburbs as a sign of success and happiness. Today, cities are safer, offer more and better economic opportunities, afford more chances to make friends or find partners, provide a wide range of amenities, and are more associated with status and ‘making it’. Millennials also place a higher value on diversity.
Leading real estate agency Lucas Fox has been tracking the changes in its buyer demographics over the last 10 years and has noted some significant changes, particularly among foreign buyers of city homes.
“Overall, we’re seeing the average age of our typical overseas city buyer decrease,” explains Sergi Pérez from Lucas Fox’s New Developments team in Barcelona. “We’re registering increasing numbers of clients in their 30s and 40s, many of whom have made money from start-ups, work in finance or the entertainment industries. Millennial buyers like the ability to work remotely or simply want to add a city pad to their growing property portfolios. They are seeking the vibrancy of living in an urban hub, with easy access to restaurants, bars, gyms and leisure facilities.”
Former FC Barcelona player Isaac Cuenca is one such buyer. He bought an apartment in the heart of the Catalan capital this year. He says that location was a key factor in his decision.
“I bought in the centre because I wanted to be part of a big city like Barcelona and at the same time enjoy the great weather, be able to walk to the shops, restaurants and bars and have a drink with friends without having to take the car for everything. If you live in the heart of the city you don’t miss out,” he comments.
Hugo Thistlethwayte, Head of International Residential at Savills, Lucas Fox’s new Associates, says that the company has seen similar trends where they operate. He says that Millennials tend to love cities that give them modern living, access to culture, sport and a 24-hour lifestyle.
“London, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, Miami, LA and New York exemplify this, with amenities and facilities at their heart,” comments Thistlethwayte. “This need for a city buzz is not just for a second or weekend holiday home. Millennials are increasingly looking for the same quality of life in their primary home and they are not afraid to move or combine a place to work with a place to live and play. They enjoy modern art and architecture and make great customers for the local bars, coffee shops and restaurants, eating out socially more often than their previous generations. They are not great commuters, preferring to live and work in the city centre and often will hire a car when required rather than own their own.”
Thistlethwayte adds that Millennials are playing an increasingly important role in the way new homes are being designed and built, opting for modern buildings with lateral living, parking, concierge, gyms and spas.
“Developers now look to integrate commercial space with retail, restaurants, gyms and residential, not only within the same developments but within the same buildings,” he adds.