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What is 'Generation Y' Searching For?

By: Jillian Sutherland

Date: Jan, 29 2013

“I just don’t think our generation is as focused on the accumulation of stuff as former generations,” my 30-something friend tells me as we wrap up a quick afternoon hike. “To me, life is more about experiences than showing people what I’ve been able to buy for myself.” Since the recent recession hit, there has been much speculation about the economic impacts of the eventual buying power of Generation Y, also known as the Millennials – the soon-to-be largest demographic cohort that boasts a current estimated population of 72 million. As a Millennial that is also a planner, I spend a lot of time thinking about what kinds of lifestyles the people of my generation will choose to lead as we mature, settle down, start building families and careers.  Is what my friend said true about our age group - that we are consumers of experiences rather than of things? And if that is true, what does that mean for the communities of the West? What if the statistic that Generation Y values walkability above every other community amenity is true? Where are they going to chose to live and spend their money? The chart below, which was a part of a presentation given by RCLCO’s Adam Ducker at the recent Sonoran Institute’s Community Builders Summit, shows that Millennials are willing to trade lot size and home features to be closer to work and shopping. New_CustomersWillTradeLotSizeGone may be the days of “drive until you qualify” mindsets for single family home ownership. Are our communities currently set up to meet these shifting housing preferences? These are the kinds of questions that I hope to address in this blog space, which will grow and develop right along with the Community Builders website. I want to explore the conversation around building livable, prosperous communities from the Generation Y perspective. As our communities continue to recover from the recent recession, economic sustainability seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Offering attractive housing, employment, shopping and recreation opportunities for this growing generation will be an essential piece to achieving the sustained prosperity all of our communities are seeking. And figuring out how to get that done is exactly what Community Builders is all about.

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By: Jillian Sutherland

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