In the article Millennials and Their Homes: Still seeking the American Dream written by Jeremy Burke and Louise Keely of The Demand Institute, 1000 people from the age of 18-29 were surveyed to predict how this “Millenial Generation” will affect the economy and housing market over the next five years. The Demand Institute found that in the next five years, suburbs will continue to be popular for young families. However, the article stresses that Millennials have a strong desire for walkable and convenient communities with good schools and open space. It found 62% of Millennials desire to rent or purchase a single-family home – 48% of which desire to be suburbs and 38% in urban areas. Through their findings that 89% of Millennials use a car at least once a week, Burke and Keely concluded that car importance is unlikely to change in the near future and that cars will continue influence living decisions. Although employment rates are low and student loans are high, the article found that Millennials still aspire to own homes. 60% of the Millennials surveyed plan to purchase in the next five years, 24% already own a home, and 16% do not plan to. The number of households headed by Millennials is expected to increase from about 13 to 18 million.
I was interested to see if I, a 22 year old female college student from New Jersey, fit the trends that the Demand Institute predict of Millennials in the next five years. With some of these findings I could tell right off the bat whether or not I fit in with the statistics. I do think it is likely that I find myself in a suburban setting at some point in my life. While I doubt I will do so in the next five years, I do believe that I will find myself owning a single-family house at the point when I am ready to raise a family. Having grown up in a single-family home in a nice suburban town, I do wish to raise a family in that setting somewhere down the road. I would however, prefer to live in one with neo-traditional flavor. I like the idea of being able to walk to places such as a grocery store but also like the idea of having access to a car as well.
This past week I took a handful of photographs of the built environment around me. Through this, I was able to discover some trends in what I find attractive and potentially where I could find myself living in the near future.
I have been to the High Line Park in New York City a couple of times and have absolutely fallen in love with it. I think the fact that this park is made out of something that was once considered an eyesore to many (an out of commission, elevated, rusted rail line) is now a large attraction for a variety of people for a verity of uses is an impressive achievement. I believe that parks like these will become more and more popular in the new future and that living near one is very desirable.
About ten years ago, a beach club in Sea Bright, NJ was torn down and converted into a small street of cookie-cutter, pastel-colored, multimillion-dollar houses with ocean views. I think that these houses are far too large for their property size. Because these mansions were developed at the same time and are so proportionate to each other, they lack any originality. Their perfectly manicured lawns, coupled with an absence of any other vegetation type, makes the new street look extremely artificial and out of place.
Up the street from my house in Fair Haven is a house that sits on top of a small hill. Unlike most of the houses in this town, it doesn’t have a large lawn in the front. I admire the landscape they have chosen for their front yard as it is full of a variety of vegetation such as ivy, rose bushes, and shrubs instead of typical grass. I assume that the upkeep for this person’s yard is a lot less than grass and it probably retains more water. I also think that it makes this house stand out from the others on the street and is attractive.
In Sea Bright, NJ there are a lot of private beach clubs along the shore. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, most of these beach clubs were modest building with showers, lockers, bathrooms and pools. However, the storm redefined the meaning of beach clubs. Most of them were completely wipped out by the storm creating an opportunity for most club owners to go bigger and “better” than before. This meant that beach clubs are now two stories, packed tightly with cabanas and lockers, banquet halls, bars, restaurants, you name it. As a result, everyone has a new opinion what a beach club should be and on what they have become. I personally do not like this built up design. I think it is far too big and over the top. I also think that these large buildings taken away people’s freedom to enjoy the beach as a public good. Sea Bright is a very small town and is less than a quarter wide in many places. Not being able to see the beach from the street on a peninsula that is as thin as this one is crazy and I think it unfairly strips the value of the beach from the town.
Having grown up not far from the main street of Red Bank, New Jersey, I quickly gained an appreciation for this small city at a young age. It is a very accessible town (either by train or by car) and has much of what anyone needs within its boundaries. On Broad Street you can find mixed residential and commercial buildings with on-street parking and parking in the back. I find Red Bank to be an enjoyable town because of all it has to offer. Within a short distance, someone can leave their place of work, walk to their apartment and, on the way, pass multiple of stores and restaurants.
Through this exercise, I have found that I do for the most part, fit in with the trends expressed in the Millennials and Their Homes: Still seeking the American Dream article. I would enjoy owning a single-family home in a walkable and convenient community that has a mix of suburban and urban qualities.
Burbank, Jeremy, and Louise Keely. “Millennials and Their Homes: Still Seeking The American Dream.” Web log post. Demand Institue, 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. <http://www.demandinstitute.org/blog/millennials-and-their-homes>.