Kai Reynolds began seeing the demographics of Washington, D.C.’s sprawling metropolis trend younger around 2006.
And even when the national economy tanked in 2008, D.C.’s relatively strong employment market provided a landing pad for many recent college graduates and young adults, says Reynolds, a principal at Chevy Chase, Md.-based developer JBG.
“It was affordable and there were jobs and it’s a pretty great city,” Reynolds says.
The JBG team is continuing to build in the D.C. metro area to keep up with Millennial demand for downtown living.
“We have more bikes on our properties than cars,” Reynolds says. “They want really good retail. What we have found with these renters is when they come down to the street of their building, what they want is the vibe of a vibrant urban area.”
Lynette Hegeman also sees close proximity to jobs as a driving force behind Millennial demand, noting that Atlanta's job market has encouraged an uptick in young professionals migrating downtown. Walkability and green features are influential, according to Hegeman, vice president of marketing at Boston-based Berkshire Property Advisors.
“I think a lot of Millennials like to live close where they work and they’re drawn to those urban areas that have a lot to offer,” Hegeman, says. “I think Millennials are a lot more green than other generations. Not having a car is not really a big deal if they live in a city where they can work and play.”
Atlanta has all of the essential ingredients for entertainment. The year-round schedule of sporting events with major- and minor-league teams coupled with a vibrant arts community offers the spirited generation ample amounts of activity.
“I think that it’s a matter of adventure,” says Fromm, president of the Kansas City-based marketing firm FutureCast. “And it’s the ability to do lots of new, fun and different things all the time.”
Meanwhile Portland is also on the radar with affordability being a driving factor there, Fromm says.
“As Millennials get older and start to have children, affordable housing might become a bigger focus,” he says.
Both Fromm and Hegeman also chimed in with Austin, Texas as a place where Gen Y renters are flocking. As one of Nielsen's Top 10 Markets for Millennials, Austin is capturing many of the largest generation. The food and bar industry is a booming attraction point for the young renters and the city’s 6th Street area has everything to offer them.
“Millennials want a nice apartment with nice finishes, but that’s not the reason they’re selecting the place,” Hegeman says. “It is just as much about the surrounding area.”
Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.