The Nest at 1324, an 18-story apartment tower near Temple University in Philadelphia, caters to the Gen Z renter.
Courtesy Bock Development Group The Nest at 1324, an 18-story apartment tower near Temple University in Philadelphia, caters to the Gen Z renter.

When it comes to choosing their living environment, people today want to have it all without the burden of owning a thing. This is referred to as rentership, a growing trend in which people are choosing leases over mortgages.

According to a semiannual survey conducted by Freddie Mac, the percentage of renters who aren’t interested in owning a home has increased 13% since 2016 and now sits at 20%. While millennials are typically seen as the driving force for these statistics, a new generation is emerging within the pro-renter space. Generation Z, or individuals born in 1996 or later, is creating a force on the rental frontier as members of this group locate to off-campus apartments through their college years and seek their own housing upon entering the workforce.

The significance of owning a home has evolved from generation to generation, with each age group placing a different value on the need and desire to own a home. The notion that one must purchase a home to achieve the American dream has become a less important life milestone for younger generations who prefer the affordability and no-strings-attached flexibility that renting provides.

Smaller Is Better
Members of Gen Z have expressed that they’re satisfied with smaller living quarters because they’re more attracted to urban amenities, experiences, and traveling than settling down in a large suburban home. With this feedback in mind, developers should prioritize crafting multifamily rental properties in major U.S. cities over suburban residential projects if they’re looking to reach young professionals.

Now more than ever, amenity-rich apartments that incorporate both community-gathering spaces and wellness offerings are taking the multifamily rental industry by storm. Due to a shift in renter demographics, in-unit apartment amenities have taken less precedence. While state-of-the-art in-unit finishes for luxury renters are still important, developers are now investing more in common-area amenities that fulfill younger residents’ interest in group activities.

Amenities such as rooftop decks, fitness centers, spin studios, and study lounges are hot with Gen Z renters. Apartments that feature coworking spaces are also attractive, as more and more people now have the ability to work remotely. These features help ignite social experiences and make an apartment more than just a place to store one’s belongings. It’s important that developers understand the sense of community Gen Zers are craving and incorporate in their projects places that bring people together.

Safety Still Top of Mind
Along with attractive experiential offerings, apartments that offer a safe and secure environment are crucial, especially when developing in a city. Developers should consider including advanced security features, such as biometric systems providing four-tier secure access, key-fob entry, and 24/7 monitoring. Such safeguards put not only potential renters’ minds at ease, but also the minds of their parents, who might greatly influence their children’s decision to rent an apartment in the first place.

In choosing a residence, Gen Z renters also consider whether the living space offers technology-adaptive furniture and eco-friendly design. Some must-have items in these categories are wired furniture, or furniture with cut-outs to tuck away wires for TVs and computers; LED lighting; and high-efficiency washing machines. High-speed internet, wireless sound systems, and technology-syncing capabilities are also high on the checklist for young renters.

Bock Development Group’s new project The Nest at 1324 is an off-campus student housing community located near Temple University in Philadelphia. The luxury, 18-story apartment tower caters to the Gen Z renter with an unbeatable location, premier group-minded amenities, and top-notch security features.

If multifamily developers want to succeed in today’s ever-changing industry, they need to first understand their audience and how to reach them. Generation Z’s purchasing power can’t be ignored, and knowing—and catering to—their living preferences will not only increase occupancy and revenue but make for happier, more loyal renters.