Generation Y, also referred to as Millennials or Echo Boomers, is the generation born roughly in the 1980's to early 1990's. What makes them such an important and interesting group is that they are the largest generational class since the Baby Boomers. In most cases, they are the sons and daughters of the Baby Boomers, explaining how they earned the name, Echo Boomers.
According to broad demographic studies, what are the characteristics that define this group? Most importantly, they represent the new, dynamic worker class. They are our youthful entrepreneurs and, to a great extent, the group that will determine the desirability and future success of our communities based on their social preferences. While the Baby Boomers drove the development of the suburbs, the Echo Boomers are echoing back with a more urban vibe. They show a preference for higher density living patterns where walking and biking play a bigger role in every day life. Walkability and convenient access to amenities are high on their list of characteristics that make for desirable living places.
The Millennials have their own particular view of what defines "Quality of Life. They value experiences over the acquisition of goods. They are active, enjoy the outdoors and are environmentally conscious. Why is this important to recognize? Because the communities that play to the desires of Generation Y are the communities that will flourish and remain vibrant in the future. They will be the places that attract the energy, ideas, young families, and new generation of wealth creation that will follow from Generation Y. Those communities that fail to respond will grow older, more sleepy and far less appealing. In the end, they will also be the communities that become less affluent, less attractive and less able to meet the needs of young families.
Newer, better amenities, more engaging activities, more green space, are all things that will serve to protect home values and create a better future for communities. For communities to prosper in the future, they should be planning for how to address the needs of Generation Y starting today.
Chuck Mineo is a principal in Gardens Group Development. Chuck has been passionate about community planning and development since his college days. It makes community oriented development a labor of love.