Americans are no longer flocking to the suburbs. Previous generations aimed for the suburban dream of a cookie-cutter four bedroom home and a minivan. The Millennial generation wants to keep an exciting urban lifestyle. What makes city living so appealing to Millennials?
As a Millennial, I enjoy the convenience of public transportation and value walkability. When I visit my family in the suburbs, I have to take a car to get to the grocery store and do basic errands, which I find annoying. Most roads in the suburbs are dangerous to walk on as they lack sidewalks. The lack of sidewalks and reliable form of public transportation in the suburbs make it nearly impossible to continue my urban lifestyle in my parents’ community.
But why can’t elements of the urban lifestyle come to the suburbs? The key to success for suburban developers lies in achieving the three basic needs of Millennials:
Younger generations want walkable locations because they value health and convenience. Millennials find it silly to take a car a mile down the street when one could walk or bike there and get some exercise while saving the earth. Suburban planners must develop roads that meet the needs of vehicles, pedestrians and bikers. Ugly strip malls should be revamped into destinations for residents to run errands, exercise, raise children, and socialize.
Some suburban towns have a bus system, but many residents refrain from using it because they don’t know about it, or because it is inconvenient and unreliable. Suburban planners need to make it easy for residents to use public transportation by dropping residents directly off at major destination points, displaying reliable bus schedules and creating mobile apps for riders to find public transportation information. Suburban planners need to stop allowing randomly placed buildings such as unhealthy fast-food restaurants, which are less popular among the Millennial generation, and start planning a well thought out mini-city.
Millennials crave the vibrant social life that exists in the city because there are more entertainment options: Open markets, music venues, unique coffee shops and places to explore. It seems that the only thing to do in suburbia for entertainment is drive a few miles to go eat at a chain restaurant and go to the movies. Millennials crave more character and unique experiences. Developers should focus on building communities, not just buildings.