Entering the world as a young recent college graduate can be an unnerving experience. You’ve just left an epicenter of comradery and a world where you lived around like-minded individuals who were the same age as you. With or without a job, you have many life decisions to make and many options to consider when it comes to your living situation. But there is one question that you must ask yourself and that is, “How do I pay for a place to live while balancing my finances appropriately?” Imagine a world where all of the questions and concerns about your living situation could be answered in a compact, amenity filled, centralized location. When it comes to the future of affordable housing for millennials, the answer is the “millennial village”.
Last year, The Boston Foundation and Northeastern University published The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2014-2015. The report details how the Boston housing market has evolved over the past year and within it, discusses the effect that millennials are having on the city. “Millennial villages” are mentioned as a viable option to combat the housing crisis with the authors proposing 10,000 or more micro-units to be constructed in the city. The millennial village is the idea that people between the ages of 20-34 can live in a dorm-style apartment complex in what is referred to as a micro-unit, or a smaller version of an apartment at a more reasonable price. Similar to “coliving” developments like WeLive, which is being piloted by communal office space pioneer WeWork, micro-units emphasize a sense of community over the size of the space where a tenant lays his or her head at night. It’s similar to residence hall life in college, but more grown-up. Instead of not knowing your neighbors, everyone interacts and communicates in these “millennial villages.”
As millennials, we are a generation of people who live very active lives outside of the home; the need for large, sometimes unmanageable apartments is not necessary and therefore, a smaller unit might be more suitable. Let’s make simplify this idea even more. I’m 23 years old, I work six days a week, at night I’m seeing friends, going to the gym, or going out. On my one day off, I want to hang out, relax, and maybe sleep in (if I’m lucky). Why would I want to spend my free time cleaning a big apartment, when I could be out enjoying life instead? That’s the beauty of the micro-unit; it’s everything you want in an apartment without unnecessary space.
Massachusetts’ housing market is facing the major problem of not having enough affordable housing for families. This is attributed to the fact that millennials are renting housing that were initially designed for families. By creating these millennial villages, families will be able to move into houses and apartment complexes that were originally designed and built for them. Subsequently, future generations entering the “real world,” will have an affordable housing option and therefore will be able to save more money.
Who knows, a future millennial village might even be the home of some individuals who create the next big thing, like Google or Facebook. This is an exciting time to be a millennial and a project such as a millennial village may restore some balance to Boston’s white-hot apartment market.
Want to learn more about coliving? Check out SM& Vice President Jon Pappas’ blog post on the debut of WeLive.