Where Do Generations Want to Live?

Filed in Economics by on August 21, 2019 2 Comments

For millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers and seniors, suburban living still rules, according to a recent study by NAHB economists.

A 2018 survey on home location preferences found that older generations show less desire to live in a central city, and a stronger desire to live in outlying and close-in suburbs.

The survey found that all four generations reflected a combined majority preference for outlying or close-in suburban homes, with the preference steadily growing from the youngest to the oldest generations.

Looking at millennial preferences over time, there is a clear drop in the desire to live in the suburbs and a sharp increase in desire to live in the central city. In contrast, older generations have generally demonstrated an increasing preference for the suburbs over time.

Although millennials’ location preferences are generally similar to older generations in the earlier surveys, their increased preference for a central city location in the more recent surveys appears unique. The allure of city living for millennials jumped from 6% in 2007 to 23% in 2018.

Although the combined total preference for living in the suburbs (outlying or close-in) still outweighs the other locations for millennials, it is not as pronounced as other generations.

Another trend is evident in what millennials would accept to make their homes more affordable: Their willingness to accept a smaller house is increasing, as is their readiness to accept a smaller lot.

View the complete study.


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  1. CT says:

    The interesting question is how will that preference change the next 20 years. Will the desire to be more central continue or will more millennials having children and having those children reach middle school age reverse that trend? Also to what extent is this an idealistic desire vs the realism that I’ve seen set in with my friends (we’re all millennials) that, at least in Denver, buying a home means not just suburbs, but the least desirable suburbs and it seems they’re all choosing the single-family home out there rather than the condo/townhome closer in. But that could be a local anomaly caused by the construction defects law making condo construction extremely rare and thus a massive undersupply of condos.

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