Gen Y and Housing: What They Want and Where They Want It

Gen Y and Housing

New ULI report shows Gen Y living frugally in more affordable locations, sharing housing with friends and family.

Contrary to popular belief, most Millennials are not living the high life in the downtowns of large cities, but rather are living in less centrally located but more affordable neighborhoods, making ends meet with jobs for which many feel overqualified, and living with parents or roommates to save money, according to a new report from ULI. Still, despite their current lifestyle constraints, most are optimistic about the odds for improving their housing and financial circumstances in the years ahead.

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Gen Y and Housing: What They Want and Where They Want It, looks at the behavior of Generation Y now that many have entered the housing and job market, as well as the lingering effects of the Great Recession on Gen Y’s ability to get ahead, and the impact this is having on where they are living, either by choice or necessity.

Key Findings

  • Only 13 percent of Gen Yers live in or near downtowns; 63 percent live in the other city neighborhoods or in the suburbs.
  • Fifty percent are renters, paying a median rent of $925.
  • Twenty-one percent currently live at home, and of those, 42 percent moved back home after living independently. Only 10 percent of those now living at home expect to still be there in five years.
  • Fourteen percent live in households with three generations of family members.
  • Eighteen percent of all Millennials and 27 percent who rent share housing with roommates. However, 58 percent of those with roommates would prefer to live alone.
  • Sixty percent work full-time and an additional 15 percent work part-time; however, 27 percent feel they are underemployed.
  • Thirty-eight percent consider themselves savers; 30 percent, spenders; and 32 percent say they are both.
  • Eighty-three percent own automobiles (lowest percentage of owners, 74 percent, are in the Northeast; highest, 88 percent, are in the South).
  • Virtually all expect to own a home eventually, even though they are not necessarily convinced that housing is a good investment.
  • Nine out of ten expect to match or exceed their parents’ economic circumstances.

The report, written by ULI Trustee M. Leanne Lachman, president of Lachman Associates LLC in New York City, and Deborah L. Brett, founder of Deborah L. Brett and Associates in Plainsboro, New Jersey, is based on a survey conducted in November 2014 of 1,270 members of Gen Y (Millennials), aged 19 to 36. It is a follow-up to ULI’s 2011 report Generation Y: America’s New Housing Wave, which also examined the housing choices of this generation.

ULI wishes to acknowledge and express gratitude for the generous support of UDR Inc. in making this report possible. Both Tom Toomey, president and CEO, and Jerry Davis, senior vice president and chief operating officer, enthusiastically engaged in considering new study areas as well as how to revisit questions from the 2011 report.

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