Younger Residents Driving Development Decisions

The Millenial generation is dictating development trends, and cities are listening. What do they want?

What Happened?

Two recent studies indicate millennials are interested in living in walkable cities where public transit is easily accessible and school systems are strong. City decision makers are starting to note the preferences of this age group, as more millennials start to invest in housing markets based on these criteria.

The Goal

According to a recent study from the Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America, 80 percent of Millennials – adults born between 1982 and 2003 – want to live in cities with a variety of options for employment, school and daily accommodations such as access to transportation.

Because many millennials are tech-savvy and in-tune with the latest trends, the Atlantic Cities argues this generation wants to invest in more efficient land use, green technology and clean energy transportation. The cities listening to and attracting the most Millennials include New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boulder and Austin. The study found of Millennials:

  • 75 percent would live in a city where they do not need a car and want other options available such as bus, train and bike
  • 54 percent would consider moving to another city if it had better transit options
  • 66 percent consider access to efficient, high-quality transportation as a top three criteria
  • 70 percent currently do not have access to a personal vehicle and could not afford to live somewhere without public transportation
  • 91 percent believe investing in quality public transportation systems increases jobs and boosts the economy

To get some context, the American Planning Association surveyed both Millennials and Baby Boomers to learn about the preferences of both generations and what criteria they plan to invest in. Despite the age difference, both generations are interested in living in cities with new transportation options, walkable communities and beautified green space. Cities more focused on attracting new companies to the area are scoring low for both Millennials and Baby Boomers. The results revealed:

  • 65 of all respondents believe investment in schools, transit and walkable areas will improve the local economy
  • 74 percent of Millennials said attracting new businesses by investing in schools, transit and walkable areas is better than recruiting companies
  • 59 percent of all respondents said shared economies such as communal car-sharing is important to them
  • 75 percent want to live in a city with a plan to address changing conditions and emergencies
  • 60 percent of all respondents said it is important that they have the ability to age in place
  • 59 percent of all respondents feel technologically enabled sharing services are at least somewhat important to them as well as empowering an economically sustainable community


The Atlantic Cities analyzed both surveys and extracted some key points for municipal leaders to consider. To attract the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations, cities must invest in energy-efficient transportation options with a long-term strategy to continually innovate and maintain. Having entered the professional community only to be met with an economic recession, many millennials consider the cost of living a huge factor when deciding where to live next. Making affordable necessities available and built into city development strategies will be key to population growth and economic activity in the future.

Tomorrow’s Decision Makers

Gov1 has reported on many trends in population demographical shifts that are impacting development plans.

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