Tysons Corner, Va.—What is Gen Y looking for when they rent? MHN talks to Rohit Anand, principal, KTGY Group Inc., about how Gen Y differs from previous renters and how the design of apartment communities is changing to reflect Gen Y’s needs and wants.
MHN: How does Gen Y differ from previous generations in terms of what they look for in rentals?
Anand: Gen Y is arguably more social than any previous generation—and they really want to hang out with their friends. This generation has a propensity to stay connected 24/7 and employ multiple electronic devices to do so.
Proximity to work and play is paramount. Urban areas with culture and suburbs with a ‘there’ and served by mass transit are most desirable. They are less likely to stay, cook or socialize in their apartment units. They enjoy socializing in semi-private amenities and look for urban areas with culture and nightlife. Gen Y is also not in the prime earning years, so affordability is extremely important. They also expect sustainability.
MHN: What are the top amenities Gen Y looks for?
Anand: Gen Y is looking to connect with people. Spaces that facilitate this have become popular. We have gone away from enclosed spaces. We are learning from hospitality and are designing spaces inspired by hotel lobbies that have multiple spaces for hanging out. Even a space like a theater room is now a flat screen TV with couches located within a lounge. “Membership quality” fitness center and location are top priorities.
MHN: How are developers taking these Gen Y wants in consideration when developing new communities?
Anand: Developers, and their financial partners have focused on urban infill projects near mass transit or suburban areas with easy access to restaurants and shopping. Units have become smaller; less parking is acceptable.
MHN: What amenities are no longer important to the Gen Y renters?
Anand: It’s not so much that amenity preferences have changed, it is more that Gen Y does not like the amenities separated into different rooms. They want more opportunities to hang out. The unit size is not as important anymore.
Additionally, I would proffer that some niche amenities have become more popular. We are designing in bike storage and repair shops, pet wash areas, doggie runs, vegetable garden boxes and spa massage, plus yoga/Pilates/Zumba areas.
MHN: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Anand: Gen Y is attracted to projects that “get it.” They want spaces that are designed to facilitate interaction. Design matters to Gen Y, and we are finding that well-designed buildings targeted at Gen Y are attracting much older renters as well who have an appreciation for design.
We are not seeing a lot of three-bedroom units, they are primarily studios and one-bedroom apartments. Also, I compare the basic apartment units to a smartphone—you can buy the apps you want and customize.