Attracting and retaining Gen Z and Millennials means apartment managers must provide living experiences that meet their health-focused ideals.
From an influx of Instagram-worthy acai bowls to the rise in boutique fitness memberships, Millennials are leaving behind a granola trail of evidence to showcase their unwavering dedication to long-term health and wellness goals.
This health-conscious attitude is expected to create major rippling effects across industries, affecting not only vitamin shops and sparkling water companies, but also seemingly unrelated industries, such as rental housing. To prepare for this Fitbit-wearing army to become the nation’s largest generation by 2028, property managers and developers must adjust their rental offerings to cater to new lifestyle expectations. Following are five improvements property management professionals can make right now to boost their communities.
Meet Fitness Expectations
The fitness industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, changing from a predominantly solo excursion on a treadmill to a largely interactive experience in a classroom. With classes such as aerobics, cardio and strength training also acting as opportunities for socialization, successful fitness centers often serve Millennials on more than one level. Yoga studios, for example, are one of the most popular amenities prospective residents ask for when searching for apartments. This is because they not only offer opportunities for exercise, but they also cater to Millennial interests in stress-reduction, harmonious living and spirituality.
According to a new study from sports and nutrition firm My Protein, Millennials will spend more money on lifetime fitness goals than on college tuition. Unlike Gen-Xers, who are content with the ellipticals offered at their local gym, this group will spend extra money to have specialized studio experiences that offer social atmospheres akin to dance clubs.
To capitalize on this trend, property managers should provide fitness opportunities that double as social engagements. Whether it’s sponsoring an apartment-based team for the local 5K race or offering discounts to a nearby fitness studio, properties that embrace Millennials’ social motivations for exercise will find more success than those that only offer outdated basement gyms.
Allocate Space for Common Areas, Co-Work Spaces and Social Events
Research has shown that Millennials are an experiential generation, preferring the moment over tangible items. Growing up with computers, cell phones and social media, these tech-savvy individuals know that online interactions do not replace face-to-face communication. For this reason, Millennials are constantly looking for opportunities to share their experiences.
It’s no surprise that apartment buildings with public areas—such as rooftop terraces, open lobbies and workspaces— are increasing in value faster than ever. Additionally, Millennials are becoming more aware of their surrounding downtown areas, with the presence of popular coffee shops and smoothie cafés significantly improving building appeal and perceived value. Property owners are advised to take advantage of this communal preference by encouraging social gatherings in and around the apartment community. This can be done in a variety of ways, from sponsoring movie and game nights to bringing in local talent and experts to create shared neighborhood experiences.
Create Sound-Proof Walls & Quiet Spaces
Even though Millennials crave social activities and events, these young residents also want a quiet place for themselves. As displayed through the recently booming trend of micro-living, Millennials are increasingly opting for small, personalized spaces with intelligent designs over crowded apartments with three other roommates. This is because Millennials consistently choose location over size of space. With stress levels positively correlated with constant email and text checking, this always-on demographic longs for a small, quiet retreat that offers comfortable lighting and sound attenuation.
Research from Village Green found 91 percent of renters want an apartment with sound-proof walls, a feature that outranked other, more traditional amenities such as pools, clubhouses and theater rooms. Knowing this preference for peaceful living, apartment developers and property managers can design buildings to emulate Millennials’ holistic approach toward achieving physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Ensure Environmentally-Friendly Surroundings
In addition to their many other identifying qualities, Millennials are known for being the most environmentally educated generation, having grown up experiencing reports of climate change first-hand. Notably, health concerns, such as toxic materials and indoor air quality, consistently outranked other decision factors when it came to purchase influence, perceived value and positive brand impact of living conditions, according to new findings released by UL Environment.
In addition to expecting up-to-code buildings, Millennials now want their apartment communities to be as environmentally conscious as they are. Their wish-lists are not limited to solar panels, electric-car charging stations, on-premise ride-sharing programs, smart thermostats, compost bins and energy-efficient mechanical systems. With a focus on maintaining a sustainable future, Millennials are demanding a similar forward-thinking mentality from the places where they live.
Optimize for Modern, Urban Living Goals
In addition to the aforementioned changes, Millennials are also altering the rental housing industry by leading the charge in what is now being dubbed the “Bike and Dog Revolution.” With droves of Millennials moving into cities, this cohort is actively choosing low-maintenance, urban-based experiences that exist in walkable, bikeable or transit-oriented locations. At a minimum, they expect residential communities to offer biking storage spaces and ride-sharing opportunities.
Most Millennial residents are not married, and many opt for pets over children. This marks a huge business opportunity for animal grooming services and exclusive recreational areas. By appealing to renters’ love for their furry friends, property managers can reallocate resources for allow for enticing pet luxuries, including in-house doggy daycares, on-the-premises parks and even valet waste-disposal services.
The Millennial Way
To attract and retain kombucha-drinking, yoga-pant-wearing residents, rental housing professionals must provide living experiences that live up to Millennials’ health-focused ideals. By recognizing their comprehensive approach to nutrition, fitness, stress-reduction, spirituality, environmental safety and social wellbeing, property managers and developers can rework their rental incentives to provide Millennials with living experiences as authentic and organic as kale smoothies.
Diane Batayeh is the CEO of Village Green.
Read the extended article "Creating a Culture That Engages and Retains Millennials"