By Janis Hennessy
Whether they came for college and stayed during their early career or relocated for work, deciding to leave a booming urban core to fulfill the dream of homeownership is a big change for many millennial homebuyers.
Yet, the 2017 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study found that 57 percent of millennials are purchasing in the suburbs. Here is what's luring them away from the city:
A 2018 realtor.com study found that 73 percent of recent homebuyers named "good school boundaries" as important criteria for their home search. The importance of quality schools applies not only to the district level, but to early childhood education, as well. In many urban communities, competition to secure quality preschool education is high, often driving people to explore the suburbs.
In smaller communities, there are more programs to choose from and parents often have access to a wider range of programs to set their children up for success in the classroom and beyond. When it comes time to enter the district, everything from test scores and extracurricular activities to the range of athletic programs influence where people decide to call home.
Walkability Is Key
Data from NAR shows 62 percent of millennials prefer living in walkable communities. Many suburban towns have vibrant downtowns, where residents can walk to quality restaurants, shops, cultural attractions and other amenities. This allows former city-dwellers to maintain the walkable lifestyle that many have become accustomed to while gaining the added perks that come with living in a smaller community.
Greenspaces are also an attractive feature for many millennial homebuyers. Having spent time in one or more cities and within walking distance to iconic parks, such as Manhattan's Central Park, the ability to walk to lush outdoor spaces can be alluring. Many of these parks have playgrounds, space for picnics and some even have pools. In New Canaan, Conn., locations such as Waveny Park are great gathering spaces to meet your neighbors and become more connected to your new community.
A Strong Sense of Community
While many folks that live in the city spend years in an apartment building where they never meet their neighbors, this often isn't the case for suburban communities. From activities for their children to events at community gathering spaces like parks and libraries, knowing one's neighbors is a perk for many suburban residents. Some communities even go so far as to organize Newcomers Clubs, where people who are new to town can meet one another and start building friendships that they'll carry throughout their time in town and beyond.
Making the homeownership leap represents a significant lifestyle shift for once city-dwelling millennials. With new responsibilities come new opportunities to explore the community, meet your neighbors and experience the amenities that made you say, "sold!"
Janis Hennessy is president of the New Canaan Board of REALTORS®. Home of Waveny Park, New Canaan, Conn., allows residents to experience a New England town with a style and sensibility all its own.