What Does Generation Y Want? Walkability and City Life

by Shilpi Paul

The findings of a recent study about Generation Y support what people have been saying for years: members of the group want to live in walkable neighborhoods (76 percent), in medium-to-large cities (40 percent), and close to shopping and dining options and their workplaces (62 percent).

The results came from an Urban Land Institute (ULI) report, “America in 2013“, that surveyed Americans across several generations and demographic groups.

54 percent of Generation Yers — a loosely applied label to people who were born between 1980 and 1990 — are also renters, which means many experts are watching them carefully as their next move could shape urban growth patterns. “On the whole, the survey suggests that demand will continue to rise for infill residential development that is less car-dependent, while demand could wane for isolated development in outlying suburb,” stated ULI.

In contrast to Gen Y, many members of Generation X (born between 1966 and 1978) favor single-family suburban neighborhoods, and don’t mind commuting by car (though most — 54 percent — would appreciate a shorter commute).

Overall, 61 percent of respondents stated that they would prefer a smaller home with a shorter commute over a larger home with a longer commute, and 53 percent want to live close to shopping options.

See other articles related to: urban land institute, generation y

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/what_does_generation_y_want_walkability_and_city_life/7074


  1. JM said at 2:40 pm on Thursday May 16, 2013:
    How can they draw such conclusions when they only surveyed 1,202 adults?
  1. found said at 2:57 pm on Thursday May 16, 2013:
    @JM, That actually seems like a pretty decent sample size to me.
  1. Marjee said at 3:12 pm on Thursday May 16, 2013:
    That size of that sample is just fine and knowing more about how they sampled could bolster their ability to generalize from the sample. None the less, this data corroborates numerous other studies and observations. It will be interesting to see what happens to suburban sprawl over the next few decades.
  1. BG said at 3:59 pm on Thursday May 16, 2013:
    What I don't like is the suburbanization of city life. I live in SW, and fear they are going to make it look just like National Harbor or Chinatown -- which pretty much look like Reston Town Center. It is possible to have walkable and keep the city feel, funk, and vibe. Cities need to be designed for all of the residents, and NOT just to attract tourists. I too want a walkable city life, but I want it to look and feel like a city, not just a more densely populated suburb.
  1. Josh said at 6:08 pm on Thursday May 16, 2013:
    Who did that drawing of downtown LA? It's great.
  1. jM said at 12:00 am on Friday May 17, 2013:
    But it sounds like 60% of GenY would prefer NOT to live in a medium-to-large city... so how does that jibe with the headline?
  1. Pat said at 3:06 pm on Friday May 17, 2013:
    It's surprising to see an organization which advocates for the expansion of more urban-like communities just happens to interpret that the results of a survey are in line with their goals. Sarcasm aside I think the ULI overstates their case a little bit. It's quite a bit easier to live the bohemian city life when you're single or married without children. Plus it appears that the survey controls for cost, which means that respondents are asked to choose between sets of choices with the assumption that costs are equal. We all know that cost is a primary driver of housing choice. Families living in the DC suburbs are getting a larger, newer, nicer home at less cost than what it is in the city. Transportation costs rise, along with longer commute times, but these are trade-offs and distinctions which the survey cannot account for.
  1. Alan B. said at 4:30 pm on Friday May 17, 2013:
    I know lots of married couples with kids that live in cities. They seem to like it just fine. And of course living in a city doesn't mean you're necessarily on the 10th floor of a high rise. There are plenty of row homes and garden apartments.

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