Millennial View

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ULI survey gathers key insights into region’s young residents

They prefer to ditch the car and walk, bike or take public transit to work. Almost half have advanced degrees. Most don’t have children and don’t expect to soon. They tend to rent apartments that come with roommates. And while they might want to buy a house someday, they don’t want to move to the suburbs.

They are the highly educated millennials of the Beltway.

A recent survey sponsored by the Urban Land Institute looked at young adults aged 20-37 who reside in Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland neighborhoods inside the Beltway.  The portrait reveals a population of high-income, highly educated young adults, who value walkable neighborhoods, public parks and transit.  And with the exception of their frustration with high housing costs, the millennials surveyed were generally satisfied with their neighborhoods, transportation options and living situations.

The online “survey of the willing” is not a representative sample, and it’s intended to provide baseline data for tracking trends over time.

Those who participated represent a highly educated slice of the population. Nearly nine of 10 surveyed had a bachelor’s degree or higher and nearly half had an advanced degree.

And these educated millennials want to stay. Sixty percent expect to remain in the beltway in the next three years, while another 20 percent are uncertain.  The most important things they look for when finding their next place to live are proximity to their jobs and walkable neighborhoods.

They tend not to like the housing expense in their desired neighborhoods. Two thirds rent and a quarter have roommates to help defray housing costs. And having roommates is not always a choice – 72 percent of those with roommates say they cannot afford to live alone.

Most renters would prefer to buy a home, but 58 percent believe that they will have to move outside the Beltway to be able to afford to buy.

The survey also identifies key inter-generational differences between millennials in their 20s and those in their 30s.  For example, nearly eight in 10 in their 20s were single, compared with only about half of those in their 30s.

And 77 percent in their 20s did not have children and did not plan on having children in the next three years, compared with 43 percent of millennials in their 30s.

But if they do decide to have children, they are inclined to stay put. Nearly half of all surveyed were open to raising their children inside the Beltway and another 30 percent said “maybe.”


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