Gen Yers are motivated by experiences (in an experience economy), not consumption, or home size. Smaller homes and apartments are both less expensive and easier to maintain, leaving more time and money for enjoying those experiences.
For Gen Yers, driving isn’t part of the American Dream anymore. Being connected is. That means walkable and transit-oriented, and that means downtowns and cities. Also, as far as connecting face-face, town squares and piazzas are the ultimate connectors in the built environment, especially with outdoor movies/dining/concerts in them.
The shift from house to neighborhood, and from buying to renting, is driven by a number of factors--from delaying marriage, to academic debt, to persistent unemployment.
They haven’t built up their wealth to buy yet, and with the economic downturn, 30% are unemployed. School debt is also much larger, averaging $23,000, and banks now loan to people that can actually pay them back. It also means sharing apartments via multiple bedrooms to split the rent. They’re also delaying marriage, so no single-family suburban home with white picket fence.
People who live in walkable communities are more socially engaged and trusting than those who live in less walkable areas, says a new study from the University of New Hampshire....The researchers scored 700 residents of three communities in New Hampshire on measures of "social capital" such as socializing with friends, civic engagement and trust in their community. They found those in neighborhoods with higher Walk Score ratings reported being happier and healthier and more apt to volunteer, work on community projects or simply entertain friends at home.