As a millennial, I’m told a lot about what I want. Panelists at year-end or year-beginning forecast-networking-events explain to me and my multi-generational colleagues that I want to be walking distance to a train station, and surrounded by friends, and that I value experiences over things. Accurate. They tell me that I am young, industrious, educated, adventurous, and I have certain needs called amenities.
If you really want to attract millennials to your buildings, you need amenities. If I had a dollar for every time someone mentioned how important amenities are for my generation, I might have enough money to actually afford a place with these amenities. Did someone just start saying, “Here’s what the kids want.”? Do a google search for “amenities” and “Millennials”, and you come up with a that reeks of pretentiousness.
If you’re a millennial, here’s what you’re looking for in your new place:
- Retail-style walk-in closets. Notice the “s” at the end of “closet”. Indicating the plural: not just one walk-in closet, multiple walk-in closets. I have friends who actually have a walk-in closet — it’s called their apartment they pay a thousand dollars a month for it.
- Roof deck swimming pool. Nice. My friend’s friend lives in a building that has one of these. You make reservations for the roof, which sounds fantastic. He told her that no one ever uses it.
- Fitness center. Who doesn’t want to get swoll? Who doesn’t want to run into that cute girl in 27B while you’re doing some curls? You get home from a long day, you change in your own room, you take the elevator downstairs to a health club-quality gym in your own lobby You never leave.
- Coffee shop. What a country. The coffee shop is also in the building. You don’t ever have to go outside! And you pay for the coffee, but it’s a perk to living in the cool new exclusive and millenial-centric apartment. Don’t go! Stay here.
- Laundry service. Millennials are people of the people. Which is why we need other people to do our laundry. And the best part is you don’t have to leave the building! Because if you do, someone will find out about you going outside.
- Business center/co-working space. I used to work at home, and for anyone who has worked at home, you know that getting to the outdoors is an important part of the day. The live-work-play-in-your-own-building is tough, mentally. Getting outside, learning what the weather is today, seeing the sky, walking to a cafe, riding a bike to the gym, reading in a human-park — these are all things I looked forward to.
- Movie Theaters in building. Never. [echoing] Ever. Ever. Ever. Leave…leave…leave.
- Dog Park on the roof. Or in the lobby. Or wherever. Woof. Our country is in trouble: we are dangerously close to running out of dogs. We need more dogs.
None of the “millennial amenities” matter to me. Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but maybe I’m not. These amenities are excessive, they go unused, they add an expense that stamps new apartments with a luxury brand, and keeps out people who they are marketed to. It’s a lie.
This luxury life sounds familiar: buy what you can’t afford, impress people, and finally, you’ll feel confident. This is every advertisement ever, and it’s classic Baby Boomer lifestyle. Baby Boomers, who talk about the collective “buying power of Millenials”, tend to treat our generation like a massive stack of money. (Baby Boomers, by the way, created Millennials — this seems to be forgotten when complaining about us. We didn’t just happen.)
The status that Baby Boomers care so much about — the kind of car you drive, the brand of TVs you own, the size of your house, the number of houses you have, where you vacation, etc., is all present in these towering gated communities. They aren’t literally gated like the one my grandparents used to live in, but they ensure a uniform clientele — an exclusivity that is maintained by prohibitive prices.
But what am I complaining about! I mean, we build these things. We build housing that I can’t afford to live in, and it’s supposed to be for me. Isn’t it ironic? Just a bit? Are we sure this isn’t the wish-list of Baby Boomers looking to retire soon? A little toooo Ironic. I was at a committee meeting last night in a room filled with 30 young people who work in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry. I don’t believe that everyone in that room is making so much more money than me. So who lives in these places? I don’t know. I don’t care.
Keep the pools and the gyms and laundry service. If I go to a friend’s place, the first thing I notice is the kitchen. Oh you’ve got a dishwasher? Fantastic! Let’s call that an amenity. You have in-unit washer and drier? That’s luxury. I’m into that life. Let me walk to the cafe. Let me jog to the gym. Stop trying to make everything so easy. If it really is for the 20 and 30-somethings, maybe try to make it something they can afford.