In our constantly evolving world, the demands of young people are changing quickly. For organisations trying to service their needs, including accommodation providers like us, it is vital to observe the trends in how young people live and apply our own adaptations to accommodation to ensure we keep up with them and this fast moving, increasingly connected planet.
Just last month, research commissioned by the Department for Transport revealed that young people are driving less and less – a trend that doesn’t look set to reverse. Ongoing socio-economic changes in their lives are a key driver of this. The rise of lower-paid, zero hours jobs, leading to lower disposable incomes, teamed with growing numbers of young people flocking to the cities and starting a family later in life means owning a car just isn’t a priority for many. As such, a parking space is no longer a fundamental part of the shopping list when it comes to accommodation.
We’re also seeing fundamental changes in the way that people interact with friends and socialise. Online communication and social media contact is only growing and becoming prominent from a younger age; a recent statistic by Opinium said that children now own their first mobile phone by age seven and are browsing the internet by five. In addition, young people are becoming more and more involved in political and social activism – most of this being done online – meaning that service providers are increasingly at risk of bad sentiment online if they don’t work hard to keep customers happy.
These changes, and more, have led us to contemplate what this means for the housing sector and how it might be required to respond. It’s a well-accepted fact that young people will be buying much later than the generation before them. And for those who don’t have the option of living with their parents for longer, renting is going to be a much longer term solution.
As a result, we’re likely to see a rise in accommodation providers building developments with more facilities, such as onsite gyms, yoga classes, community events, common spaces, and even things like mobile applications and intranets where tenants can find out about what is going on that week in their building. Demand for these added bonuses within developments is likely to increase as tenants realise they are likely to be living in rental accommodation for much longer time periods, so require a more community feel from them.
In contrast, it’s also important to remember that, with increased competition, tenants always have the option to move on quicker – six month contracts are becoming increasingly commonplace – so all of these facilities become disposable as long as there is a competitor out there that is providing more.
We’ll also see more and more developments popping up in city centres as young people continue to favour proximity to on-demand services and products. On top of this, as we see increasing numbers of people flocking to the city centres, the geographical boundaries will naturally expand and suburbs will start to become more gentrified. Take places around Greater Manchester such as Monton and Levenshulme, for example. These traditional suburbs are becoming ‘cooler’, with the introduction of community events and more bars and restaurants, and as a result, there will be more demand for modern housing in these areas.
It is also likely that we will see a rise in tenants wanting to live in more eco-friendly ways in coming years, therefore housing developers will be increasingly looking to incorporate features to prove to tenants that they care about the eco-credentials of their buildings. These could include pollution reduction methods, solar panels, intelligent lighting and heating, water conservation, and recycling bins, which will not only make it easier for residents to make a difference, but could also lower energy costs.
We might also see more demand for features like secure bike sheds in housing developments as the popularity of cycling increases due to both environmental considerations and the eventual lack of cars on the road.
As the ways in which young people choose to live continue to change dramatically, housing developers must keep on top of these trends to ensure properties are meeting these demands.