Millennials Begin To Embrace The Suburbs. What Does It Mean For Commercial Real Estate

January 7, 2020

The Migration Has Started.

Chicago’s suburban landscape is on the brink of noticeable transformation, as many in the Millennial generation move toward embracing a shift away from an urban environment. This is capturing the attention of commercial real estate owners, tenants and investors, as they create strategies and develop projects that align with the likes, beliefs, and mindsets of this coveted population group.

This population base includes many who were delayed in making key life stage decisions, such as age of entry into the workplace, marriage and having children. These delays have created the need for change in several sectors of a marketplace and economy that has been geared toward historical behaviors of previous generations.

With the dawn of 2020 brings a need to more closely examine where millennials are heading, as many are nearing forty and are now well-established in careers and significant life relationships. The choices they made in their twenties may not dictate their future direction.

Urban cores have benefited from the young professionals who have stayed longer, whether out of necessity or desire, for the amenity-rich tech-enabled landscape and convenience of the transit-dependent/shared-economy oriented lifestyle that has been designed specifically for them. Companies have moved headquarters from the suburban markets into city centers, redefining cultures and campuses, to attract this newest, and largest, segment of the workforce.

Recent census data shows a shifting in that migration and a more positive outlook for suburban population growth going. According to PBS, large U.S. cities showed a decline in the millennial population in 2018, for the fourth consecutive year. Despite convenience and the perks of an urban environment, the majority of younger generations will marry and/or procreate and for many the shift that comes with those decisions will drive suburban growth.

Chicago’s dense transit-centric suburbs have an opportunity to reinvent themselves to capitalize on this movement. This shifting millennial mindset gives way for existing property owners and developers to revitalize existing assets or embark on new engaging mixed-use redevelopments to meet the needs of the population they are hoping to attract. This trend is one to watch for 2020 and beyond, as it has the potential to create significant change in retail spaces, office environments, and the housing sector, among other areas.

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