THE NEW KIDSin town

Recent study reveals what millennials want from
a neighborhood

Millennials—a group of roughly 72 million Americans born between 1980 and 1998—are a wildly diverse generation with a vast range of experiences, dreams and preferences. And nowhere is that heterogeneity more striking than among millennials who are purchasing their first home, a milestone that’s not only a huge financial decision, but also a deeply personal one.

There is so much nuance in what makes a particular buyer and their home click. And for many millennials, factors like their future neighborhood’s location, walkability and pet-friendliness are crucial when it comes to settling somewhere permanently.

To explore what millennials, diverse as they are, want most when purchasing their first homes, The Washington Post BrandStudio and the National Association of REALTORS® teamed up to understand what millennials are looking for when it comes to choosing a neighborhood. The findings reveal priorities that are, in many ways, unquantifiable—which is why even tech-savvy millennials benefit from working with REALTORS®, members of the National Association of REALTORS®, rather than simply combing through data on websites and apps.

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0%
of millennials


prefer neighborhoods with other residents who share their interests

0%
of millennials


look to live in areas with parks, walking paths, and other recreational activities

0%
of millennials


seek out neighborhoods that allow them to easily work from home

At the top of millennials’ desired traits in a neighborhood is an easy commute—some 56 percent of millennials surveyed said it was a “very important” factor in their home search, much higher than any other age cohort in the study. And 32 percent of millennials said they are looking for a place where they could easily work from home—a number that will likely grow as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform the nature and scope of remote work in this country. As those millennials navigate an uncertain world, and embark on a new phase in their life, they are looking to buy into homes and neighborhoods that allow them a sense of flexibility and work-life balance, day to day.

The millennials surveyed were also far more likely than baby boomers to say they want to live in a neighborhood that offers plenty of community-based activities, like block parties and service opportunities. They want neighborhoods that are up-and-coming, too, and offer a growing number of shops, restaurants and housing options. And in a sign that many millennial home buyers are settling down, more than half of those surveyed said that buying in an area with “great schools” was a top priority.

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0%
of millennials


say REALTORS® are the best source on the future of neighbohoods

0%
of millennials


need a home and a community that is pet-friendly

0%
of millennials


want to live near interesting stores and restaurants

All of these traits indicate that millennial homebuyers aren’t just looking for a house or an apartment. They’re also seeking a particular lifestyle, the exact contours of which depend so much on their particular aspirations and needs.

But data doesn’t tell the whole story behind what millennials want from a neighborhood. Real-life perspectives from actual homebuyers—as well as the real estate agents who are also REALTORS® that guide those purchases—give clues into how this generation is choosing where they live.