Understanding the Millennial generation is going to prove exceptionally important to South Dakota as we continue to combat our workforce shortage. Millennials will soon make up a majority of the workforce, and we will need to cater to their wants and needs if we hope to attract and retain them. Unfortunately, in addition to this workforce shortage, we are simultaneously combating an affordable housing shortage. There is no doubt Millennials differ from previous generations immensely in their values, and housing is certainly one of them. How can we ask people to move here if we do not offer affordable, desirable, places to live? Ensuring we have housing that is not only open and available, but actually meets the preferences of the market, is paramount to successfully recruiting and retaining tomorrow’s workforce, today.
Falling into this category myself, I am going to use myself to generalize the whole populace of Millennials for purposes of this article. Other Millenials may agree or disagree with my perspective, but that’s okay because these are merely generalizations. I agree with much of this article from James Hardie regarding Millennials in the housing market. (not trying to push a specific product…it’s just a good article in overall) It hits on three major preferences when it comes to Millennial housing: low maintenance, prime location, and smart home technology.
When it comes to our homes, most of us do not enjoy complex, time-consuming projects. Rather, we enjoy being able to personalize our space in a relatively short time. That way, we have more availability to spend outside of our home, whether that be going out to eat, grabbing a drink with a friend, traveling the world, etc. Being locked down to fix a leaky pipe, mow the lawn, repaint the exterior, or rake the leaves does not sound all that appealing. The less of our time and money we need to spend on our home, the better.
We tend to decide where in a city we want to live rather than simply finding the “perfect house”. The house itself may be beautiful, but if it does not have easy access to our favorite activities, we are willing to wait a bit longer and look elsewhere. If there is one take away from this: if you are trying to attract the Millennial market, don’t build rows of houses simply to satisfy the growing population numbers. It will take more thought and care in where to build the housing in order to capture this elusive market. In other words, if you build it, we won’t necessarily come.
We are the first generation to be classified as “digital natives” because we have grown up being surrounded, and often engulfed, by technology. We expect technology to be ingrained in our everyday lives, and this is no exception when it comes to our homes. Having homes that are equipped, or at least have the ability to be equipped, with the latest tech (i.e. smart thermostats, washers/dryers, light bulbs, etc.) can be a major selling point.
One topic that the article from James Hardie does not hit on however is size and use of space. We tend to prefer experiences over things, and this drives us to look for smaller, more efficient houses that do not offer space simply for the sake of space. More space equals more to clean, maintain, and eventually….clutter. We don’t always see the value in five hundred more square feet just because it’s there. We don’t care whose is bigger.
In the end, we are looking for an affordable place to personalize, make our own, and rest our head. After all, if we’re not at home, we are probably out socializing, traveling, or simply experiencing life.
What are your thoughts? Do you see South Dakota cities making an effort to create a marketable product for the next generation, or are there areas we can improve? Please share below!
Josh Muckenhirn, AIA is a licensed Architect at ISG in Sioux Falls, SD. He received his M. Arch from NDSU in 2014, ventured further north for 2 years, and has called Sioux Falls home since the summer of 2016. His claim to fame is (at one point) being able to solve a Rubik’s cube in 32 seconds.