But the millennials inhabiting high-tech, yet cozy student housing and apartments don’t have outsized space expectations. Over the next decade, their preference for the walkable convenience that often accompanies smaller living spaces will collide head on with their parents’ (and grandparents’) insatiable addiction for square footage.
Will millennials’ maturation force home builders to come up with walkable communities and smaller, more innovative homes that might, finally, kill the McMansion? Or will it lead millennials to make the decision to abandon walkability and convenience for more square footage?
No one really knows the answers to these questions, but trends demonstrate that Gen Yers—many of whom currently are living in student housing and apartments—have different expectations than the generations before them. Even if they eventually end up in single-family homes in the suburbs, their acceptance of efficient spaces might change the game for many builders. But without public policy changes and rethinking what home value really means, their preferences for efficient spaces may do little to cut square footage…
Despite these testimonials, even the most resolute urbanist wouldn’t proclaim that millennials are going to forever eschew the size and acreage of the suburbs to gather in cramped apartments in the city. For many, life will evolve, priorities will change, and the desire for a yard, more space, or a good school system for children will win out over having multiple trendy bars down the street…
Even if millennials do follow their parents’ path to the suburbs, many architects predict (and hope) that the efficient designs they’ve become accustomed to in college and apartments will follow them to their single-family home.
As noted elsewhere, no one really knows what will happen yet there are plenty of people with opinions and hopes. Give it a few years and decades to play out.
At the same time, even changing tastes among millennials as a group doesn’t necessarily mean the disappearance of McMansions. Millennials are unlikely to completely kill McMansions. Like now, there could still be a significant minority of that generation that still want McMansions and because of the higher profit margins with such homes, there will be builders ready to build them. Additionally, there will still be a lot of existing McMansions that, like other homes, will continue to generate sales and interest. Unless, of course, there is some sort of rapture for only McMansion owners – perhaps this is the sort of scenario those who dislike McMansions could get behind.