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The Old-Fashioned Home-Buying Trend Millennials Are *Finally* Embracing

Millennials and their grandparents (AKA the Silent Generation, born from 1928 to 1945) have plenty to debate at the family dinner table. Between peaceful parenting, the need for a home gym and the believability of Virgin River, there’s bound to be one person rolling their eyes at all times. But we’re not here to rock the boat any further, and a recent study from the National Association of Realtors found that the home buying preferences of Millennials actually mirror those of the Silent Generation. Namely, 30-somethings today are moving from cities to suburbs in order to have shorter commutes and be closer to family.

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WHAT’S LEADING THIS TREND?

Much like the Silent Generation, who had a desire to settle down after the tumult of the 1930s and early 1940s, Millennials are prioritizing family, friends and community over the hustle and bustle of their pre-COVID existence. The study found that 53 percent of homebuyers between the ages of 22 to 29 cited proximity to family and friends as a high priority, and 33 percent of home sellers aged 74 to 94 said the primary reason for selling their previous home was to move closer to friends and family. And this is quite the pivot from the previous generations’ homebuying trends, which placed an emphasis on location, size and design features. According to the report, Gen Xers (born from 1965-1979) purchased the largest, most expensive single-family homes at a median home price of $320,000, and were most likely to move for a job relocation or work-related opportunity. The study also cited that Boomers (born from 1946-1964) purchased the newest homes on average and typically moved the furthest distance at a median of 35 miles.

Long story short? It looks like Millennials are breaking the ‘generational mold’ by prioritizing quality family time and mental health over 2-hour commutes and new quartzite countertops. After two years of ‘FaceTimes with grandma,’ Millenials are realizing that life’s too short to be miles away from the people they love most.

WHY DID THE SILENT GEN DO THIS?

The Silent Generation’s post-Great Depression mentality centered around one idea: rebuilding systems for a brighter future. “[The Silents] experienced the Great Depression as children and had stood by during WWII, too young to fight or help. They also experienced the initial difficulties following WWII and wanted to make life better for their children. They focused on security, building families, and achieving the American dream of home ownership and good jobs,” explains Professor Denise Ann Bodman in a keynote address to the Eleventh Annual Emeritus College Symposium. In other words, suburbia acted as an oasis for Silents, who needed to mourn loved ones they’d lost in the war and recover from the economic turmoil that came before them. And, much like today’s 20-and 30-somethings, they moved in the hopes of a fresh start—somewhere they could settle down, start a family and rebuild connections they’d lost.

BUT BACK TO TODAY, WHERE ARE THESE SUBURBS LOCATED?

Michael Hendrix, director of state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute, says, “Where Millennials choose to settle down will define the future of America’s metros. And the future winners look much like the past winners: Sun Belt metros with good job markets and more-affordable housing,” according to Governing.com. Think: Mountain states like Colorado, Utah and Arizona, and warm weather suburbs like Dallas and Austin in Texas, Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina and Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami in Florida. Not only are these locations brimming with new construction builds and top-rated school systems, (which are a must-have for many first-time home buyers) but they’re chock-full of retirement communities for older family members who’d prefer warmer climates. “These are the ‘have-it-all hubs’— growing metros where you can have a good career, afford a home and raise your family,” Hendrix says.

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