How to Talk to Millennials about Walkability

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Millennials are a notoriously difficult-to-impress bunch when it comes to marketing, and yet they represent a growing percentage of the renting population. It's more important now than ever for apartment owners and property managers to understand what matters to this generation, and a good place to start is walkability. (And walkability is about more than just walking – it's about being able to go where you want to go easily and without always relying on a car, whether that means riding a bike, taking the train, or old-fashioned walking.)


Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, own fewer cars and drive less often than previous generations. They'd rather be on their phones or tablets than behind the wheel, and are opting to walk, bike, car-share and use public transportation more than ever before. In fact, in a recent study, four out of five millennials said that opportunities to live and work without relying on a car are important considerations when choosing where to live, and three out of four said they're likely to choose to live where they don't need a car to get around. As many as one third of them are willing to pay more for this ability to easily walk to shops, work and entertainment. 


A recent study from McGill University showed that people who walk or bike to work are happier with their commutes than people who drive, so it's not surprising that having a short commute to work is one of the most important considerations in deciding where to live. But that's not all that matters - a quick walk or ride to neighbourhood amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants and parks also can be a major draw. Neighbourhoods that are fun, diverse, convenient, and social inevitably attract more Millennials. 


Apartment owners and property managers who understand what matters to Millennials can tailor their message to this younger demographic. More and more, prospective renters are thinking beyond the four walls of the apartment, and we should be doing the same in our communications. Remember to talk about your neighbourhood-if your building is across from a great restaurant or park, those are things many renters want to know about. Even if you aren't in a densely populated area, people still want to hear about that coffee shop down the street, where they can find the nearest grocery store, or whether there's an awesome bike trail in the area. 


Of course, listing properties on Walk Score Apartment Search is a great way to reach renters looking for walkable neighbourhoods, and including the Walk Score of your community in your marketing materials helps communicate to them what makes your area special.


Beyond how you communicate to this demographic, also think about how to include features that make your building friendlier for residents opting for a car-lite lifestyle. For one thing, un-bundling parking costs from rent helps make your building more competitively priced for those who don't have cars. And providing a bike repair room or free bike storage is a great way to encourage a healthier lifestyle and to attract this new generation of renters.


Let me know what you think @jherst on Twitter.


Tip: Promote your vacancies on Walk Score using RentSync