It doesn’t seem so long ago that the questions were about what baby boomers were all about and what they wanted in life. Currently the constant recurring questions are mostly about millennials. As with most everything in our consumer society the questions hover around money and marketing to the segments of society that have the potential of generating the largest volume of purchases.
Although I certainly cannot claim to be an expert on the “millennial enigma” I am in a very good position to express my thoughts. I happen to be the one writing this blog so whether I am right or wrong I get to say what I think. For those of you reading this that are in the 18-30 age group that is currently classified as millennials I absolutely welcome and desire your comments even if you think I am completely off-base.
Every human being is driven by something or a handful of somethings. I am convinced that the deepest craving of the human soul is for relationship, however, I also believe that my generation and several before me had other drives that suppressed and denied the innate craving for soul-level communion. For my generation we were well indoctrinated and able to follow the momentum created by two or more generations to do the “right things.” I won’t speak to the generations before me other than to say that they truly believed in that which drove them to the lives they lived but they also suppressed a deep relational pain and denied some critical inconsistencies in both beliefs and practices. It made for a “successful” life keeping a strong front of principle, ethics and morality and kept their children and grandchildren respecting them and yet deep down inside questioning the ultimate reality behind the beliefs and values.
All that said I am quite confident that the driving force in the millennial generation is similar to other movements in the past and is an anti-establishment movement that makes one more attempt in the history of humanity to find the solution to that deep need for relationship. The church family is not enough. Position and status in society and business are insufficient. Family is often complicated. Love life is a whole other confusing world of intrigue and chaos.
Somehow the rejection of the previous generations’ way of living has brought that universal pain out to the surface. At times the millennial’s goal seems to be to reject heritage and tradition while at other times the desire for truth in relationships is in clear evidence.
The unique element in the “millennial enigma” is the advent of online relationships and social media. Some of my generation and earlier generations would likely conclude that these technological advances are the problem with today’s society. I tend to disagree and contend that what is revealed today by these methods was present and active in my generation and before. The universal desire for intimacy as well as the universal reality of depravity have not changed. What changes is the expression of both conditions.
I enjoy conversing with millennials more than with my own generation. Is that a flaw in me or a good quality I don’t know but since it’s my blog I choose the latter. While it’s clear that the label of “me generation” is accurate, I consistently feel the relational pain that drives them to self-protection.
So, anyway, enough of the philosophizing. This is a real estate forum so how does this relate to whether a millennial will type in a search engine “house for sale in Warsaw Indiana” or “buy a home in Warsaw”? Ultimately, where do the millennials want to live? I have read many articles and found almost as many millennials to prove them wrong. I really don’t think we will be able to nail down the answer to that question to a specific list because I believe the answer emanates from a soul-level craving and therefore there will be a different way of satisfying that craving in every city, town, county, state and country.
Often the process of elimination remains as the only method to arrive at an accurate determination. I think we can eliminate a few things and narrow the field in our attempt to connect with millennials.
Clearly the foremost non-negotiable is access to the internet at a decent rate of speed. I don’t know that a millennial who wants to live off grid is ever going to willingly inhabit a region where they cannot “connect.”
Perhaps the second non-negotiable is their own space. That little piece of real estate that they can call exclusively theirs even if it is within their parent’s home.
Finally I believe that one of the most critical ingredients common to all millennial thought is the level of responsibility involved. Perhaps the level of pressure they lived under to maintain stress at a lesser roar for their parents has generated a rejection of responsibility at all levels.
How does this translate into real estate facts? Well, here are my thoughts. Perhaps the questions we need to ask in analyzing real estate as to desirability for millennials are not always the ones we are asking. Perhaps we need to evaluate how the home feels to them in the contexts of responsibility, privacy and connectivity. Some of our analysis might entail evaluating the size of the home in terms of the additional responsibility and effort that spaces create. Another question might be how much space is shared and how much is exclusive. We may need to create a his and hers concept in bathrooms even for married millennials. Installing campus wide WIFI or even a fiber optics internet connection could potentially be the ingredient that makes the deals of the future.
This is by no means a conclusive analysis of the “millennial enigma.” It is, however, a quest to search for the right questions that lead to the right answers and a better understanding of the generation that is rapidly becoming the men and women that drive everything in this nation and the world.