Millennials have risen to become the largest demographic section in North America.
With more and more millennials approaching the age of 40, this section of the population is ready to take the world by storm. Whether it’s business, sports, or politics, millennials are everywhere.
However, for a generation that’s prone to instant gratification and online shopping sprees, speed is the norm rather than the exception. And for most millennials, the comfort and opportunities offered by cities are more suited to their ambitions and life goals.
So, does this practically mean that areas outside of urban centers are not fit for millennial occupation? Are North American Municipalities at all ready to make Generation Y feel welcome? That’s precisely what we’re going to explore today.
Before we try to understand whether municipalities are ready to serve the millennials, let’s first gain a brief understanding of who these millennials are. Put simply, the term ‘millennial’ refers to the generation that’s born between the early 1980s and late 1990s.
There is some contradiction regarding this time limit, as certain literature also considers children born in the early 2000s as millennials. Millennials are also known as Generation Y, as they come after Generation X (people born between 1960 and 1980).
Critics enjoy characterizing millennials by many different traits, ranging from speed-loving to narcissistic. While there’s bound to be controversy regarding these attributes, the one sure thing is that millennials are a generation that’s enraptured with technology.
After all, these are the people who grew up along with the Internet as we know it today. Fueled by technology, this generation has learned to accept the fast-paced life as a norm. And they expect the rest of the world to follow in their wake.
Anyway, that’s enough about the generation itself. The question that we intend to answer today is whether North American municipalities are ready to host millennials or not. And the answer, sadly, is a resounding no.
We’ve already seen why the millennials prefer to live and work in city centers as the conditions there are more conducive to their aspirations. That apart, there are several other reasons why municipal areas are not fit for the millennial population. The following sections explain some of the major ones.
If we consider cities to be closely-knit networks of human habitation, then municipalities are synonymous with space. In any municipal area, the residents respect each other’s private space, making the creation of public transportation facilities financially infeasible.
Now, millennials are not a generation to shy away from vehicle ownership, but they do appreciate and prefer the convenience of public transportation. Since cities offer these benefits to a greater degree than municipalities, millennials are more likely to gravitate towards the former.
We can remedy this, however, through a few different means. First, we can establish connections between urban centers and municipalities by light-rail. Countless North American cities, Vancouver and Toronto, to name a few, have had success in connecting their non-urban residents to the urban areas.
Another solution is building active transportation infrastructure that appeases more types of commuters. Tie this into a light-rail or bus infrastructure and the resilience of each increases tenfold. Along with that, an abundance of shelter vegetation and scenic pit stops will also appeal to the millennial generation.
As we’ve already seen, millennials are a generation that thrives on technology. With a majority of millennials hooked onto and dependent on the internet for their daily lives, fast connectivity is a must for them.
And this is another area where municipalities lack behind the city centers. Municipal areas usually have slower and low-quality internet connectivity as compared to cities. The limitation of connectivity leaves millennials, who communicate through emojis and selfies, rather in the lurch.
Therefore, if municipalities are to attract the millennial population, they need to up their connectivity options. We can achieve this by putting pressure on provincial and federal governments for creating satellite connectivity and more cell towers. This, in turn, will lead to better internet connectivity and hence attract a greater number of millennials to these areas.
One of the significant negative characteristics that critics attribute to millennials is a fear of commitment. While we don’t need to argue how true this is in the realm of personal relationships, it is nevertheless true in the case of professional ones.
Millennials are notorious for job-hopping and are known to stay away from long-term workplace commitment. As a result, they prefer to reside in areas where they can access greater and more varied employment opportunities, making cities, which are areas of high business density -the perfect hotspots for housing millennials.
Moreover, this naturally translates to the fact that if municipalities are to attract more millennials, they must first attract more businesses. We can't expect millennials to live in suburban centers which require them to commute to work daily.
That’s why one of the major solutions to the above conundrum is to build business centers close to municipal areas. This kind of planning can lead to a significant decrease in commute times, thus appealing to and attracting a more substantial number of millennials.
Before we take our leave, we must acknowledge one thing: there are exceptions to every generation. In every batch of millennials who choose the city life, there will be a few who are attracted to the serenity and space offered by municipal areas.
Some millennials still prefer to live within the stronger sense of community feeling and bonding that exists in suburban areas. For these representatives of the millennial flock, municipalities can form suitable dwelling places.
However, their numbers are few, and until municipalities can offer the required amenities to the members of this generation, we can't expect millennials to flock to these locations. Better living conditions and fulfillment of generational needs are bound to take center-stage in the millennials’ choice of dwelling location.