I turned 18 while the world was still exhaling in relief at Y2K not having plunged us into darkness. For a decade, I’ve been told my peers and I are the most coveted generation in the inter-city migration game since baby boomers.
While every municipality was angling to become a City of Choice for the elusive millennial, though, we grew up. The front lines of my generation are approaching 35 — the magic age when people settle down and after which even millennials probably won’t move for a couple of decades. Turns out we have the same emotional needs and biological urges as everyone who came before us. While nobody was watching, first came millennial love, then came millennial marriage, and next comes poopy in the dye-free, locally made, skin-to-skin baby sling.
Enter the Millennial Family. It returns better bang for your retention-and-attraction buck than any other demographic on the market right now. Poised at the verge of parenthood, a millennial deciding where to raise his family also helps keep a spouse there, and they’ll bring brand new humans into the city the old-fashioned way.
Our employers have invested 10-15 years into developing our talent. If a millennial leaves now, she takes that with her. If she stays, she pays it forward locally as an employee and by mentoring new talent. And we’re most likely to start successful businesses that create jobs after having children, so being a great place to build a company is synonymous with being a great place to raise a family.
The loss or retention of my peers has a more pronounced ripple effect on a city than that of any other demographic. So what do we want? Everything reliable studies have told you about us is still true. We aren’t trading our ideals in for minivans and picket fences. We’re just adding kids, and for a better retention solution, so should cities who want us.
We still want multimodal transportation, and look for cities that offer a great commuter experience for our kids. Home will have cycling infrastructure that’s safe for them to use from an early age and the convenience of bus passes for children. Signage, bike racks, and sidewalks that our kids enjoy impress us, too.
We still want diverse cultural attractions — food, festivals, music, art, sports — and for our rugrats to feel welcome in the urban areas where we attend them. Clean streets, wide sidewalks, ample lighting, and colour make our kids happy. Community spaces we’d go to even without our kids, but where we can bring them if we like, make us happy.
We still need places to live, but single-bedroom apartments aren’t for us anymore. Family-sized homes that have equally-easy access to good schools and concert halls, safe parks and international dining, community centres and art galleries are the new millennial dream.
We’re still engaged, and want our kids included in civic life as much as we are. Our City of Choice offers childcare at mindfully-timed public events, but also has mock ballots at voting booths, kids’ meals at community breakfasts, and colouring books at City Hall.
The Millennial Family is the next wave of soon-to-be parents finding places to set stakes. For at least 20 years, being a City of Choice for the most sought-after demographic will mean quickly and firmly embracing our impending marriage of millennial life and family living.
Originally published in Our London.