Is flexibility the new luxury amenity for millennials?
It certainly seems so! Although 37% of new homebuyers are millennials many still like to rent because life can change in a moment's notice. The flexibility is reassuring in considering the possibilities of marriage, children, coupling, and corporate relocation.
But this now goes a step further when it comes to leasing an apartment for a standard one to two year term. Co-living is an industry that's heating up with VC-backed firms like WeLive and Common leasing furnished apartments on a bedroom-by-bedroom basis for residents who want a turn-key experience and community. This real estate space is so well-funded jumping from $.2B in 2017 to $2.2B in 2018 that smaller startup companies are being left in the dust: VC-backed startup Bedly which raised $7m recently went out of business citing competition along with management that is "operationally complex."
Companies further catering to this lack-of-ownership lifestyle include Feather which provides subscriptions for high-end rental furniture. Why would anyone who can afford to purchase furniture rent? For younger people there's often an appropriate time and place - like graduate school - as a recent New York Times article observed. Plus the general desire to create a space that matches the high standards set online through social media. Similarly Rent the Runway is a card-carrying sponsor of the Instagrammable quick and easy - at its core renting a designer dress for a night is more economical than owning one and hardly having another opportunity to rewear it.
All of this stirred through my mind as I recently met a millennial who does financial consulting online and pops in and out of co-living options on a week by week basis around the country. Is he a well-to-do digital nomad laughing at the system? Or is there a hint of Peter Pan Syndrome as more and more peers get married and move to permanent homes? This seems to be the divide in traditional versus contemporary living that sets many colleagues apart who are otherwise like-minded.