Make Room for Gen Z

By Gissela Teran and Kate Francis

Living in modern society means constantly changing expectations and behaviors in pursuit of the next best thing. In particular, Generation Z is characterized by their need for novel experiences not only in the way they spend their time, but also in how and where they choose to live. Gen Z is currently going through a transition as they move out of their parent’s homes into college and early career apartment housing. Their transition is necessitating adaptation in the multi-family industry as it shifts to cater to their priorities: convenience of living, experiential living, and socially and environmentally conscious living. Multi-family Residential is well positioned to adapt to the needs of Gen Z through new strategies for unit design, amenities, and programming.

Elevate Design & Skip Ikea

Gen Z is a unique population who sees owning many material items as a thing of the past. With creative design solutions, apartment buildings are flexible enough to equip their units with everything renters may desire – reducing the need to spend on furnishings.

Built-in shelving, murphy beds, kitchen islands, and other integrated designs can maximize square footage, allowing residents to live larger in less space. These features elevate unit design by providing an organizational element to aid with a minimal design aesthetic, while offering character that surpasses the market standard. Flexible elements like these will a welcome change of pace to the daunting blank slate that renters have come to expect.

Have Less. Experience More.

Companies such as TULU have created smart rental rooms, located in multi-family buildings, that offer on-demand household tools and lifestyle gear for rent. For example, with a click on an app, an avid photographer can borrow camera equipment, or an artist can access tools for their next crafting project on a whim. This novel amenity is like having a gear filled garage, without the price tag or clutter.

Rentable amenity spaces can also promote the “gig” economy by giving freelancers a space outside their unit to create art, music, or their latest podcast. On-property rentable items like the ones provided by TULU would be a convenient hack for maximizing the use of these spaces. Amenities that support multipurpose functions allow renters to adapt their building to their individual needs, decreasing the perceived necessity of a large unit. These multifaceted spaces cultivate a sharing environment in an authentic way that promotes community and resident satisfaction.

Activated Amenities

A diverse group of neighbors may be fostered by offering events where residents can connect with others and their hobbies. This ties individuals to the community outside their building and adding meaning and purpose to their living environment. An approach like this can be carried out through pet events or spiritual yoga with the opportunity to invite local vendors. Online portals can also link residents by providing an outlet to share recommendations, or even something as simple as a cup of sugar with one other. Shared experiences are particularly important to Gen Z-ers, and multi-family residential represents an opportunity to provide value beyond the building’s walls.

On-Brand Experiences

College is a time where young adults come together and emphasize community and experiential living. The Yards at Old State, designed in collaboration with Toll Brothers Apartment Living, has a central clubhouse where every detail thoughtfully connects students to each other and to the outdoors. The property’s offerings include lounge spaces, flexible office spaces, a pool, and indoor rock climbing. College communities around the nation are starting to offer similar inclusive features and access to local community activities that will lead this generation to look for a similar experience in their first post-graduation apartment building.

Brand Loyalty

Since Gen Z is increasingly focused on socially conscious behavior, responsible brands, and bettering their community, they are looking to access a lifestyle that matches their priorities. Residences that benefit the environment through eco-friendly design and benefit their community through encouraging local engagement will earn respect from these young renters.

Unlike previous generations, Gen Z will be joining an increasingly mobile workforce. As such, strong branding is key to retaining those seeking the comforts of home when they move to a different city. Brand loyalty is a key goal for many companies and accomplishing this will go a long way to retain restless and adventurous Gen Z renters. Toll Brothers Apartment Living is a great example of a brand that is achieving loyalty in their multifamily properties. They go beyond value, quality, and customer service to create a lifestyle rich in beauty, comfort, and luxury for all demographics.

Gen Z’s unique values create an opportunity in the Multi-family sector to develop innovative design solutions that will help reduce waste, decrease property footprints, and prepare rental properties for the generations to come. Apartment buildings should not only be a place to live, but a membership to a lifestyle tailor-made for each resident. The next generation of renters wants to change the world for the better, experience it fully, and succeed in their careers all while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a well-designed home. The Multi-family sector needs to be well-prepared to meet the needs of this emerging generation, catering to their experience and demands.

Gissela Teran is Boston-based interior designer at Bergmeyer with experience in retail, workplace, and multi-family design. Her approach to design is focused on shaping one-of-a-kind experiences for clients by fully realizing their brand’s potential.

Kate Francis is a Los Angeles-based interior design at Bergmeyer, specializing in multi-family design. Her work is motivated by the connection between humans and their built environment, striving to improve user experience and functionality in all aspects of design.