Ahhh, the sweet lure of amenities. In simpler times, “amenities” might have referred to a lobby and a room with some treadmills in it. Today, amenities are everything— and almost everything is on offer, from virtual golf rooms to trendy culinary classes.
Millennials are a major demographic behind this amenity evolution. With their tastes trending urban, they’re seeking out the “live work play” havens that dense city centers can provide. Consequently, rentals are on the rise: there are 1.6 million more renters today than there were just five years ago.
This is a generation that’s increasingly choosing to rent, gravitating towards amenities that offer a complete living experience. Of course, this has sparked an “amenities arms race” among developers eager to attract them. Here’s how it’s all playing out:
- Expanding square footage. Amenity space has expanded over the years, with some developers doubling the square footage devoted to them. At the same time, apartments are shrinking—sometimes even to micro size. "As apartment home sizes get smaller, tenants live more in amenity spaces,” says Marissa Pellegrini, Director - Sales at KIG.
- New basics. What passed as a “nice to have” yesterday is a “must have” today. Pools and fitness centers, for instance, are not quite as optional these days—and they’re practically mandatory for new Class A apartment communities. Here are the top five community amenities renters expect, according to NMHC: parking (94%), pool (83%), fitness center (82%), secured community access (80%), and recycling (80%). This is in addition to in-home amenities like high-speed internet, walk-in closets, soundproof walls, patio or balcony space, and washer/dryer units.
- Luxurious extras. According to Building Design + Construction, most of today’s new high-rise projects are luxury. For these properties, not only are amenities like a pool and fitness center a must (see “new basics”), but now that pool needs to be an infinity pool on a lush rooftop terrace, and that fitness center needs a climbing wall and space for yoga classes. Luxury properties are also luring residents with everything from cooking courses taught by expert chefs to concierge services catering to every whim. That’s on top of perks like dry cleaning services and private elevators!
- Tech on demand. Common areas equipped with USB ports and WiFi now come standard, and smart lockers are being installed to handle the surge of packages tenants order online. Printers are also a major perk for this plugged-in generation. “Millennials usually own their own technology but are looking for places to print,” Pellegrini says. "I would advise investors and developers to spend their dollars on printers instead of computers for residents to use."
- Bike and pup-friendly services. Multifamily housing is experiencing a “bike and dog revolution,” with buildings adding everything from bicycle repair stations to dog-grooming services. Bikes and dogs are getting their own dedicated spaces, too, from ample and secure bike storage to play areas exclusively for pets.
- Spaces for living and working. With more people opting to work from home, multifamily amenities are shifting to meet their needs. For example, developers are building mixed-use spaces that cater to both the work-from-home crowd and the after-work social set. And as the lines blur between living and working, properties are offering everything from casual cyber cafes to dedicated office space and conference rooms.