In the multifamily industry, all of our relationships are conditional, and basically, quid pro quo. Except one. And that relationship is the one that starts with the individual who has a dream, a fleeting momentary spark of imagination that gets set on fire. That first idea of, “Wouldn’t it be great if …”
Our entire world has changed since the last recession hit and dug its heels in for a “short” haul. It’s changed due to many reasons, of course, not just that one, and part of what propelled the change has to be due to all the technological advances of The Computer Age. Baby Boomers aging out of their single family houses and suburbs have added to the trendiness of moving to cities and thus relocating to apartments, rather than other, single family houses that may now be not modern with up-to-date amenities. There is a definite shift in the perception that it is hip and trendy and chic to live in cities, the preferred “Urban Playgrounds” in cities all around the country, and not just large metropolitan areas.
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
I am truly intrigued with apartment living, the concepts of creating communities and who participates. In my mind, I want to know, wouldn’t it be great if apartments were based around creating its own viable Walk Score? Apartment living needs to get rid of, once and for all, the idea of it being a “Complex” and start acting like a “Community.” What better way of doing this than including amenities such as onsite restaurants, onsite convenience stores, valet recycling services and meditation areas? I would love to live somewhere like this! I would pay more for an apartment that also includes these amenities because it would cut down on my need to always have to drive to purchase groceries or food, always have to tip the delivery driver of the local sandwich shop and give me the option to meet my neighbors, even if I have to initially go it alone. I think it would be nice to also include a “watering hole”: a nice wine/coffee bar with desserts, so that the fun would not have to end at 10:00 p.m. The idea of "room and board" apartment communities appeals to me.
Student Housing competes with dorm living a lot in most university towns. So what is so great about living in a dorm? Dorms are usually cramped, hot (no air conditioning) and rule-oriented. There is not a lot of education offered about independent living, such as how to select the floorplan that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle, how to read a legal binding document (lease) and how to budget your income to fulfill the lease terms. The benefit of living on campus though is it may feel more secure and you can get food pretty much any time, whether you have a meal plan or fast food options on campus and you generally don’t have to have a car, even if you go to school in the suburbs. You can usually do your laundry on campus, too.
I think it would be fantastic to offer this same kind of truly all inclusive, easy lifestyle to students who want and would greatly benefit from living off campus. I also think it would be a viable lifestyle option for those who do not want to commit to a thirty-year mortgage (or even a 15-year one) because they aren’t sure the job they have now is the job they will have in 15-30 years, much less even next year for many. Couples who are starting out, but who opt to delay marriage or childbearing may also wish to have more time to pursue fun activities like weekends away, instead of mowing grass, raking leaves, buying and preparing food and having an onsite restaurant and/or coffee shop might be just the ticket to keep them renting longer.
I can build the castles in the air. Ahhhh, someday I would like to put the foundation underneath, too.