Planning for Millennial Parents

Millennials' housing preferences will change as they age.

There is a lot of conventional wisdom when it comes to the Millennial generation: they are hip, urban, tech savvy and are flocking to live in urban centres. Looking ahead and planning for Millennial housing preferences is an important issue in Calgary. Alberta boasts the youngest median population in Canada (36.5 years old) in part because our city is a destination of choice for young entrepreneurs.

Of course, Millennials’ tastes are bound to change and evolve as they proceed through life’s stages. Most individuals belonging to this cohort are currently single and in their mid-20s, but will be entering prime parenting years within a decade. As their circumstances change, so will their housing preferences.

Urban dwellers were more likely to say they wanted to live elsewhere in 5 years than residents of suburban or rural communities. 


Even if many millennials choose not to have children or get married, their living preferences will mature and change.  Micro-housing units will not satisfy their needs.

Aside from the evolution of individual preferences over time, the main impetus for migration from city centres to outlying communities is usually family. Data from the U.S. overwhelmingly shows that parents with young children tend to avoid urban cores. In fact, even as the population in city centres increases, numbers of kids under 15 in these areas continues to drop.

There are three reasons cities can be perceived as “child unfriendly”:

  • Lack of quality schools
  • Absence of play areas/structures
  • High price of housing/lack of space

So how do cities satisfy the needs of young families? Diverse, mixed-use development in both city cores and outlying areas. In city centres, a greater concentration of child friendly infrastructure as well as medium or “soft” density neighbourhoods with more affordable housing options could improve Millennial retention. In the suburbs, an increased focus on building complete communities with offices, local amenities and recreation options will satisfy both young family’s needs and sustainable city efforts.

Millennials are just starting to establish themselves in their careers and homes. As they age, start families and establish their careers, their priorities are bound to change. As Calgary grows, it will be important to plan around these changes by creating a variety of developments - from singles-friendly areas like the East Village to more family-friendly communities like the Currie Barracks and Quarry Park.

July 3rd, 2015
Updated: September 14th, 2017

What happens when Millennials marry and become parents?