Gen Z – What do they want from their living environments?

National on-campus student accommodation operator UPP and marketing specialists The Property Marketing Strategists have teamed up to understand what Gen Z really want from their living environment. With student accommodation often being a young person’s first taste of living independently – this team will survey a diverse range of young people to give a picture of the future of home. 

The survey will not only ask current students within in a range of accommodation and recently graduated students about their living experiences, but it will also survey 16–17-year-olds about what they consider important for their first home and what they might look for. This wide independent dataset will ensure for the first time that the Student Accommodation, Coliving and Build to Rent sectors will not only know what Gen Z want from their home but also look at expectations vs reality.

Looking at a broad range of topics, ‘Living & Learning: The Future of Home According to Gen Z’ Survey will explore a number of key themes including:

  • Price Sensitivity & Affordability – What young people are willing to pay for, how much and also what they are not.
  • The Climate Crisis– With sustainability a vital part of Gen Z’s outlook – how should the home match their ideal, how is this connected to affordability and are they willing to pay for it?
  • Wellbeing – Home is where the heart is – but what do students need from a home and how best can it support their wellbeing?
  • Community – What do Gen Z expect from their local community beyond their educational setting and how does this impact graduate mobility?
  • Technology – what part will technology play in the future home and how will Gen Z prioritise these features?

With the expansion of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) in the last 20 years the student home has evolved. However, the question this survey sets out to ask is has it really evolved enough for the next generation of students? With the well documented rise in 18-year-olds which is expected to reach 893,000 in 2030 – a 25% increase, now is the time to really understand what they want. Not least because of this growth but also because this is a generation that technology, social media, the climate crisis and the impact of a global pandemic is not new – it is how they grew up.

“This project started out as the Unanswered Questions,” says Sarah Canning and Deenie Lee from The Property Marketing Strategists, “because for so long research in student living has been focused on current customers and not those about to live in these environments with the focus on service and not product.” Sarah and Deenie between them have over 25 years of experience working within student accommodation environments but their frustration at the sectors’ lack of evolution is what spurred their passion to create a business based on innovation and research. “We are concerned 

 

that the ongoing push for bigger, better and more expensive facilities is not only impacting affordability for those choosing to live away at university but also not focusing on the key concerns for Gen Z – sustainability and wellbeing.”

“When we met with UPP we were delighted that they understood our concerns and together we hope this research provides real value not only to the university experience and accommodation developers of PBSA and Build to Rent but also to the wellbeing of the next generation.”

Kate Owen, Chief Marketing Officer, from UPP commented: 

“Hearing the student voice is an imperative. With increasing pressures from the financial burden, the impact of the pandemic and a rapidly changing taught environment, it is absolutely essential that we as an industry understand how we can best meet existing and future student expectations and therefore support them in a way that works for them at all stages of their university experience.”

Alongside UPP the research is support by a number of partners including interiors specialist LOFT UK who are sponsoring the Sustainability pillar of the research.

Benjamin Hall, Founder & Managing Director of LOFT UK comments, “For property professionals operating in today’s crowded marketplace, allowing sustainability to guide your actions must be about more than just ticking a box.  We know it and residents know it.  But this is particularly true when it comes to thinking about student residents. More so than many other groups, they have their ear firmly to the ground.  And they have only experienced a world in which acting with sustainability in mind is a must. They rightly demand more, and when we work in partnership to create spaces for them to call home, we strive to deliver more.”

Sarah and Deenie continued: “This research is about driving the sector forward to bigger and better things and we are delighted that many of those in the sector are coming together to support this important project. We can’t wait to get started and share the results.”