Plano millennials here to stay?

Plano is becoming home to new families, as well as young professionals and potentially, millennials. City officials claim that it’s mostly due to its up-and-coming arts district, recreational activities and growing downtown. Researchers have broken down what Plano rent and homeownership looks like for millennials and have evaluated the implications of these results as it relates to Plano’s demographic potential.

Millennials – young adults between ages 18 and 34 – are described by researchers at Pew Research Center as confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. Pew studies found that millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults, are less religious, less likely to have served in the military and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.

“I can see more and more millennials making Plano their home in the future,” said City Manager Bruce Glasscock. “Plano is increasing in development, change and vibrancy. Millennials are ultimately known for being accepting of change and diversity, which is what Plano is: changing and diverse.”

According to recent research by apartmentlist.com, most Plano millennials are not buying homes, but 68 percent of Plano millennials at least plan to do so more than two years from now.

With student loans and low incomes from entry-level jobs, the most common reason for the delay was that they “cannot afford to buy right now,“ researchers said. In regard to their careers, millennials have been badly set back by the Great Recession and find it hard to break into the fields of their choosing. Despite this, Pew Research Center claims that they are still more upbeat than their elders about their own economic future as well as the overall state of the nation. Other reasons millennials might delay their purchase of a home in Plano, based on these findings, is because they aren’t ready to settle down or are waiting to get married or find a long-term partner.

“Plano is a great city for families. It received an A+ in our most recent renter survey, with top satisfaction scores for quality of local schools,” said John Kobs, CEO of Apartment List. “Our research has suggested, however, that millennials are increasingly moving to urban, walkable cities like Denver, Seattle and Austin. As Plano continues to reinvent itself to attract young millennials, it should maintain the things that have made it great – affordability, employment and schools – while fostering a vibrant, attractive environment that sets it apart from other cities.”

Plano Chamber of Commerce chairman and young professionals ambassador Tywon Thompson agrees and claims that the accessibility to other areas of D-FW via SH 121, Dallas North Tollway and U.S. 75 bring in young families and homeowners who want to experience urban life less frequently. On the other hand, he said, it validates millennials’ uncertainty to settle in Plano, as they might prefer to live an urban lifestyle more consistently.

“Millennials want to walk or bike to work. They want to walk to bars or meet up with people for lunch, work in the park instead of the office. They want to take public transit to save gas money because they don’t have high incomes,” Thompson said.

According to researchers at Apartment List, most Plano millennials are in fact renters, and it was found that 39 percent of Plano renters are very satisfied with their city, compared to 31 percent for Dallas, 39 percent for Austin and 30 percent for Houston.

Plano resident and millennial Jordan Rodgers found these numbers to be low.

“I expected around 50 to 60 percent to be satisfied,” he said. “There isn’t a whole lot to complain about.”

Glasscock believes that if Plano isn’t yet a millennial city, it won’t be long before it is. With all the corporations moving headquarters to Plano, the fresh-faced millennials will be flocking to employment opportunities, he said.

“The fact that Plano has a global reputation is what makes it so attractive to a large number of corporations, and a lot of the employees in those corporations are millennials,” he said. “I think the amenities and quality of life, as well as the diversity of the community, are attractive to that millennial category.”

The most common complaint among millennials, Thompson said, was commute options. He would like to see more available public transportation and bike lanes.  

“If I were to complain, it would be about the roads and potential delays through all this construction,” Rodgers said. “I have to admit, if I had to drive to Dallas every day, I probably wouldn’t live in Plano and I could definitely see commuting lowering the satisfaction rating.”

During his time as the voice of Plano’s young professionals, Thompson said one of the most popular features of the city for millennials is the outdoor accessibility. Though they wish parks were closer and easier to walk to, they highly appreciate the efforts to make Plano a healthy and active place.

The city of Plano has plenty of potential as a millennial center, according to Rodgers.

“If they can clean it back up after the surge of new prospects settles down from corporations moving in, repave the streets, keep building on great police and fire departments, maintain the great parks – I love the Arbor Hills Nature Preserves – and keep building trails where possible, I think more renters will become buyers, especially in the millennial category.” (3/10/2016)

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