We all know millennials. They're the first generation to grow up with the internet. They had cell phones in elementary and middle school. They own bikes instead of cars and do yoga several times a week. They won't eat gluten even though their bodies can handle it just fine. They're entrepreneurs working side gigs they call "passion projects". They take selfies with bizarre filters. We all know them. Maybe we are them.
Millennials are also the generation taking jobs in growing industries that Baby Boomers sometimes haven't even heard of. If you want to know what the industries of tomorrow will be? Look at the career choices of millennials. They already make up 25% of the US population. There opinions matter because they can vote. They have a very real voice. Now.
By the way, there is a mini-generation between Generation X and Millennial called the "X-ennial" that covers the people born after X but before the internet became a part of everyday life.
Niche.com as well as Forbes consistently rank Arlington as one of, if not the, top city in the nation for millennials. Niche has them at #3 in 2018, #1 in 2017, and #2 in 2016. I'd say that's a model of consistency. Interesting.
Why do millennials flock to Arlington?
First of all, Washington DC as a metropolitan is a progressive town -- something millennials certainly are collectively. Within DC, Arlington continuously transforms itself, staying ahead of the curve. it doesn't fall behind in terms of what millennials tend to do occupationally and things they like to do leisurely. Arlington, and the DC metro area is not just for government and contracting jobs. It's becoming an IT hotbed and many commercial organizations have made Arlington their home in recent years.
It's great for pedestrians. Transit infrastructure is there and evolving. Parks and trails are everywhere. Neighborhoods like Rosslyn, known as business centers, have transformed with new restaurants and bars that have led to residential buildings following (and vice versa). The State and County governments have empowered business improvement districts (BID) tasked with facilitating growth. The Rosslyn, Crystal City, and Ballston BIDs have done great work in pushing the agenda forward on the transformation.
Money is going into a much needed Metro refresh. An evolution is beginning to take shape with the next wave of transit options such as e-scooters and e-bikes permitted, something that should not be taken for granted given the fact that many other cities have shut it down. This only adds to the options for transportation.
Not long ago, you had a few options -- drive, bus, metro, walk, or ride your own bike. That is changing.
Despite their detractors, city planners are adapting with bike lanes that are not just for bikes anymore. Companies like Uber and Lyft, on-demand car services, are among the fastest growing companies in the history of our country.
Depending on how you define the millennial generation, BISNOW reports it constitutes somewhere between 30-40 percent of Arlington’s population, well above the national average. Within the DC metro region, Arlington's share of all millennials is 27.1% - highest area in the region.
Arlington is clearly doing a lot right to attract millennials. And millennials are doing their part to help Arlington continue to thrive, stuffed animal filters and all.