Chicago Market Trends

Can the Chicago suburbs get millennials to ditch the city?

First, Wisconsin, and now the suburbs—everyone wants to nab millennials as they enter their homebuying years. Wisconsin spent $1 million on an ad campaign painting Illinois’s northern neighbor as an idyllic alternative to Chicago traffic and commuting. The ads, seemingly everywhere, evoked a largely dismissive response. Now, places a little closer to home are throwing their hat in the ring and bidding for millennials.

Millennials in the suburbs?

Rendering courtesy of "Smart Park"

The city has long reigned supreme as the preferred option for the younger crowd, while the suburbs have a quieter, slower-paced reputation. But, suburban doesn’t have to mean boring. A lot of Chicago’s ’burbs have their own attractive downtowns and dining scenes. Spots outside the city, like Naperville and Homewood, are trying different tactics to show millennials that city life isn’t the only way.

Naperville’s angle plays on how much millennials love technology and craft beer. The western suburb is planning to develop a “Smart Park,” which will have Wi-Fi, allowing people to work outdoors. The park is planned for space along the scenic Naperville Riverwalk. The city is also trying to increase its overall internet speed and capacity. Also, Naperville could be getting more craft beer. A spot with self-serve craft beer taps has been proposed for 216 S. Washington St. 

The Village of Homewood is using a different tactic with cartoon-like ads, according to the Chicago Tribune. The southern suburb invested $20,000 in the “Think Homewood” ads, which depict the appeal of life in the suburbs.

“It’s a substantial amount of money for a small town, but I think it’s wisely invested. We are a welcoming community, and I want everyone to know about it. But in order to keep a viable community, you have to think younger,” Village President Richard Hofeld told the Tribune.

The ads try to draw millennials by showing the diversity, affordability, and quality schools and parks that come with living in Homewood. Like the Wisconsin ads, the Homewood ads will start popping up on the CTA. You can expect to see them on the Blue Line and in neighborhoods like Logan Square, Wicker Park, McKinley Park, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Hyde Park, and Woodlawn, according to the report.

What do millennials want? 

Two playful dogs enjoying their backyard

Sure, millennials love living in Chicago neighborhoods like Bucktown/Wicker Park, Lakeview, and the West Loop, but all of these suburb ad campaigns might hook some of them. 

When it comes to buying homes, a handful of trends are driving millennials. Many millennials are contending with student debt, fueling their decision to either put off buying a house or to find something more affordable, and the Homewood ads are certainly playing up the affordability factor.

Plus, millennials want some space to stretch out. They prefer detached homes and somewhere with a yard because their dogs need somewhere to run. Where are you going to find a more affordable single-family home with a yard? Many millennials might not want to admit it yet, but the answer is the suburbs. 

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