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The hustle and bustle of urban living or opting for a quieter life?

Download: GEN Z: EMERGING TALENT Full report

Historically, major capitals and industrial centres have been magnets for talent, innovation and investment, and people have travelled thousands of miles to access the opportunities presented there. But in a more connected world, do cities hold the same appeal?

A global survey of more than 30,000 online respondents across 60 countries found that more than half of Gen Z and Millennials (52% and 54% respectively) still want to live in a big city or an urban neighbourhood, and just over a quarter believe the suburbs are the best place to call home.1

So what continues to make these urban areas attractive? Our recent research revealed that young people in the USA are drawn to cities that feel safe and have low levels of crime. The cleanliness of the streets is their second most important consideration when they’re making a move.

Canadian respondents agreed on the importance of safety, but they also placed significant value on a city’s public transport network. Canadian cities have been growing rapidly and fortunately, authorities have boosted investment in transit schemes that aim to cut commute times, reduce air pollution, and strengthen communities as well as Canada’s economy.

Gen Z and Millennials in the UK also want access to public transport and ranked that equally as highly as a city’s approach to crime prevention in their responses to our survey. A wide range of job opportunities, closely followed by having access to green space, were listed as the most important contributors to a good quality of city life.

Source: BBC News – The UK's rapid return to city centre living (June 2018); according to analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics

Willingness to commute

In the USA and Canada, the younger generations are willing to travel to get to their workplace but most want to keep their commute under 45 minutes. Around one-third of respondents (34%) to a survey of almost eight hundred 18 to 25 year-old college and university students said they’re willing to travel up to half an hour, and another third would be willing to add 15 minutes to that journey time. Their preferred mode of transportation is driving (65%), followed by car-pooling with co-workers (30%)2. So how realistic are their expectations.

In the USA, the average journey is around 26 minutes each way, but getting to or from work takes approximately a fifth of workers 45 minutes or longer. New Yorkers, on average, spend 34 minutes commuting (one-way) and one-third of people spend over 60 minutes travelling in each direction.3

Commuters in Canada spend an average of 24 minutes driving to their workplace and 45 minutes if they’re using public transport.4 While in the UK, people are now spending 81 minutes travelling in and out of London for work, which is 23 minutes longer than the national average of 58 minutes.5 That’s the longest journey time in the UK, but within the limit acceptable to more than a third of Gen Z respondents to a recent survey, who said they would be willing to travel up to an hour each way to get to the perfect workplace.6

Source: Nielsen Global Generational Lifestyles Survey, November 2017 and WGN-TV – These are the 10 worst Commutes in the US, Did Your City Make the List?, November 2017

1. Nielsen Global Generational Lifestyles Survey
2. Rober Half Get Ready for Generation Z Report
3. United States Census – Commuting (Journey to Work)
4. Statistics Canada – Journey to Work: Key Results from the 2016 Census
5. City A.M. – Ranked: The UK Regions with the Longest and Shortest Daily Commutes
6. With 5 Generations at Work Together, Flexible Workspaces Could be a Blessing to Companies

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