Buying your first home is a huge milestone. It’s the last check mark on the “adulting” to-do list, and gives you license to say that you’ve finally graduated into full-fledged adulthood. What they don’t warn you about, however, is the price tag associated with achieving that status.

Millennials want to see, do and experience everything, which means they’re very careful about where they put their hard-earned money. They also value different features in a home than other generations — values which have pushed many towards townhomes, condos and other multifamily units instead of traditional detached houses. In order to pinpoint what millennials want in a first home, we interviewed five young Albertans who have recently purchased their first home or are currently looking at making the leap.

Bang for your buck

A recent survey sponsored by Brookfield Residential asked 150 millennials to rank the features that were most important to them in a first home. The most important factor across the board was affordability. Typically, when you buy a townhome or condo, your mortgage payments and utility bills are lower than they would be for a detached house, and the down payment you’re required to pay is smaller. A portion of your strata fees also go towards paying for your insurance and cover any excepted costs that come up on a day-to-day basis.

“If I have to pay a monthly fee anyway, I’d rather it go towards something that I own,” said Anh Dang, who recently purchased her first home.

Rio Pisony says she saw little financial difference between paying rent and paying a mortgage and strata fees. “We were paying as much in rent as we are on our mortgage, and we have a far larger space, privacy and yard than we did in our previous home,” Pisony explained.

Amenities and features

The millennials we spoke with emphasized that practical amenities such as storage and parking are more important than luxuries like gym access when it comes to choosing what extras they need to live comfortably.

“The only two amenities I looked for were underground parking and a large storage area,” said Paulo Silva. “Not having advanced building amenities brings down the risk of ownership and lowers my fees”

“My partner and I were looking for some very specific things to be included in our home,” said Hilary Clark. “Dealing with the tandem parking in our previous place was difficult because we’re always swapping cars at odd hours. Having a double car garage was a huge selling feature for us, because we could then fit both of our vehicles with extra storage on the sides.”

Even though millennials wish to experience everything life has to offer, mowing the lawn and shovelling snow doesn’t reach high on the priority list. Time is money, and owning in a community where the little chores and time-consuming tasks are taken care of is a huge bonus.

“Not having to worry about snow or any building maintenance fits the lifestyle my fiancé and I have right now, as it frees up our time to focus on traveling and heading up to the mountains on the weekend,” Dang said.

Lots of space

Whether you love entertaining, have a family or are or looking to start one in the next few years, having a bit of extra space is always a bonus.

“Having three bedrooms was huge for us, for both the space and future resale value down the road,” said Clark. “We also love hosting parties and I love to cook, so we looked for a layout that had an open concept and easy flow from the kitchen into the living room so entertaining guests is a dream.”

Some Edmonton communities offer townhomes with different floor plans, which are meant to appeal to prospective buyers with different lifestyles. The Orchards, Chappelle Gardens and Paisley even allow owners to personalize the interior of their home during the build process to suit their personality and lifestyle.

“We have lots of family gatherings, so the number of rooms was important,” says Pisony. “Having a kitchen and living area that is open and bright is key when hosting a gathering.”

Connected and supported communities

Convenience and an ease of living are two of the driving forces behind the make-or-break decisions millennials face when looking for their first home. With condos being so conveniently located and packed full of amenities, it’s no wonder they’ve become popular homes of choice among this generation.

Communities like The Orchards, Paisley and Chappelle Gardens are excellent examples of neighbourhoods that cater to an easy-living lifestyle. Many of their townhomes offer privately landscaped lawns, multi-bedroom units, private single and double attached garages, open concept kitchens and green space that gives pets room to roam, making them a worthy choice for the monumental decision that is purchasing a first home.


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