Monday, August 03, 2020

In “The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community,” Mark J. Dunkelman explains that there used to be three rings of societal interaction: the family, the serendipitous interactions that occurred in a walkable downtown, and the more anonymized interactions that occur online. Dunkelman, who served as a senior fellow at the Clinton Foundation, should know what he’s talking about. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, Daily Beast and National Affairs.

Today, people are driving more and shopping online more, meaning that the second ring—in which the butcher, the baker, the doctor and the banker all met up by chance while walking downtown or to the store—is being hollowed out. There is a growing trend, however, that is combating this: a move toward apartment rentals with beautiful communal features. These communities allow for the restoration of this second ring by creating curated spaces for people to come together to meet, learn and form new bonds that are important for people to feel happy, content and connected.

Apartment rental complexes offer the opportunity for vibrant community with real chances to meet other people in common areas, social spaces, coffee bars and outdoor gardens, so that new friendships and relationships can be born. For this reason, apartment renting is one important element of a real estate trend that is uniting both millennials and boomers: a rare feat for generations that have been billed as fundamentally opposite. In a day and age in which many people are missing the social connections that may have taken place in a walkable downtown a generation ago, these complexes provide for social connection. In the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “Consider how our definition of “neighborliness” has evolved. Once upon a time, being neighborly meant “reaching out to the people who lived next door” by, among other things, “offering to watch the kids in a pinch.” Apartment complexes allow for this, and more.

One such new construction apartment complex in Teaneck, offers just this through their newly conceptualized communal spaces. One popular themed space is dubbed the “Social Square,” in which residents are able to come and interact over amenities such as ping pong, foosball and an incoming working station. The building is also scheduled to be opening a mommy-and-me for community bonding, which residents are brightly bustling about and anticipating. One resident jumped, “We can’t wait to be able to meet more people in the building who might be drawn there and have a safe space for our kids to roam.”

The trend toward apartment rentals is driven by other factors as well: a new kind of job market and a preference for luxury and convenience. In a job market in which the average millennial may have seven careers during their working life, the ability to move apartments represents a source of strength and freedom. In the era of the man in the gray suit of the 1950s—where lifetime employment lent itself to a stable living in a permanent residence—home ownership made more sense. Today, however, it is common for millennials to seek new positions at new companies annually instead of moving up the corporate ladder, moving laterally or gaining new skills in new positions.

Purchasing a home is an expensive proposition that includes brokerage fees, moving costs, insurance costs and other such expenses, as well as any necessary or desired renovations and landscaping. After investing all of this in a home, it is difficult for a homeowner to pick up and move if a better job opportunity arises. For renters, however, leases offer the best of all worlds: the benefit of privacy and community together with conveniences and luxuries that are already taken care of. Leases can be short-term for those who need, lasting only 12 months—enabling millennials to better take advantage of new job opportunities, whether that means moving from Brooklyn to Teaneck or Teaneck to Texas—and they can be extended for years for boomers or for families who may prefer to stay settled with all the conveniences of a property that is already taken care of by management.

Finally, renting becomes a matter of lifestyle design. We live in a day and age when all of us seek the amenities and luxuries that we are used to seeing on television and at the shopping mall—think floor-to-ceiling windows, concierge service and on-demand coffee bars. In terms of actually enjoying these features, however, barriers such as cost and lack of expertise makes it difficult for many to run these luxuries in their own private domains. Apartment buildings are able to employ economies of scale and build amenities that serve their entire community.

All these factors have been pushing for a growing attraction toward these buildings and a growing population of all shapes and sizes coming together in these spaces.

By Adam S. Kriger

Adam S. Kriger is the exclusive leasing agent for Teaneck Square Luxury Rentals in Teaneck. He is also the Director of Commercial Real Estate at Keller Williams in Ridgewood. Adam enjoys building communities and the physical spaces that house those communities, and appreciates the unique way in which real estate can enhance peoples’ lives and bring them together for joy. You can contact Adam at [email protected]