Tailoring amenities to evolving demographics

Resident preferences are changing. How can condos keep up?
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
By John Brea

Gone are the days when most condo dwellers were young couples or single business professionals who wanted to live close to work. These communities have evolved to include many more families with small children, new Canadians, and empty nesters who have downsized and want to live a more dynamic lifestyle with convenience at their fingertips.

As the demographics of a community evolve, so do the needs and wants of the residents within them.

Desired amenities are changing

The types of amenities that were once popular in condos have changed. Residents are no longer looking for just a place to live; they’re seeking a lively and interactive environment where they can live, work, and play. They look for communities that offer something special for themselves and their families, whether their family consists of only adults, adults and children, or adults and furry relatives.

Certain amenities will always be popular and seen as an added benefit, such as gyms and party rooms. Some amenities that were once sought after, like a pool, are now less desirable. The maintenance and insurance cost of pools significantly add to an owner’s condo fees, and many are reconsidering having to contribute to an amenity that is not widely used.

When planning amenities, developers are now taking the demographics of the community’s residents into account. Providing a variety of amenities and services that can benefit people from different walks and stages of life is paramount.

For the younger generations

Families with young children are becoming much more prominent in condos, and with that, creating spaces that are specifically geared toward younger residents is increasingly important.

New developments are being designed to include an outdoor playground, and indoor amenities that are gaining more traction are playrooms, craft rooms or an area that combines both. Activities being considered for these spaces include chalkboard walls or something similar that can easily be drawn on, cleaned, and used repeatedly, as well as a sink to keep post-craft clean-up simple.

These types of amenities can not only benefit the younger residents, but also be a great help to older ones as well. Residents who have grandchildren appreciate having a space they can enjoy with their young visitors.

Another rising trend within condo communities is stroller parking, which can be compared to bike storage. Strollers are bulky, and depending on the size and design of a unit, they can be very hard to store. Giving residents access to a secure room for their strollers when they’re not in use can make the comings and goings of a parent more convenient.

For the working professionals

A condo unit doesn’t always provide the best atmosphere for those working remotely or in hybrid mode. To help residents who may need a quieter place to take a call or focus on a big project, co-working or wireless workspaces are being added as an amenity. These rooms are equipped with internet, desks, and tables for residents to work from; this way, residents can simply arrive with their laptops and headphones, ready to take on the day with minimal distractions.

For the empty nesters

More empty nesters are choosing to downsize from their single-family homes to condo communities, allowing them to worry less about the maintenance and upkeep that comes with homeownership, and giving them the opportunity to age in place. As a result, developers are incorporating units designed with more accessibility in mind, including walk-in showers, larger entryways, and lower counters that can accommodate a wheelchair.

For our four-legged friends

The well-being of our four-legged family members has also gained importance among residents. Basic pet amenities, like small grassy areas that include pet waste bags and disposal, are no longer enough.

Developers are now going the extra mile for pets by installing luxurious pet wash areas and proper dog runs with fake fire hydrants and easy-to-maintain artificial turf. These areas are great spots for dogs to let out some energy and for neighbours to meet and get to know each other.

The rise of the master-planned community

For condo communities to be desirable, it’s no longer about the amenities that can be found within the building. It’s also focusing on creating a true live, work, and play community environment where a wide variety of amenities are available within walking distance. That’s where the master-planned communities come in.

This type of community is designed to encompass multiple high-rise buildings, townhomes, retail, large recreational centres, dining, professional services, and more. Master-planned communities are beginning to pop up in metropolitan areas across Canada, and are often built near transit hubs. They benefit not only those who choose to live in them, but the cities they’re developed in as well.

For these master-planned communities to get approval, cities can have a say in the types of third-party amenities that are found in them. Cities can mandate certain things be included in the community, such as a city-run recreation facility or a library.

Being flexible with amenities that no longer work

For existing communities, as demographics change, the want for certain amenities will change too. As a board, it’s important to be open-minded and flexible to the residents’ ever-changing needs. While there are some amenities your community will have to stay tied to, like a pool, others can evolve.

Golf simulator rooms continue to be popular, but if not adopted by the residents, result in valuable space barely being used. An amenity like this is worth revisiting and can evolve to better suit the needs of the community’s demographics. Perhaps a TV room that allows residents to have a Superbowl or Bachelorette finale watch party would be more appreciated. Or, for condos with a growing population of children and no kid-friendly amenities, it might be best to convert the space into a playroom.

The bottom line is amenity trends continue to evolve as new services and technology become more widely available. What’s important is ensuring that you consider the ever-changing demographics of these densely populated communities when determining your amenity offerings.

John Brea is President of the FirstService Residential North Region.

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