It’s fair to say COVID-19 has resulted in an army of stir-crazy employees, longing for a change of scenery and a living space that isn’t invaded by the daily grind of a 9 to 5. But let that not be confused with a desire to return to the office. Actually, recent numbers exemplify just the opposite.
So what is the ideal work situation? And how is it achieved? Employees are still trying to find the balance they’re after, but one option seems to rise above the rest.
Enter the live-work-play community, a choice that continues to gain traction because they host the trifecta of our daily activities under one roof: living, working and entertaining.
According to RentCafe, LWPs have quadrupled in numbers in the last 10 years, going from a mere annual supply of 10,000 in 2012 to 43,700 by 2021. Recent changes in renters’ lifestyles, including hybrid work plans, helped LWP buildings shift from an obscure niche to a sought-after luxury, and 49,100 opened in 2020 alone.
The growth of these communities is impressive, furthermore, when looking beyond the past decade. Mixed-use was barely existent before 2011, making up just 2% of overall projects (a total of 225,100 buildings) across the U.S. Today though? There are about 580,000 LWP buildings nationwide — a two-fold growth achieved in just 10 years, based on the report.
Chicago is No. 4 in terms of LWP apartments ever built in the U.S. at 18,700, with around 11,500 delivered in the last decade, largely due to Chicago’s need and availability for high-rise, vertical mixed-use.
There’s no blueprint for these developments, and they are diverse from building to building, according to RentCafe. These buildings can offer a variety of “play” options, from clubhouses and spas to tennis courts, along with grocery stores and restaurants on the ground floor. But that’s not to say there aren’t similarities.
Overall, 77% of these rentals have access to clubhouses, 94% to fitness centers, 75% to swimming pools and 37% to spas.
The future is bright for LWPs, especially in Chicago. Nearly 16,000 are expected to hit the market in 2022, and 1,500 LWP rentals are under construction.
With the concept of new urbanism becoming increasingly popular and younger generations focusing on building a tight knit, environmentally conscious future, it is those that make up the host of LWP renters. And in Chicago it’s no different. Fifty-three percent of renters are Millennials between 25–34 years old, earning an average annual income of over $100,000.
All things considered, RentCafe concluded that there’s no way but up for the LWP movement.