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Survey: Boston Millennials Say MBTA Is 'Very Important' Factor In Where They Live And Work

Millennials in Greater Boston say access to public transit is the most important factor in where they choose to live and work.

In a new survey from The Urban Land Institute Boston/New England and The MassINC Polling Group, 80 percent of young professionals ranked access to public transit as "very important" when choosing a place to live. More respondents said public transit was "very important" than things such as nightlife, shopping, crime/safety and being able to walk to amenities. Additionally, 81 percent of respondents said having an easy commute to work or school was "very important."

The survey also found that 78 percent of young professionals said a workplace located near public transit was "very important," which far outranked office amenities such as a gym or cafeteria as well as proximity to restaurants and nightlife.

The results are based on a survey of 660 college-educated residents in the Boston area between the ages of 20 and 37. The survey was conducted from Oct. 7 to 27.

"Understanding the preferences this group of professionals has on transportation, lifestyle, housing, and employment can assist city planners, developers and employers shape our city landscape,” Taylor Shepard, the co-chair of ULI Boston’s Young Leaders Group, said in a statement accompanying the poll results.

According to the survey, Boston area millennials tend to rely on public transportation to get to school or work. When asked how they normally get around, 49 percent of respondents said they use the subway or Green Line, 24 percent use an MBTA bus or Silver Line and 13 percent use the commuter rail. Survey respondents could choose all options that apply. Thirty-nine percent said they walk, 26 percent said they drive alone (versus 6 percent who drive with others), and 22 percent said they bike.

When deciding how to commute to work or school, 73 percent said proximity to public transportation was "very important," followed by reliability of buses or trains (68 percent) and travel time (65 percent).

And while public transportation was very important in choosing a community or neighborhood to live in, local millennials are still concerned with costs. When it comes to choosing a home or apartment, 88 percent said price was a "very important" feature for them to consider. The next-closest important factor was layout, which half said was "very important."

Here are some other interesting findings from the survey:

  • On average, young professionals spend 28 percent of their income on rent or a mortgage payment.
  • 66 percent rent their current residence, while 32 percent own.
  • 46 percent feel they are better off financially than their parents, while 27 percent feel they are worse off. Twenty-three percent feel they are about the same.
  • 73 percent ranked paid family leave as the most important benefit their workplace could offer, followed by having a flexible work schedule (68 percent).
  • 58 percent live with a partner or significant other while 25 percent live with roommates and only 14 percent live alone. Three percent live with their parents or their partner's parents — 100 percent said it was for financial reasons.
  • 45 percent plan on buying a home in the next five years. Thirty percent of those plan to buy a single family home.
  • Young professionals also use other transportation options — 84 percent use Uber, 39 percent use Hubway, 27 percent use Lyft. And 89 percent said they use taxis. (Survey respondents could choose all options that apply.)
  • 49 percent of young professionals see themselves still living in the Boston area in 10 years.

Zeninjor Enwemeka Digital Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a digital reporter at WBUR, covering all things relevant to people in Greater Boston.


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