By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Interest in minimalism has increased in recent years, and people who want to embrace that lifestyle could fall in love with one of the cities listed in a recent analysis.
Minimalism is commonly defined as intentionally living with fewer possessions, focusing instead on what is essential.
For the analysis by RentCafe, cities with populations of over 200,000 residents were ranked based on a series of metrics including public transportation, commute time, number of people walking and biking to work, the prevalence of work-from-home opportunities, size of homes, climate and environmental factors, population density, access to parks and beaches, electricity bills, and self-storage availability.
Google searches related to minimalism were also taken into account. There were an average of 194,000 minimalism-related monthly searches in 2019, compared to 239,000 in 2022, according to analysts.
Salt Lake City, Utah, was ranked first, followed by Arlington, Va., and St. Paul, Minn.
Madison, Wis., was fourth, and Atlanta, Ga., ranked fifth.
In Salt Lake City, 59% of homes have two bedrooms or fewer, the city had the highest number of online searches related to minimalism, and five percent of locals use public transportation. The average rent is $1,691.
In Arlington, where the average rent is $2,507, 69% of homes have two bedrooms or fewer, 49% of residents work from home, and there are 766 square feet of park space per capita, according to the analysis.
Doug Ressler, senior research officer at Yardi Matrix, said people just starting out in their careers and those who are looking to downsize as they age embrace minimalism.
“It’s really on both sides of the generational spectrum,” Ressler told The Mortgage Note during a recent interview.
Ressler said common attributes of people being pulled to minimalist cities include their desire to spend time outside of their living space. Balconies overlooking green spaces and parks are desired by this population.
Accessibility is also important to minimalists. They may have a car but prefer riding bicycles or walking to destinations, he said.
Ressler explained that for some people, lifestyle takes precedence when deciding where to live. And once they are in a community with people who have shared common values, they are unlikely to leave.
“Even if people lost their jobs, they wouldn’t move from that area,” Ressler said. “St. Paul is that way. It’s a little less hectic than Minneapolis and they pride themselves in that.”
Ressler said they have found that people who are relocating from overseas are increasingly more attracted to markets that cater to minimalists.
“People coming from outside the United States tend to like this kind of lifestyle and that was surprising to us,” Ressler said.
He explained that these individuals are typically students and young professionals, not large families.
There are innovations available for people to live in smaller spaces more comfortably, allowing them to cut down on their footprint.
Robotic furniture is popping up in markets across the country, allowing users to transform spaces between a bedroom, dining area, office, or game room on demand.
Self-storage options, which were taken into account for the analysis, can also help.
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