Millennials drive the dispersal of businesses to the regions

Despite so much being written about millennials, the only common theme seems to be that you can’t box them. Paradoxically, we’re told they want to buy everything online but also want to visit shops, they see themselves as job transient but expect job security, they’d like to have an office but equally they want the freedom to work flexibly.

What I do see however is that millennials, perhaps uniquely, place great value on time than any previous cohort, and do not want to waste it commuting for hours on end. Our recent CBRE Millennials report Millennials: Myths and Realities’ suggests that 30 minutes is the longest commute millennials are willing to tolerate travelling to work.

A half hour journey from home to the centre of London, or to one of the new urban hubs, puts you in some of the most expensive London postcodes.  As millennials cannot afford to live in London, they are moving out to Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and other regional cities.

As talent moves out because of house and rental price pressures, companies will need to consider following it; no point being in a city with no access to suitable employees.  This isn’t a new idea; we saw it play out over the past 20 years with companies moving into London to have access to the increasingly diverse talent.  Larger companies left out of town regional campus sites, relocating to the centre of London, especially during a period in the economic cycle when the rent differential was at a low point which made such a move more attractive financially.  Now, however, we are seeing companies moving back out of London, not to commuter belt sub markets but further afield to the key regional cities.

As our new graduates locate to areas where they can afford to live and be close to work, we need to start creating sustainable diverse and flexible spaces where they can start their work lives and fulfil their potential.  Creative hubs and centres of excellence will draw both talent and companies – again not a new idea but with the “war on talent” so high on everyone’s agenda, do we need to reinvent the wheel or just return to the old ideas and refresh them for the next generation? It is estimated that half of our workforce will be made up of millennials  by 2020, so whatever we do, we need to do it now.


Building Surveying, cities, job security, millennials, out of town, Placemaking, regions, rental price rise,
Matt Wilderspin

Matt Wilderspin

Head Of UK Project & Cost Management

+44 20 7182 3725