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The Life Events Gen Z & Millennials Are Most Looking Forward to in 2021

Young consumers’ life plans might’ve been impacted by the pandemic—but going into 2021, they’ve got milestones they’re excited to tackle…

From relationships to graduation to major social events, the pandemic has upended a lot of young people’s life milestones. But despite it all, they’re still starting 2021 with hope, full of goals they still want to accomplish in the new year. YPulse’s Life Plans, Rewritten trend report explores how COVID has permanently impacted their life plans and futures—but found that 72% of 13-39-year-olds say that they believe once the threat of Coronavirus has passed, they will be able to bounce back and still achieve their life goals.

Now, 2021 holds the promise of vaccines and a possible end to the threat of COVID that has derailed so many of their plans—so what do they believe the year has in store for them? To get a sense of what major milestones they believe they’ll be tackling this year, we asked young people “What is the life event or milestone you are most looking forward to in 2021?” Here are their top responses: 

The Life Milestones They’re Most Looking Forward to in 2021

Among 13-39-year-olds

  1. End of COVID / Vaccine
  2. Graduation
  3. Find a job / get a new job
  4. Buy a house / Move to a new home
  5. Celebrate a birthday
  6. Travel / Vacation
  7. Buy a car
  8. Start a business / expand my business
  9. Attend school / college / grad school
  10. Get engaged / married
  11. Become a parent / Have another child
  12. Entertainment / Events to return
  13. Earn more money
  14. Be successful / wealthy
  15. Get a driver’s license
  16. Be happy / enjoy life
  17. Spend time with friends / family
  18. Return to school / work
  19. Find my dream job / career
  20. Be independent / live by myself

The most common response to the question has to do with COVID-19 coming to an end and to receiving a vaccine so they can go on to continue living their normal lives. Though this shouldn’t be quite a surprise after the events of the last year, it is interesting that young people are considering the vaccine and the end of the pandemic as life events. But of course, their responses also show that for many young people, the end of the pandemic and the vaccine is actually the gateway to all of the other events that they want to happen. Many explain that they want things to “get back to normal” that they’re “tired of being in quarantine” and that “everything stopped because of COVID.” As one 16-year-old female put it, “I hate being in quarantine. I miss my normal life such as going to school, hanging out with friends, and just being free.” While many of the at-home trends that started in 2020 will continue, young people miss their freedom—and their loved ones.

But while the end of COVID and getting the COVID vaccine was by far the top response we received, Gen Z and Millennials have plenty of major milestones in their plans this year. It’s no surprise that “Graduation” is in the number two spot, with many young people still in school, or with loved ones in school. Seventeen-year-olds were the most likely to say they were looking forward to graduation, as they plan to finish their senior years and start their post-high school lives. But YPulse’s Life Plans, Rewritten research did find that some of their higher education journeys could be very different thanks to the pandemic: 30% of high school students are considering delaying going to college because of COVID.

Finding or starting new jobs and buying new houses were number three and four on the list respectively, but of course some age groups are more likely to have these major events in their plans:

While all age groups are looking forward to, and expecting, the end of COVID in 2021, 20-29-year-olds were the most likely to be looking forward to a new job and 30-39-year-olds were most likely to be looking forward buying or moving to a new home. Many Millennials planning those moves and purchases talked about needing more space for their families, and we explored the increased importance of home spaces in our No Place Like Home trend research. Home ownership continues to be the goal for young people, though our data shows that many have been delayed by COVID the number of Millennial home-owners will steadily grow in the coming year.

Older Millennials were also most likely to say that travel or a vacation is what they’re looking forward to. It’s potentially good news for the struggling industry: when young people feel it’s safe, they’re excited to start to exploring the world again.