Does Birth Order Influence Housing Preferences?

May 9, 2019

Could birth order influence your housing decisions? Some researchers believe so.

“Birth order plays a certain role in our upbringing, and thereby also affects the way we tend to think of ourselves and the behaviors we choose,” Ana Jovanovic from ParentingPod, an online resource for parents on mental health and well-being, told Apartment Therapy.

For example, Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book, suggests that firstborns are more apt to look for neatness and orderliness in their housing preferences. “They are flaw pickers,” he told Apartment Therapy. “They’re going to notice paint chips on the walls or dirty rugs.”

They also tend to prefer places that offer independence and solitude, a possible reversal from the way they tended to be raised. A meta-analysis of birth-order studies suggests that firstborns have more anxiety from being under the constant watchful eye of anxious first-time parents. But on the flip side, they may choose to stay close because of that and live closer to home to help their family, Jovanovic says.

The middle child may display some of the fewest preferences in housing based on their upbringing, the studies note. “They roll with the punches because they never had mom or dad to themselves,” Leman says. “They endured hand-me-downs, so while the firstborn is attracted to neatness and landscaping, which has to be perfect, [these don’t] have to be [perfect] for the middle child.”

Middle children may be more flexible in their housing choices and may even show more willingness to share a condo with friends or choose a neighborhood based on social opportunities, Jovanovic says. Jovanovic says that middle children tend to be drawn to densely populated cities that provide more opportunities to socialize.

As for the youngest siblings, they are used to being around family members and likely will look for a community environment when picking a home, researchers note.

“The baby of the family who feeds off other people would prefer condos that are stacked on each other, apartments, or a place with a community pool where they can meet others,” says Leman.

Only children tend to share traits with firstborn children, Leman says. “They are not saying ‘I’m an only child so I’m going to live here,’ but as they go through life, a single home that’s sort of isolated on a hill is going to sound real good to an only child because they like solitude and quiet for the most part,” Leman says.

What Your Birth Order Might Say About Where You Live,” Apartment Therapy (May 7, 2019)