Birth Order: What it Might Mean About Where You Will Choose to Live

July 16, 2019

- By Shelby O'Hare

There’s an ad for diapers that does a great job demonstrating how birth order has the potential to shape members of the same family. In the ad, a little girl asks if she can hold her aunt’s first baby. The aunt hands the girl a jumbo bottle of hand sanitizer. The commercial then cuts to the aunt handing her second child to her grease-covered auto mechanic while she searches through her bag for her checkbook to pay for her car repairs. While the ad was selling diapers, it highlights the contrasting upbringing of both kids by the same parents. This is not to say that one way is necessarily correct, but the development and personalities of the kids can likely differ as a result.

Birth order characteristics are not “one size fits all.” There are many other influencing factors that can shape the environment you would ideally like to live in, including; gender, family values, ethnicity, and many others. Apartment Therapy Magazine interviewed Ana Jovanovic from ParentingPod, an online resource for parents on mental health and well-being, and Dr. Kevin Leman, author of “The Birth Order Book” to try and understand if your birth order will determine where you want to live. And while birth order isn’t a perfect science, you can use this information to hopefully get a better understanding of the personality of your clients and how that can influence their buying behaviors.

Oldest Children

First born children are more likely to develop anxious traits from being under the supervision of new and anxious parents. Because of this type of upbringing, they are likely to prefer homes that can offer them independence and solitude, a stark contrast from the environment they grew up in. Jovanovic told Apartment Therapy that the oldest child inherits the nurturing behaviors of their parents, and they feel responsible for taking care of the people they care about because it was done to them to such a degree when growing up. Being the oldest of four, I can understand the need to be away and the need to prove my independence to the people around me. However, I do find myself missing the comfort of constantly being around my parents and my siblings.

Middle Children

Middle children have the opportunity to learn and grow from the mistakes of their older siblings. They have the flexibility and composure to live just about anywhere. “They roll with the punches because they never had mom and dad to themselves,” says Dr. Leman. “They endured hand-me- downs so while the first born are attracted to neatness and landscaping, which has to be perfect, [these don’t] have to be [perfect] for the middle child.”

Youngest Children

Youngest children crave the social element, similar to that of middle children. “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,” Dr. Leman revealed to Apartment Therapy. However, “A Review of 200 Birth-Order Studies: Lifestyle Characteristics” discusses that another factor that influences behavior is gender. For example, I am the oldest of three girls and one boy. My brother is the youngest overall, yet my youngest sister shares more of the qualities of the youngest child than my brother does. This is likely because my youngest sibling is a boy, he was treated the way a first-born child would have been treated. Raising a boy was new territory for my parents meaning clothes that weren’t hand me downs. My brother is only 10 years old, but he is very similar to me.

Only Children

An only child likely inherited anxiousness from his/her parents and also strives to live somewhere they can experience independence. They tend not to have the desire to live with other people because they grew up not having to share anything with siblings and would prefer solitude. “Those who are ‘onlys’ have a tendency to share the personality characteristics with the first born,” said Leman. “…as they go through life, a single home that’s sort of isolated on a hill is going to sound really good to an only child because they like solitude and quiet for the most part,” says Leman.