For the first time in nearly 100 years, large American inner-cities are growing much faster than their surrounding suburbs. This is happening as Generation Y avoids home buying and opts for smaller spaces and shorter commutes.
According to new estimates from the 2011 census, young adults are delaying marriage, kids, and major career changes due to high unemployment rates. College debt, low-wage jobs, and temporary positions are making home ownership much less appealing, and studio apartments near downtown public transportation much more inviting.
Americans aged 18 to 29 make up 1 in 6 of the population, and the label “generation rent” is encouraging many apartment developers to appeal to this particular group. As less dependency on cars appears to be a growing trend as well, putting up affordable housing in dense urban areas is a smart economic move for these builders.
The last time cities grew more rapidly than surrounding suburbs was prior to 1920, before affordable automobiles came into the market and provided sufficient means for living outside the city.
New Orleans experienced a serious population decline in the mid-2000s as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but has since seen the biggest rebound in city growth (3.7 percent) in comparison to the suburbs (0.6 percent) over the last year. Denver, Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, and Washington D.C. have also shown considerably large differences in these numbers. Popular cities such as Chicago, New York, and Seattle have also experienced faster growth over the last decade.
Primary cities within a thriving metropolis with a population of more than 1 million grew by an average of 1.1 percent last year, compared to 0.9 percent in surrounding areas.
If you live in a downtown area, you’ve probably noticed civic leaders and business owners promoting spaces in a way that is attractive to young, educated professionals in their 20s and 30s. High-rise apartments, sidewalk cafes, independently owned coffee shops, and bicycle lanes are becoming crucial to cities wanting to keep the younger generation coming in and staying.
I live in downtown Detroit so it’s not exactly a thriving metropolis by any means, but the addition of these things in various neighborhoods across the city means more and more areas outside of downtown proper are becoming more attractive to young apartment dwellers. Add in downtown business opportunities, bike-friendly streets and hip lofts at affordable prices and it’s no surprise so many of us Gen-Y kids want to get in on the experience.
Do you live in a bustling urban area? What motivated you to move there?