I wrote an article for Real Estate NJ a while back about how the suburbs are continuing to grow. What I hadn’t looked at is what is happening in urban centers. That was covered in a fascinating article that I just saw in The Atlantic.
New York, for example, saw it’s overall population shrink last year, attributable in large part to the dearth of families that are having children there. It seems that millennials are finally discovering that raising children in a city center is very difficult.
As recently as a few years ago, the experts were convinced that cities were the future and that millennials were different. They would refuse to give up city living and raise their children among the high rises. But it ignored a number of facts, including that millennials were having families later, the Great Recession delayed the ability of recent college graduates to start their careers and their families.
The suburbs are clearly ascendant, but they must be smart in order to take advantage and leverage this into additional growth. Towns must be willing to offer a diverse range of homes and price points. Fighting development at every turn to maintain “the character of the town” will only succeed in driving interest elsewhere. Towns that embrace multi-family housing and walkable downtowns, in addition to traditional one-family houses will be the first stop for families looking to move out of the city.
While families will move to the suburbs, city centers will still be hubs for companies and commerce. It is imperative that suburbs offer a robust infrastructure that provides real mass transportation commuting opportunities.