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Are Millennials Changing Suburbia For Better or Worse?

Study after study shows that, currently, millennials are moving to the suburbs.  To clarify, millennials are moving to the suburbs at a much lower rate than previous generations. In the 90’s, people in the 25-29 age group moved to the suburbs at twice the rate of millennials. The hoopla comes from the fact that millennials who are buying homes are actually buying and moving to the suburbs. However the data also shows that today the twenty somethings are actually delaying their move to the “burbs” instead of foregoing it all together. To wit, 30 to 44 year old’s are moving to the suburbs at a much faster rate than in the 90’s.

There are many reasons why millennials are delaying real estate purchases – not the least of which is having to service mortgage-size student loans in an economy in which college grads’ under-employment is, unfortunately, the norm.

The term “suburb” itself has a very diffuse definition even by Census Bureau  standards and can mean anything from an area located in a city to something just shy of farm land.

So where exactly are millennials moving and what do they want in a home? 

Studies do not distinguish between  millennials who a prefer a very traditional set up – large, single-family home and the proverbial white picket fence versus the new faux-urban suburbia developments.

Jed Kolko, chief economist of the real estate site Trulia, states that the “fastest population growth right now is in the lowest-density neighborhoods, the suburb-iest suburbs”.

Before you jump at the conclusion that millennials are turning into survivalists and “living off the grid,” keep in mind that’s also precisely the kind of areas where the faux-urban developments are built, for obvious reasons such as land availability and price.

hipsters faux suburbiaWhat we do know is that millennials do like their city creature comforts such as walkability and transportation. This tends to put pressure on select parcels of land and it does meet with opposition.  The existing population that had moved there years ago seeking solitude and a less crowded environment are suddenly haunted by images of carefully coiffed bearded hipsters littering unaffordable coffee shops.

Interestingly opposition is also found among the government types who are complaining about a “velvet rope” effect, which they claim creates an atmosphere of “exclusivity.”  This is seen as such a”threat” to the social fabric of America by the Obama administration that they’ve actually spent millions of dollars to come up with a solution. Said solution involves spending even more millions of dollars to fix a problem that exits solely in the minds of the Obama administration.

Developers counter this claim with the obvious argument that they adhere and abide by the laws of the land and that home buyers are free to chose where they buy their homes based on affordability and whatever other criteria they might have.

Millennials buying in the suburbs is a reality that contradicts what the media has been reporting for quite some time. Just a couple of years back traditional wisdom was that millennials are buying in neighborhoods close to work and are buying properties to improve and flip for a profit. That may be true too and also it may be that the Gen Y reporters writing these stories are just projecting their own self fulfilling urban fantasy. Whatever the case may be, the facts are that millennials are following in their fathers’ and mothers’ footsteps out of the cities. While twenty-somethings are migrating to the burbs at a slower rate than previous generations, those in their thirties and older are making a bee line for the white picket fence at break neck speed.





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