More millennials are flocking to suburban areas of the country than ever before. Why is this trend happening in this generation, and what does it mean for the future of housing?
An FKD Feature exclusive

We’ve heard the saying “the future that liberals want” in memes and social media, usually as a response to social issues in the United States. But what about the future that millennials want? There is an interesting phenomenon in this generation that represents a powerful global trend — millennials may enjoy the city, but they love the suburbs.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 25- to 29-year-olds are about a quarter more likely to move from the city to the suburbs as vice versa; older millennials are more than twice as likely. This shift also indicates millennials’ readiness for the future of technology. In the future, drone delivery will be commonplace — it is something Amazon is already funding.

“Millennials make up about 10 percent of the nation’s homeowners. Nearly half of those were in the suburbs in 2016, 33 percent in urban areas and 20 percent in rural places,” according to Zillow’s Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends. The report used U.S. census data and a Zillow survey of more than 13,000 home buyers, sellers, owners and renters.” This means that even within suburban homeowners, homes in urban areas are outpacing homes in rural places.

Why Are Millennials Choosing the Suburbs?

Even with the rising costs of housing and college tuition, why is it that millennials are choosing the suburbs? The answer to this question may go back decades. “Between 1978 and 1990, there was a 32 percent increase in births, so now there are 32 percent more young adults in the city,” Dowell Myers, professor of demography and urban planning at the University of Southern California told Time, who has argued that the phenomenon of city-loving millennials is mostly a myth. “That upswing has led people to think that there’s a real change in taste, when there’s just a lot more young people born 25 years ago.”

Of millennial buyers who moved in the last year, 64 percent stayed in the same city, and just 7 percent moved to a different state, the Zillow study found. The cost of relocation within the same city is high — let alone another state. This makes it hard for wanderlusts who crave travel and exploration to do so.

“The Harvard study found homeownership rates for millennials were 5 percent higher in metro areas where median home prices were 20 percent below the national median. The idea was that if millennials could afford to buy a home, they would, and did so in low-cost markets such as Birmingham, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Louis,” according to the L.A. Times. According to this study, when millennials do in fact find a home, they are so enamored with the cost of living that they choose low-cost housing; the B-side to this is that many of the locations for these houses are in bad areas riddled with underfunded schools, high school-to-prison pipelines and economic embarrassment.


But nationally, homeownership isn’t looking too great for millennials, compared with past generations. In 2015, the homeownership rate for the under 35-year-old population hit an all-time low of 31 percent, according to the study. That’s down from 43 percent in 2005, the Harvard study said. Well, where are millennials living if not in houses? The answer is cities — but it’s not by choice. As a result of the 2008 financial crisis and its slow recovery, millennials are ‘stuck’ in cities. Declining wages and salaries, the closing of coveted industries and businesses and poor job prospects even for college graduates are all contributing factors to the ‘boxing in’ of millennials in cities.

As millennials grow older, they experience more economic freedom and find that cheaper options for living are available in American suburbia. This, however, indicates a “hollowing out” of sorts for cities culturally and economically. With the new appeal of the suburbs, cities are going to have to find a way to keep their young talent for the future.

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Header image: Getty Images


Posted 10.09.2017 - 11:00 am EST