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Millennials, Gen Y, The Suburbs and The National Housing Crisis

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Millennials, Gen Y, The Suburbs and The National Housing Crisis

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 198 total)
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  • #87468
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Six months ago we had an interesting discussion that revolved around an article titled “No McMansions for Millennials” that discussed how the new young generation would rebel against their boomer parents’ suburban lifestyles and seek something smaller, more sustainable and more urban:

    No McMansions for Millennials

    Here’s a couple of articles that are claiming the opposite. Thought they might be worthy of a new take on this topic:

    ARE MILLENNIALS THE SOLUTION TO THE NATION’S HOUSING CRISIS?

    by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais 07/17/2011

    The Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) represents not just the largest generation in American history but the largest potential market for both existing and new housing in the United States. There are over 95 million Millennials and over the next five years the first quarter of this cohort will enter their thirties, an age when people are most likely to buy their first home.

    Contrary to what is often written about this generation it is very much interested in owning a home, preferably in the suburbs.

    READ MORE: http://www.newgeography.com/content/002343-are-millennials-solution-nation’s-housing-crisis


    WHY AMERICA’S YOUNG AND RESTLESS WILL ABANDON CITIES FOR SUBURBS

    by Joel Kotkin 07/20/2011

    For well over a decade urban boosters have heralded the shift among young Americans from suburban living and toward dense cities. As one Wall Street Journal report suggests, young people will abandon their parents’ McMansions for urban settings, bringing about the high-density city revival so fervently prayed for by urban developers, architects and planners.

    Yet evidence from the last Census show the opposite: a marked acceleration of movement not into cities but toward suburban and exurban locations. The simple, usually inexorable effects of maturation may be one reason for this surprising result. Simply put, when 20-somethings get older, they do things like marry, start businesses, settle down and maybe start having kids.

    READ MORE: http://www.newgeography.com/content/002349-why-america’s-young-and-restless-will-abandon-cities-for-suburbs

    #453311

    ZHC
    Member

    You have to wonder though if that is truly the case whether they are choosing to locate in the suburbs because it’s best available option to them in terms of schools, existing housing stock, tax & financial incentives etc or whether that is actually the lifestyle they prefer.

    I think one has to be careful in assuming either answer without more conclusive evidence than what was presented in the article.

    At least in my experience I’ve met quite a few people say they want to live in the city until they see the price tag. And that’s usually the reason I’m given when they move out as well.
    For Columbus w/out a rapid transit system that makes it an even tougher sell.

    I’m sure it’s probably some combination of both aspects.

    #453312
    rus
    rus
    Participant

    ZHC said:

    At least in my experience I’ve met quite a few people say they want to live in the city until they see the price tag. And that’s usually the reason I’m given when they move out as well.

    Well that and having kids.

    #453313

    cc
    Member

    I think the school issue is huge. I know plenty of people who have moved out of the central city (especially OTE) when their children began to approach school age.

    Columbus City Schools – News, Updates, and Discussion

    #453314
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Yeah, I’ve heard schools as a bigger issue that pricetag as well. It’s not that hard to find an affordable home in the inner city, nor is it that hard to find an expensive home in the suburbs.

    #453315

    ZHC
    Member

    Walker said:
    Yeah, I’ve heard schools as a bigger issue that pricetag as well. It’s not that hard to find an affordable home in the inner city, nor is it that hard to find an expensive home in the suburbs.

    RE: schools
    no doubt and perhaps for the 35-44 demo that was mentioned in the article that was the number 1 reason.

    But more people than just new(er) parents do move out and I think schools issue is somewhat tied to the cost issue (if you like city living, private schools are an option assuming you can afford it)

    I do think there probably is a pretty different thought process for someone evaluating their living options currently living in a multiunit residential building in the CBD vs say someone living in a two story house in OTE.

    just my impression based on what customers have told me over the years.

    Not scientific by any means . And probably not a single factor kind of decision for most people anyway. :)

    #453316
    Tom Over
    Tom Over
    Participant

    If gasoline goes up to $10/gal how might that affect the desire to live in the suburbs and exurbs ?

    #453317

    cc
    Member

    TomOver said:
    If gasoline goes up to $10/gal how might that affect the desire to live in the suburbs and exurbs ?

    I think Laura Ingalls lived in a suburb. Her pops planted a lot of what they ate.

    #453318
    Josh Lapp
    Josh Lapp
    Participant

    I’m starting not to trust anything coming out of new geography. After the last HSR doomsday article and now this, im not sure if they are a reliable source. Also if you look at some of the people behind new geography they have a sketchy understanding of Urban Planning.

    #453319
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    TomOver said:
    If gasoline goes up to $10/gal how might that affect the desire to live in the suburbs and exurbs ?

    Well, if someone works in Dublin and gas shot up to $10/gal would it make sense for them to live a mile away from work in Dublin or relocate Downtown in an urban neighborhood with a 30 mile daily commute?

    A big gas price spike is going to make communities (both urban and suburban areas) “tighter” and will probably hurt the fringe exurban areas where houses have sprawled but jobs haven’t caught up but it won’t mean a mass exodus back to the inner city overnight.

    #453320
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    joshlapp said:
    I’m starting not to trust anything coming out of new geography.

    Yeah, take it with a grain of salt. I’ve found many of their editors to be heavily in the “sprawl = growth” school of thought, but they generally do provide a reasonable and logic-based explanation as to why they reach their conclusions. Never hurts to read an opinion that differs from your own, especially one that is thoughtful and grounded in reality.

    That being said, these “What are the Millennial Gonna Do Next?” type articles just seem to be buzzworthy speculation and they differ from opinion columnist to opinion columnist. Definitely worth of discussion and consideration, but I think at this point it’s hard for anyone to truly predict how this generation of people will operate in 10 more years.

    #453321

    Brookings came to a very different conclusion about Millenials’ interests and the trends they are setting:


    http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2011/0610_city_centers_leinberger.aspx">
    http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2011/0610_city_centers_leinberger.aspx

    —SNIP—

    In spite of the U.S. Census data for the past decade showing continued job de-centralization, there is now much anecdotal evidence for the just the opposite. The Chicago Crain’s Business Journal reports that companies such as Allstate, Motorola, AT&T, GE Capital, and even Sears are re-considering their fringe suburban locations, generally in stand alone campuses, and may head back to downtown Chicago. The irony of Sears possibly moving back to downtown could not be greater, having abandoned the country’s tallest building for an equally huge, though horizontal, building 45 miles from the Loop over 20 years ago.

    —SNIP—

    The reason in nearly every case? The millennial generation is demanding it. Highly-educated young workers, the life’s blood of many industries, have been flocking to center cities in recent years. Trying to recruit this talent to Stamford, Conn., or Hoffman Estates, Ill. is exceedingly difficult. They are voting with their feet for a hip, high-density walkable lifestyle and a reverse commute to the ‘burbs is not in the cards for most of them.

    The companies moved out to the suburbs to attract their baby boomer parents, raising their kids in suburban isolation. The millenials are doing what many generations have done in the past; they have rejected how they were raised. This once again shows that building a high quality residential base will lead to the attraction of jobs…only this time it is back to the future.

    Read more:
    http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2011/0610_city_centers_leinberger.aspx">
    http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2011/0610_city_centers_leinberger.aspx

    I’m sure the suburban house builders would dearly love it if Gen-Y dove head first into the same McMansion-focused image of the American Dream that their Boomer parents and grandparents embraced and desperately cling to. Of course, the Boomers themselves would similarly like to see that there is going to be someone willing to buy their homes so that they can comfortably retire to Arizona and Florida.

    For obvious reasons, there is a certain interest in maintaining, perpetuating and even foisting the status quo upon the next generation. I’m not actually accusing NewGeography of representing this interest, but I do have to wonder when I read articles like the one at the top of this thread what their real MO is. In all fairness, however, Brookings seems to have its own bias in favor of New Urbanism, so I guess it balances out.

    One additional thought. NG and conventional thinking often cites good schools as the reason why the Millenials/Gen-Y will eventually embrace suburbia, but this is pre-2007 crash logic at work. if you look at the budget cuts going on in most states, even the wealthiest districts are getting slammed with budget cuts and deficits that are leading to major program cuts and teacher layoffs. Urban districts have struggled with limited resources for years. Now the suburban districts are getting a crash course in what its like to be asked to do much more with increasingly less of everything. A few may continue to shine through it all, but most will buckle under the demands, and then the last clear advantage that the suburbs wield over urban core communities will be eliminated.

    #453322
    Jason Powell
    Jason Powell
    Participant

    TomOver said:
    If gasoline goes up to $10/gal how might that affect the desire to live in the suburbs and exurbs ?

    Have you read “$20 a gallon”? The guy makes some really good arguments. The higher price of oil will dictate almost every facet of life in the next few decades. I have a feeling it’s going to be a rough ride.

    #453323

    manticore33
    Participant

    I am still wondering the impact of telework and remote work opportunities when companies finally “lighten up” about it. For instance, I could technically do me complete job at home with access through a VPN and a secondary phone line. Fortunately, I work relatively close (11 miles) to home and car-pool with three other people. This would break down the importance of geographical location for work.

    Living urban, suburban, and rural lifestyles have benefits and disadvantages. No one single living experience has it all. As a semi-millennial (born in 1981), I venture more towards a hybrid small town/rural lifestyle. However, I tend to be abnormal in that regard and have strong urges to take even more control of the foods I eat by going into my own food production which needs land (I so want to plant an orchard and keep physically fit through agricultural work :D ).

    Frankly, I am scared of high, high oil prices. Not just in the cost of gasoline, but in the perverse use of plastic in everything (which does not recycle as well as metals and glass and plastic degrades in quality each time you recycle it). In addition to the impacts on agriculture since most agriculture is intimately tied with oil from petrochemicals to transportation costs.

    From the food and energy perspective, how are we going to serve and feed these great, great dense cities? Especially in the South and Southwest which imports a tremendous amount of water and electricity to fight the natural climate.

    #453324

    gramarye
    Participant

    BuckeyeShadow said:
    One additional thought. NG and conventional thinking often cites good schools as the reason why the Millenials/Gen-Y will eventually embrace suburbia, but this is pre-2007 crash logic at work. if you look at the budget cuts going on in most states, even the wealthiest districts are getting slammed with budget cuts and deficits that are leading to major program cuts and teacher layoffs. Urban districts have struggled with limited resources for years. Now the suburban districts are getting a crash course in what its like to be asked to do much more with increasingly less of everything. A few may continue to shine through it all, but most will buckle under the demands, and then the last clear advantage that the suburbs wield over urban core communities will be eliminated.

    School funding cuts matter, but it’s the student body, not the lavishness of the facilities, that really makes or breaks a school. The graduating class at Columbus Academy was probably going to be fairly successful even if its school building were just an old barn somewhere. Even with the massive funding cuts the wealthier school districts will get under Kasich’s school budget, Upper Arlington and Dublin will be better districts than Columbus Public or South-Western, and within Columbus Public, Centennial will be better than Briggs.

    The Millennials moving back to the inner cities generally aren’t quite yet at the age when their children are beginning school. We have yet to see what the currently-competing desires of good schools for their children and walkable urban lifestyles will lead them to do at that time. Of course, those two desires are not fundamentally at odds; they’re just at odds given the current lay of the land. Many suburbs are aware of this, and are beginning to plan “town center” type developments that aim to offer Millennials at least a small area of a given suburb (and one good thing about high-density development is that it doesn’t require a huge area) with a dense, walkable lifestyle, while still offering good, established school districts.

    Cities, in the meantime, are trying to resolve the difference by offering educational options that allow more active parents with higher ambitions for their children an alternative to the traditional public school system, while continuing to offer the positive urban energy and environment that many cities have built or rebuilt since the 1980s and ’90s. Thus, we have schools like Columbus Alternative (founded around 1980) and its imitators. Charter schools have become a growing industry. Voucher programs have grown in other cities, though they have not been fully embraced anywhere yet.

    I tend to agree with the posters above who have been somewhat skeptical of the article. I think that we will gradually–and against the entrenched resistance of much of the public educational establishment–see a renaissance in education options available to urban residents. I also think that resource constraints will begin to squeeze the suburbs–both government resource constraints (i.e., tax revenue) and natural resource constraints (i.e., peak oil). And my experience comports more with the Brookings view of our generation than the NewGeography one; while the majority of my generation may want a house in the suburbs, it’s a smaller majority than the majority of our parents’ generation that wanted a house in the suburbs, and the change is what matters, particularly given how much suburban housing is already out there.

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