It seems that there is a stigma around this statement, especially with first-time homebuyers or those who have previously always been “city dwellers”, who can’t imagine trading city living for suburbia. However, current research continues to show that, more and more, homebuyers are moving to the suburbs of large metro cities instead of staying within city centers. And for good reasons. Let’s explore how the suburbs have evolved since the first big boom in development and how suburban living is coming back in full force – with a little modern twist.
The Rise of the Suburbs
Looking at the urban versus suburban lifestyles of today, it’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have this residential duality. However, the “suburbs” as we know them today only really manifested during the cultural and economic shifts of the 1950s. Growing families, stable incomes, a strong economy, and a wave of affordable housing developments on the outskirts of metro areas, all contributed to America’s first move towards suburbanization.
These suburban homes were especially attractive to post-war families because of their revolutionary floorplans, which often did away with formal dining rooms in favor of more informal, open family rooms and larger backyard spaces, allowing families to spend more time together.
The Suburbs are on the Rise Once Again
So, what’s causing the resurgence of the suburbs? People in their early 20s are typically attracted to the hustle and bustle of a city, whether it be because of the location of a college, a higher concentration of jobs, or simply to be able to experience the culture and nightlife these locales have to offer. But, a shift in residence is predicted, and has already started.
Dowell Myers, an urban planning professor, has been cited in The Urban Edge saying that the U.S. has hit “Peak Millennial” – where the largest cohort of the generation (those born in 1990) have turned 27 this year. If we look at the typical major drivers of home ownership, we see large life-changing moments are often the impetus: landing a promotion or new job, getting married, or having a baby. Taking a look at the data, if marriage continues to be a large predictor of becoming a homeowner, this large group of Millennials, and those slightly older, are reaching that pivotal age – now.
But, the Trend Isn’t Just Because of Millennials
While younger buyers hitting the market for the first time may be one of the drivers of the move to the suburbs, the trend doesn’t stop with them. Gen Xers and those who may have previously owned a home are becoming more established in their careers and financial situations and are often looking to buy a larger home (one of the biggest regrets of first time homebuyers is not purchasing a large enough home) or one that more fully fits the needs of their household. And, often, the suburbs are where those options are available, and more affordable.
As we can see, interest in the suburbs is rising as homebuyers are willing to migrate outside of metro-city areas to achieve the lifestyle, and home, they desire. Increasingly, and potentially un-surprisingly, the home and neighborhood preferences of neighborhoods of homebuyers today mirror that of a 1950s family, and all can be found in a suburban area.
- Safe neighborhood
- Outdoor space
- Multi-generational living options
- Proximity to good schools
- A built-in community
And with these desirable attributes in mind, we’re seeing buyers move further and further outside the city to find the home they want. As illustrated in the graph below, people are showing a willingness, and desire, to move to lower density suburbs – which have recently experienced the fastest growth rate since 2008, while the growth of big cities has slowed.
The New Suburban Lifestyle
But, don’t let the “lower-density suburbs” name fool you, these suburban-dwellers aren’t looking for a quiet life in the countryside. Along with moving to the outskirts of metro areas, this wave of suburbanites is a group looking to tailor the suburban lifestyle to their needs.
Village Cities: Inclusive Suburban Communities
While homebuyers are willing to move further away from metropolitan areas, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready and willing to give up the amenities and activities an established region has to offer. Because of this, we see an increase in suburban neighborhoods offering built-in communities and shared amenities.
Think about being welcomed into a community that not only features the friendly neighborhood streets a suburb may offer, but is built around a community club house and pool, boasts different playgrounds for children to take advantage of and may even feature a community farm or garden! Typically referred to as “master-planned communities,” these developments offer inhabitants a seemingly all-inclusive mini city experience or personal village they share with their immediate neighbors.
Many of these village city communities take cues from the area they are in, extending the vibe that makes the region special and packaging it in a way that is attractive and available to its residents. For example, The Cannery, a master-planned community located in Davis, California, takes cues from the region’s agricultural focus and offers homeowners a shared farm that is available for their use – a true farm to table experience each day.
Similarly, Baker Ranch, in Lake Forest, California offers residents a tranquil experience, embodying the coastal living Southern California has to offer. Residents of Baker Ranch have access to shared pool, BBQ and clubhouse amenities, plenty of trails on which to enjoy the SoCal sun, and even a dog park and private school right in the community.
And, these village-style communities aren’t just for California, out in Texas, Sienna Plantation offers residents the ability to connect with one another at their own Farmer’s Market, waterparks, 18-hole golf course and expansive parks and walking trails.
We foresee more and more of a move toward suburban living, especially as homeowners gravitate to communities with built-in amenities meant to keep everything they’d ever need and want close – just like the
city used to.
What are your thoughts about suburban living? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and if you’re interested in exploring more master-planned communities, visit SheaHomes.com to see where we build!