On The Whole, Americans Still Prefer Suburbs To Cities

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The recent urban revival wasn’t a figment of your imagination, but suburbs have been, and remain, the more popular place to live

March 25, 2016

Photo Credit: David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons

Reading the news recently, you’d think that suburbs are becoming non-existent while cities are bursting at the seams with as many hip, young, trendy people as their apartments can hold and their public transportation can shuttle around.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, the rate at which Americans are moving to the suburbs is outpacing the rate at which they are moving to cities. This isn’t anything new either, it merely continues a decades long trend.

Most recently, in 2015, urban counties saw population growth of 0.8 percent to around 77 million people while suburban counties grew by almost 1 percent to bring their total population to around 159 million people (a county was defined as urban or suburban based on how dense their population was as of the 2010 census).

Suburbs outpacing cities isn’t some big reversal of fortune either. In 2006, spurred on by the easy mortgages of the housing boom, the suburbs grew by 1.5 percent and cities actually lost 0.4 percent of their population. In 2001, suburbs grew by about 1.2 percent while cities grew by about 0.7 percent. Whichever number you look at, the results are the same, suburbs outpace cities in terms of growth.

In fact, there was only one year during the last decade where cities actually outpaced suburbs; 2011. So, what has all this fuss about cities been about? Cities have undergone a revival, and many young, educated, affluent people have been moving there for the vibrant night scenes and socially connected way of life, but the keyword there is affluent. Cities have become so expensive that even if many people wanted to live within their borders, they couldn’t afford to.

While cities have undergone a revival and have seen young, hip people flock to them, the suburbs are still more attractive, viable, and convenient to a majority of people.

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