For generations of Americans, “success” meant life in the suburbs. Not anymore. Millennials are choosing city life in far greater percentages than their parents’ generation, according to several recent census studies.
There are a variety of reasons. The first: the economy. Unlike previous generations for which home ownership was a goal, most millennials now are too financially stretched to even consider buying a house, much less a house in the suburbs.
Class of 2013 graduates, according to CNN, average $35,200 in school debt. That makes investing in a new house or new car a pipe dream.
Not owning a car makes suburban or rural life almost impossible. So, young Americans, many of whom have poor or no credit, are teeming to the cities, where they rent, rather than own, apartments.
Employers are responding to this trend by moving corporate headquarters back into cities. A Jan. 3 article in The Wall Street Journal mentions two large pharmaceutical companies — Roche Holdings AG and Pfizer, Inc. — leaving suburban campuses to move back to city centers. This trend is occurring in smaller cities such as Austin, Texas, and Cleveland, Ohio, as well as larger cities.
City planners across America are bolstering city centers, and creating easier, greener transportation options such as bicycle paths and light rail to meet the trend’s needs. Other millennial-oriented trends like speakeasies and hipster hotels inevitably will spring up to cater to this newly centralized demographic.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, moving “back to the land” was considered the ultimate path to eco-friendly living. The irony: It’s actually greener to live in an urban environment that has a green infrastructure than out in the woods.
Maybe that’s why so many millennials look like lumberjacks!