Suburbs Rule Locally, Even with Millennials

As reported by Comstock’s Magazine.

An excerpt.

Until the summer of 2015, Aaron and Jamie Duke, 37 and 27, were happy to be the picture of the urban millennial couple traveling light. They had an 800-square-foot apartment at Capitol Towers at 7th and N streets. That was less than three blocks from Jamie’s job at the State Board of Equalization, and they could walk to bars and restaurants. They had cars but would go days without driving. Most of their friends lived downtown too.

But then their daughter was born. They got a second dog. And pretty soon they were down to one aisle through their living room. Suddenly more room and a yard were pulling ahead of Jamie’s 5-minute walk to work on their priority list.

The Dukes were priced out of East Sacramento, where they first looked — $600,000 or so for the space they wanted. So instead, last June, they closed on a house in Roseville — 2,050 square feet, four bedrooms, three baths, and a garage and pool on a quarter-acre — for just over $400,000. Many of their peers are still downtown, but summer barbecues at the pool entice their friends into weekend party-commuting to their house. Now Jamie has a 1-hour drive in traffic to work. (Aaron manages the U.S. branch of a European company and was able to relocate their office to Roseville.) But they’re happy they made the move.

Millennials — people born between the early ‘80s and mid-’90s — have a deserved reputation for wanting to live in cities, own nothing, live in a tiny footprint, and bike and walk everywhere. But that track record may be situational. Now that they’re older and starting to have kids, the economics of schools and space are driving many of them to the suburbs, just as it did their parents.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far

Reports of millennials’ real estate behavior have largely focused on how different they are from their parents. A 2014 Nielsen report noted their heavy concentration within city limits in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Others have focused on their low homeownership rates.

Census data shows that nearly twice as many people ages 20 to 34 moved from cities to suburbs between 2015 and 2016 as did the opposite.

But recent data show that picture changing as they age. In a January 2016 survey by online housing database Zillow, of more than 10,000 households, nine out of 10 millennials said they want to buy a home sometime, and two-thirds expect to do so within the next five years. In 2015, a slight majority of millennial home buyers bought in the suburbs, according to a National Association of Realtors report released last March. Only 17 percent bought in an urban area, down from 21 percent the previous year. In a 2015 National Association of Home Builders survey of about 1,500 millennials, two of every three said they want to live in the suburbs — only one of four said they want to live in cities.

And Census data shows that nearly twice as many people ages 20 to 34 moved from cities to suburbs between 2015 and 2016 as did the opposite.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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