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Header image of Hong Kong financial center courtesy of hleung on flickr.

The resurrection of urban living

The Wall Street Journal (6/16, A18, Karp) reports, increasingly, people want to live in urban areas, a change of "a half-century-long pattern of how and where Americans live," due to demographic changes and economic trends such as higher gasoline prices. 

"The generational demands" of housing location from both baby boomers and millennials (those "born between the late 1970s and mid-1990s") are "in perfect sync." Getting ready to retire, baby boomers are looking to downsize their homes and simplify their lives in urban condos. Likewise, millennials are attracted by higher-density urban living, as a way of "rebelling the suburban cul-de-sac culture that pervaded their youth."  

Additionally, the subprime mortgage crisis and high gasoline prices are "delivering further gut punches by blighting remote subdivisions nationwide and rendering long commutes untenable for middle-class Americans," when the used-to-be drivable surbub has become "for many a mile too far." 

Some conceives that the drive for urban living may reverse the trend of urban sprawl and push for New Urbanism practices in land use and construction. Traffic behaviors will change accordingly: with the hasten demand of urban living, Americans may mimic "a European preference of public transportation."

Comments

People do want to live downtown, if there is housing there for them. Partly its that the city makes things easier like public transit, night life, everything is close by and you don't need to use a car as much.

Some surveys show that an investment in a single-family home in the city was the better investment choice over the past ten years versus a suburban single-family home, although both showed great appreciation.

Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is the spreading of a city and its suburbs over rural real estate at the fringe of an urban area. Residents of sprawling neighborhoods tend to live in single-family homes and commute by automobile to work

I think a big factor is that many downtowns have been revitalized and are much more livable and safer than was true in the 80's and 90's.


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