Once a City Dweller, Always a City Dweller?

    Just how strong is the long-term allure of the city to young people today? Sure, cities don’t have the great public schools and the super-safe streets of the suburbs and small towns. But what if it doesn’t matter, because other factors like expensive student loans will dictate people’s long-term choices?

    In a recent column, Alan Mallach questioned whether the millennials’ love for the big city will keep them there once they have kids and want to buy a house.

    Certainly a lot of the predictions that this generation is totally different from its predecessors, that these young people are wedded to the city for good, are made without the use of much data. It’s too early to have much in the way of data—the big recession that supposedly triggered a lot of these dramatic changes only hit a few years ago, after all.

    Still, the speculation is interesting. The latest twist is to project that millennials will stay in the cities because they will still be there well into their 30s. Why? Because they have so much student loan debt, which will cause them to delay buying that home in the ‘burbs. Then, by the time they finally are ready to have a family and buy a place, they will have lived in the city so long they won’t be able to fathom leaving.

    Here’s a bit on that particular theory:

    The biggest problem is student loan debt, shifting the age of first-time home buying from the early to the late thirties. Only 37 percent of householders under age 35 are homeowners, the lowest rate on record for the age group. By the time they can afford to buy a home, younger generations will be accustomed to city life and may not be willing to trade urban amenities for suburban sprawl.

    (Photo by Cameron Grant CC BY-NC-ND)

    David Holtzman is a planner for Louisa County, Virginia, a freelance writer, and a former Shelterforce editor.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.