The Changing Shape of American Suburbs

Housing costs and availability are pushing more American households, including young families, to suburbs and exurbs — and they’re demanding changes.

1 minute read

February 13, 2024, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Aerial view of suburban sprawl with large single-family homes near Dallas, Texas.

Suburban sprawl near Dallas, Texas. | trongnguyen / Adobe Stock

Writing in Business Insider, Eliza Relman notes that “Most people in the US are suburbanites — and that likely won’t change anytime soon.” But that doesn’t mean suburbs and exurbs have to continue the unsustainable pattern of sprawl they have been known for for decades.

“As a suburb or exurb grows to accommodate more homes — which are mostly limited to detached single-family houses — roads grow, cars multiply, and the distance between someone’s house and their job, school, or grocery store stretches.” Consequently, “The challenge for urbanists, housing advocates, and anyone who cares about climate change is to figure out how to make the communities most Americans live in healthier for their inhabitants and the planet.”

Suburbs can change. They can become denser, more walkable, and more efficient, with mixed-use developments and essential needs within easy reach of residents. Already, restrictive zoning rules around the country are falling like dominoes as their impact on housing affordability becomes more evident.

According to the article, “all kinds of suburbs have the potential to free themselves from traffic and long commutes and create more vibrant neighborhoods. Suburbs need to prioritize loosening zoning laws, building more dense housing, and making it easier to get places without a car, experts say.”

Sunday, February 11, 2024 in Business Insider

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