Will Young Families Stay in Cities?

With their reputation for decent schools, lower crime, and affordable housing, suburbs can be an attractive prospect for young families. Can cities retain that demographic? Should they?

1 minute read

May 16, 2015, 1:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Young Family

Gareth Williams / Flickr

Millennials, as you've no doubt heard, are now starting families of their own. Having migrated to walkable urban centers while still childless (or "childfree" as some would have it), many of them may choose the suburbs as they tackle the responsibilities of parenting. 

In this piece, Jonathan O'Connell covers a panel discussion on this topic hosted by the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C. O'Connell writes, "Singles or couples with solid incomes and no children have been such a boon to urban areas that it's been suggested that tailoring a city's housing stock for families might not make economic sense."

One of the panelists warned that ignoring family needs has consequences: "If you build a city filled with efficiencies and one-bedrooms you are pushing people out at exactly the time that they are starting to put down roots and spend money."

Whether a neighborhood is considered urban or suburban, it may be that "the real factors that will prompt parents to decide where to live are the same as they have long been: schools and crime." Affordability probably belongs on that list as well.


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