View Full Version : Are Millenials really more likely to move to cities?



Montreal
04-07-2015, 02:06 PM
I hadn't seen this posted anywhere but FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver's data-driven blog, has a couple of interesting posts on whether Millenials, and people in general are really moving to cities at a faster clip than historic trends:

Think Millennials Prefer The City? Think Again. | FiveThirtyEight (http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/think-millennials-prefer-the-city-think-again/)
Why Millennials Are Less Urban Than You Think | FiveThirtyEight (http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-millennials-are-less-urban-than-you-think/)

The quick answer is that Millenials, as a whole, are more likely to move from cities to suburbs than move from suburbs to cities. However, that gap has shrunk by about half since the 90s where 25-29 year olds were twice as likely to move to suburbs than the other way around. The first story was very narrow in scope, so they did a broader feature on it that found that, out of Millenials (defined here as 2534 year olds) as a whole, it's really just those with bachelor degrees or higher that are living in urban areas at a greater rate (from 20002013). In fact, the full adult population was less likely to live in urban areas in 2013 than 2000.

This conclusion is somewhat (but not overly so) surprising to me. I would like to see the data broken up more granularly and analyzed over a longer term to see the shape of the trends a little better though. One could draw a variety of conclusions on the cause of this and what it means based on his/her individual perspective and biases. I think it's a great start to a more thoughtful discussion on the topic and what it means for OKC.

This isn't something I've seen discussed in the wider urban development circles, which I assume is because it bucks the prevailing trend to some degree. There's only so much weight that one study on the subject can hold and should be viewed in the greater context, including real estate trends, opinion polls, and primary city data. I think it's valuable to seek out contradicting information to your own beliefs and understanding though.

LakeEffect
04-07-2015, 02:40 PM
It's a very interesting area of demographic study. Some people use the data to say that no, cities aren't making a comeback and people still want suburbs. The answer, as usual, is so much more nuanced. As the FiveThirtyEight data shows, certain demographics ARE more urban than before. But the analysis is a historical analysis. It doesn't look into the more detailed questions of "why" and "how." Contrast it to surveys of where do people WANT to live and you might get different options. Take it even deeper - what does the suburban area or urban area LOOK like that people are moving into? Are they the standard, car-dependent areas, or are the popular suburbs more walkable and less car-dependent? Finally, look at income levels and who can afford to live more urban. The rising Adults w/ Bachelor's Degrees trend shows that those that can afford urban life are moving. What if more housing was available in urban areas, and what if it was cheaper? Would the All Adults trend line move upward?

bchris02
04-08-2015, 10:45 AM
Why Millennials are avoiding small town America (http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/why-millennials-are-avoiding-small-town-america/34058[)

I think its pretty safe to say millennials for the most part prefer major metropolitan areas to rural/small town America. In terms of whether they are choosing a suburban environment or a compact urban environment is a little less cut and dry.

Teo9969
04-08-2015, 11:18 AM
Something I feel like I've noticed, at least in this area of the country, the 20s/30s/40s residential areas are exploding with reinvestment, a lot of that coming from young people or land-lords renting out to young people. These 20s/30s/40s residential developments usually don't fall within the bounds of "Urban Area". In OKC they are the Jefferson Parks, Putnam Heights, Crown/Edgemere, Cleveland, Shepard, etc.

The problem is, though they don't fall in the bounds of "Urban" they are a far shot from the suburban we're talking about at NW 122nd and Rockwell. It's essentially the in-between.

I think we need to keep that in mind when we talk about suburban/urban issues as well. I'd love to live downtown, but I'm never going to spend that kind of money when it's plenty practical to live 2-5 miles away from the action and have access via a variety of transportation methods: Public, Biking, Walking, Personal automobile.

One of the more interesting things to me is that Major corporations are choosing relocations based on how quality the public transportation system is, particularly rail. So even if someone lives in the suburbs, they could ostensibly live life with far less need of a car than normal.

Montreal
04-08-2015, 01:24 PM
I agree completely that Urban=only CBD/urban core and that Suburban=only sprawling D.R. Horton subdivisions off of an arterial in North Edmond are fallacious and unproductive ways to discuss and understand the issue. Traditionally developed, older streetcar communities are a great example of suburban communities that check most of the new-urbanism boxes (reliable transit opportunities being the key question mark in most places) I don't know how FiveThirtyEight defines urban vs. suburban; I haven't had the chance to delve into their source data or methodology. I do think it's very incomplete on it's own, but it does do a good job sparking further conversation into this phenomenon of re-urbanization we've been experiencing across the nation and at home.

I will add an anecdote from my peer group (late 20s, male, college educated). I've keep in touch with a sizable group from college, and they all have a fairly liberally-defined term for urban vs. suburban. Friends who have purchased older, single family homes in traditionally designed neighborhoods (in OKC: Mesta Park, Gatewood, and Edgemere; also a few in St. Louis and Dallas-proper) all consider themselves to be living in an "urban" environment. And I wouldn't disagree with them. They also see their living in places like The Hill and urban apartment complexes (even if they're not very walkable, garden-style apartment complexes but urbanly located) as urban living as well, which is the more typical characterization. Those who live in suburban north Dallas, Edmond, and Norman all see themselves as living in a suburban environment and are quite happy about it. Since we are all college educated and probably make decent money, we have the means to choose where we want to live for the most part.

A small majority of those peers living in "urban" locales are single vs. married whereas pretty much all of those living in suburban areas are married. It's even mixed when it comes to buying vs renting. A decent number of those living in urban areas have purchased a home (single-family for the most part, but a few condo and townhomes as well)—enough to where it feels like they're bucking the typical trend of settling in the 'burbs when one gets married. However, one approaching issue that has close to consensus is the issue of living in an urban city and schooling. I can't think of one friend (or friend's wife) that entertains the notion of staying in a major city when they have school-aged children unless they can afford private school (which most agree isn't an option). Even charter schools are widely disregarded since their lottery admissions make it an uncertainty. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that OKC and Dallas public schools aren't even on the table. If the quality and perception of these school districts aren't improved drastically, the only ones of my peers left in the cities will be perpetual bachelors and married couples who choose to not have kids. Another attractive alternative would be to increase the urbanism and traditional neighborhood development options in the suburbs.

And just so y'all know, I am married and am quite decidedly in the urban-living camp for a variety of reasons. I'd even like to stay in an urban environment once we start a family, but again, quality schooling is a very important determining factor that will affect our decision. My wife and I will sacrifice our quality of life for the future prospects of our children, even if in reality it's a false-choice. It's not something that anyone I know is willing to take a gamble on.

In my opinion, cities should do their best to be for families first. A city that supports family-living (whether it's in a high-rise apartment, townhouse, or single-family home) would also support the needs of the rest of the population with a much more resilient community. The path I see shaping is one where urban parts of cities are designed primarily for affluent, well-educated singles and empty nesters looking to downsize, and this worries me.

bchris02
04-08-2015, 01:44 PM
Do you think the single vs married dynamic of urban and suburban life is different in OKC vs other cities?

What I have discovered in OKC is that if you are looking for an active life as a single adult or married without kids, you will be spending most of your time in the urban core. Suburban areas are almost entirely families with children or older people. In Charlotte on the other hand that was not the case. While the urban core including uptown and the surrounding districts was certainly the most popular, there were a lot of young professionals opting for suburban locales with Ballantyne being the most popular. There is also a lot of hybrid urban/suburban development going up along the light rail line similar to what you see in DFW that is targeted towards millennials.

Spartan
04-08-2015, 04:02 PM
I agree completely that Urban=only CBD/urban core and that Suburban=only sprawling D.R. Horton subdivisions off of an arterial in North Edmond are fallacious and unproductive ways to discuss and understand the issue. Traditionally developed, older streetcar communities are a great example of suburban communities that check most of the new-urbanism boxes (reliable transit opportunities being the key question mark in most places) I don't know how FiveThirtyEight defines urban vs. suburban; I haven't had the chance to delve into their source data or methodology. I do think it's very incomplete on it's own, but it does do a good job sparking further conversation into this phenomenon of re-urbanization we've been experiencing across the nation and at home.

I will add an anecdote from my peer group (late 20s, male, college educated). I've keep in touch with a sizable group from college, and they all have a fairly liberally-defined term for urban vs. suburban. Friends who have purchased older, single family homes in traditionally designed neighborhoods (in OKC: Mesta Park, Gatewood, and Edgemere; also a few in St. Louis and Dallas-proper) all consider themselves to be living in an "urban" environment. And I wouldn't disagree with them. They also see their living in places like The Hill and urban apartment complexes (even if they're not very walkable, garden-style apartment complexes but urbanly located) as urban living as well, which is the more typical characterization. Those who live in suburban north Dallas, Edmond, and Norman all see themselves as living in a suburban environment and are quite happy about it. Since we are all college educated and probably make decent money, we have the means to choose where we want to live for the most part.

A small majority of those peers living in "urban" locales are single vs. married whereas pretty much all of those living in suburban areas are married. It's even mixed when it comes to buying vs renting. A decent number of those living in urban areas have purchased a home (single-family for the most part, but a few condo and townhomes as well)—enough to where it feels like they're bucking the typical trend of settling in the 'burbs when one gets married. However, one approaching issue that has close to consensus is the issue of living in an urban city and schooling. I can't think of one friend (or friend's wife) that entertains the notion of staying in a major city when they have school-aged children unless they can afford private school (which most agree isn't an option). Even charter schools are widely disregarded since their lottery admissions make it an uncertainty. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that OKC and Dallas public schools aren't even on the table. If the quality and perception of these school districts aren't improved drastically, the only ones of my peers left in the cities will be perpetual bachelors and married couples who choose to not have kids. Another attractive alternative would be to increase the urbanism and traditional neighborhood development options in the suburbs.

And just so y'all know, I am married and am quite decidedly in the urban-living camp for a variety of reasons. I'd even like to stay in an urban environment once we start a family, but again, quality schooling is a very important determining factor that will affect our decision. My wife and I will sacrifice our quality of life for the future prospects of our children, even if in reality it's a false-choice. It's not something that anyone I know is willing to take a gamble on.

In my opinion, cities should do their best to be for families first. A city that supports family-living (whether it's in a high-rise apartment, townhouse, or single-family home) would also support the needs of the rest of the population with a much more resilient community. The path I see shaping is one where urban parts of cities are designed primarily for affluent, well-educated singles and empty nesters looking to downsize, and this worries me.

The problem is that saying cities should cater to families first is a very loaded concept. To many people, including myself, that means that cities should be healthy, green, walkable, and interesting places to grow up. To others, that means that a place should be stifling and conservative. When we talk about being "family friendly" we all apply our own ideas of family, so I'm not sure that the debate wouldn't be better served by using more specific language as proxy.

I would argue that some of the most family-friendly places in the nation are Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco even. I just say that because I would rather raise my kids there, but my kids will probably have a much more active upbringing than most. I think kids especially need to be raised with diversity, or else we will keep seeing new generations of latent racists.

It's also worth pointing out that in many states, the suburbs are actually more "urban" than the central cities. This is true for Ohio (Cleveland Heights > Cleveland) and Michigan (Royal Oak > Detroit). Back east, suburbs are often historic areas that are more comparable to Mesta Park or Crown Heights, and are therefor highly desirable to active young families. These suburbs usually even have rail transit, so I'm frankly not sure what more you could ask for.

It's true that these things are very nuanced, but it shouldn't be hard to realize that Millenials now want to raise families, too. Those same urbanists need good urban schools and parks. It's also true that people's behavior is a function of what the market can support. Urban living is still a very small niche in OKC, and the market is still out in the suburbs. To live urban, in OKC, you have to row against some very powerful market forces. Perhaps it is better for your family to go with the flow?

We need more urban activism in OKC. People voted with their feet and moved downtown, and beyond the elementary school, we still couldn't get proper infrastructure in the downtown area. Streets generally have to wait for redevelopment on their block in order to get repaved. We should at least apply the same rules to the rest of the city.

AP
04-08-2015, 05:17 PM
I detest the thought of moving to the suburbs because the schooling is not good enough in the city. That is just going to keep the cycle moving forward. If we want good schools in the city we are going to have to be the generation that actually does something about it.

Just the facts
04-08-2015, 08:17 PM
I Another attractive alternative would be to increase the urbanism and traditional neighborhood development options in the suburbs.


This is the number one reason why I oppose park and ride rail stations. The goal of mass transit should be to encourage and facilitate density around the station, preferably in or directly adjacent to historic downtowns, and not to make sprawl easier. It is also why I prefer neighborhood-based bus systems and not the grid style system so many people on OKTalk seem to prefer.

dankrutka
04-08-2015, 08:20 PM
Definitions of quality schools are highly correlated with income level. If people with more money move to city centers and start sending their kids to those schools, the schools will be viewed as better and probably have more money, resources, etc. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case that I won't go into here...

John Rex is a good example of addressing this issue by starting a new public charter (not a for-profit corporate charter) with significant community and corporate support. Hopefully this leads to middle and high schools in the core and eventually once their is economic diversity the charters can simply be re-integrated into the district.

In short, the biggest obstacle urban schools face is poverty. It is crippling and presents many obstacles for students, teachers, families, and communities when concentrated too highly in specific communities. We need economic diversity in school communities and districts.

bluedogok
04-08-2015, 08:29 PM
I always viewed as more of a "tree ring" effect. Most would prefer to live in an "inner ring" than they would an outer ring. In most places the urban core is too expensive to buy in because the majority of what is built is higher end and there isn't an existing stock to move down market because it was never built or was torn down for parking lots or commercial uses in the out migration from the cities in the post WWII era. Most that I work with have no illusions about buying in urban Denver, the condo defects law passed in 2001 has stalled all but high end construction. Not just in Denver but in Fort Collins and the mountain towns as well. Most are looking 4-5 miles out of the CBD.

BG918
04-08-2015, 08:39 PM
Most that I work with have no illusions about buying in urban Denver, the condo defects law passed in 2001 has stalled all but high end construction. Not just in Denver but in Fort Collins and the mountain towns as well. Most are looking 4-5 miles out of the CBD.

What ages are those looking 4-5 miles from the CBD? The Millenials I know in Denver all live in urban Denver. Just like most of the Millenials I know in OKC. The majority are married, and over half have a child. Whether they stay in the urban neighborhoods is yet to be seen but most probably will. My age group is 28-34.

bchris02
04-08-2015, 08:53 PM
What ages are those looking 4-5 miles from the CBD? The Millenials I know in Denver all live in urban Denver. Just like most of the Millenials I know in OKC. The majority are married, and over half have a child. Whether they stay in the urban neighborhoods is yet to be seen but most probably will. My age group is 28-34.

I am not sure if Denver and OKC are directly comparable in this regard. The urban core of Denver is probably 25-30 years ahead of downtown OKC and its probably not uncommon to be priced out unless you have a very high income. That is the case in many other "hip" cities like Austin, Seattle, Charlotte, etc. The good thing is most of these larger markets are multipolar so young professionals have options for urban living other than downtown. Sometimes that can be several miles from the CBD.

BG918
04-09-2015, 01:18 PM
It is true that those that I know are priced out of downtown and adjacent neighborhoods when it comes to buying. I know a few that rent in those locations though and pay a significant premium to be close to work and restaurants, bars etc. Those that have bought places have been looking at the gentrifying neighborhoods a couple miles around downtown Denver like Sunnyside (comparable to a Classen-Ten-Penn), Whittier and North Park Hill. These are still somewhat rough neighborhoods in parts but it's still somewhat affordable and has close proximity to downtown. It remains to be seen whether or not they stay in these areas as the kids go to school. I hope so because that's the kind of change these schools need to get better.

Montreal
04-09-2015, 04:51 PM
The problem is that saying cities should cater to families first is a very loaded concept. To many people, including myself, that means that cities should be healthy, green, walkable, and interesting places to grow up. To others, that means that a place should be stifling and conservative. When we talk about being "family friendly" we all apply our own ideas of family, so I'm not sure that the debate wouldn't be better served by using more specific language as proxy.

I would argue that some of the most family-friendly places in the nation are Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco even. I just say that because I would rather raise my kids there, but my kids will probably have a much more active upbringing than most.

You make a good point about the term "family friendly." My definition is closely aligned with yours of one that people from all age groups would find appealing. I'll try to find a better term in the future to express that better.

The point I was trying to make is that I worry we are trying to cater to the large demographic forces of empty nested baby boomers and childless millennials to the detriment of parents of children (infants to 18 year olds). While it would be stupid to ignore either of those groups, not making urban areas (whether they're downtown, surrounding neighborhoods, or suburbs) appealing to the big middle part of people's lives is a mistake as well. Public investments like better schools, more playgrounds in parks, and civic recreation amenities (pools, basketball courts etc.) should hopefully lead to private investments like more diverse housing stock and more grocery stores (I assume families use grocery stores more than childless adults but don't have data to support that). Things like that help to better round out neighborhoods as a whole. My goal would to make downtown (and any urban neighborhood) a home to a diverse community vs. a playground for the young or pied--terre for the old. Well rounded neighborhoods can have a healthy bar scene and other nightlife embedded in them. God knows parents need those amenities too :).

Tying back to the original articles I posted, we need to do better attracting more than just college-educated 20 somethings (all that the data say are moving at this point). This includes people with diverse education backgrounds, income levels, and family makeups, otherwise I fear this momentum will be lost once those college-educated millennials decide to "grow up" and move out to the burbs.

Montreal
04-09-2015, 05:17 PM
Definitions of quality schools are highly correlated with income level. If people with more money move to city centers and start sending their kids to those schools, the schools will be viewed as better and probably have more money, resources, etc. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case that I won't go into here...

John Rex is a good example of addressing this issue by starting a new public charter (not a for-profit corporate charter) with significant community and corporate support. Hopefully this leads to middle and high schools in the core and eventually once their is economic diversity the charters can simply be re-integrated into the district.

In short, the biggest obstacle urban schools face is poverty. It is crippling and presents many obstacles for students, teachers, families, and communities when concentrated too highly in specific communities. We need economic diversity in school communities and districts.


You're absolutely right. And John Rex is a perfect example of what needs to be done to make this momentum stick. Fortunately it's easier to build a good elementary school in disadvantaged areas than middle or high schools, so we have 6 years once they're up to figure out upper schools :). I don't pretend to have a solution to this problem (that goes well beyond the schools themselves), but I do see John Rex, Edgemere Elementary's Community School model, and the fledgling efforts of Wheeler District to bring a new elementary school to the neighborhood as encouraging signs. I would go as far as saying that better urban schools are the number one issue facing cities attracting larger, sustainable urban growth.

My wife and I grew up in an economically and ethnically diverse area (not around OKC) and both see firsthand the value of having that experience and how it shaped us today. This is something we'll want for our children as well as long as we can ensure a decent education comes with it.



I detest the thought of moving to the suburbs because the schooling is not good enough in the city. That is just going to keep the cycle moving forward. If we want good schools in the city we are going to have to be the generation that actually does something about it.

I agree with this sentiment as well, and I am honestly the most likely to be an "urban school pioneer" out of my peer group (fwiw, I understand that term is completely ridiculous as there are already so many hard working families that send their kids to OKCPS every day). With that being said, the goal of starting this thread is to acknowledge the reality of what's going on in cities, OKC included, especially when that reality is not where we'd like it to be. And the current state of urban schools—and many other aspects of urban life—is not an appealing choice for the families who do have the ability to make that choice of where they want to live.

One example is to look at the school zones Deep Deuce is in (Edwards Elementary, Douglass Middle & High). Do you think Deep Deuce will ever be a fully developed neighborhood without that being addressed either through more alternatives like John Rex or fixing the public schools people will be sending their children to in the first place?
Ratings and Reviews for Edwards Elementary School in Oklahoma City OK | Zillow (http://www.zillow.com/oklahoma-city-ok/schools/edwards-elementary-school-84752/)

bluedogok
04-09-2015, 07:39 PM
What ages are those looking 4-5 miles from the CBD? The Millenials I know in Denver all live in urban Denver. Just like most of the Millenials I know in OKC. The majority are married, and over half have a child. Whether they stay in the urban neighborhoods is yet to be seen but most probably will. My age group is 28-34.
Most that have started families (and with multiple children) in your age group and I think the prices are a big factor. Most of the singles live a closer in and have roommates. Only us older ones live pretty far outside of the CBD, our commute is 22 miles one way.

bradh
04-09-2015, 08:33 PM
I detest the thought of moving to the suburbs because the schooling is not good enough in the city. That is just going to keep the cycle moving forward. If we want good schools in the city we are going to have to be the generation that actually does something about it.

then you better get started on that kid thing ;)

AP
04-10-2015, 06:43 AM
then you better get started on that kid thing ;)

Eventually.

Dubya61
04-10-2015, 11:48 AM
Eventually.

Funny joke: My friends are always telling me to have kids -- you gotta have kids. Who's gonna take care of you when you get old?
My smoking hot nurse that I can afford because I never had kids!

ctchandler
04-10-2015, 07:24 PM
Funny joke: My friends are always telling me to have kids -- you gotta have kids. Who's gonna take care of you when you get old?
My smoking hot nurse that I can afford because I never had kids!

Dubya,
I had a "smoking hot nurse" and she took good care of me. Unfortunately, she didn't outlive me. Yes, I have a couple of boys but they aren't going to take care of me, I am financially prepared (not rich by any means) to take care of myself.
C. T.

turnpup
04-11-2015, 11:15 AM
AP, this is for you:

Why haven't you had kids yet? - The Oatmeal (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/kids)

AP
04-11-2015, 07:59 PM
I got a good laugh out of that.

turnpup
04-11-2015, 10:12 PM
I got a good laugh out of that.

The Oatmeal is just the best stuff! I find myself reading through his comics about as much as I read OKCTalk.