Suburbs Are Cool Again, and Younger Generations Swoop In

July 3, 2019

Many U.S. suburbs are seeing their populations grow as millennials move out of the city and head to the ‘burbs.

Apex, N.C., a suburb of Raleigh, is the fastest-growing suburb in the U.S., according to®. It has earned the nickname “Millennial Mayberry” as young adults flock to the town.

Following several years of urban growth, the suburbs are proving the place to be. They now account for 14 of the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities with populations of more than 50,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

“The back-to-the-city trend has reversed,” William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told The Wall Street Journal.

Millennials, especially those between the ages of 23 to 38 who may have been priced out of popular big cities, are now heading to suburbs like Frisco, Texas; Nolensville, Tenn.; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.; and Scottsdale, Ga.,® notes.

Millennials have been selective about which suburbs they choose to call home. Frey notes that suburbs with good weather, plenty of job opportunities, and those largely in the Sunbelt are growing more than double the rate as their neighboring cities. These suburbs are often within commuting distance to cities or they offer outposts of corporate businesses.

In the early 2010s, growth rates in the cities with populations greater than 250,000 far outpaced suburban growth. Over the last five years, that has changed. The average annual growth in larger cities has dropped by 40%, according to census data. The suburban areas surrounding the 50 largest metro areas comprise 79% of the population of those areas, according to a 2016 study by the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.

A shortage of affordable housing in and around big cities may be prompting more people to head out to the suburbs again. Exurbs—those outlying counties of large metro areas—are seeing a spike in new-home construction that is luring new residents. Single-family construction permits increased 1.6% in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago. On the other hand, in the most populated metro areas, single-family construction is dropping, the National Association of Home Builders reports.

American Suburbs Swell Again as New Generation Escapes the City,” The Wall Street Journal (July 1, 2019) [Log-in required.]