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Welcome - my name is Kevin Klinkenberg, and this site "The Messy City" is my blog and company website. I started blogging on urban planning and design issues in 2007, and began working in the field in 1993. Please feel free to connect with me on any of the social media sites listed here. Thanks for reading.

The great mystery of young people staying in cities

Monday tip to journalists #2: cities don't suck anymore.

Joseph Berger writes in the New York Times about a not-suprising phenomenon: young people aren't moving to the suburbs in droves as much as they used to. While I'd like to look at all the data behind it, the story certainly matches up with other ongoing trends about the increasing desirability of urban living. Here's a couple of key quotes:

Christopher Niedt, academic director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said it was difficult to tell what was driving the decline. One reason, he theorized, is that 20- and 30-somethings are having a harder time finding the full-time jobs they need to afford their homes and real estate taxes. Nationwide, he said, the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds who own homes has declined sharply.


His (Edwin McCormack's) theory is that young people are marrying later and moving to the suburbs later. Others say that young people seem to be taking more time finding themselves, and are willing to flounder at home for a time, pushing the traditional arc of adult life into the future.

“Parents used to be 35ish, now they’re 45ish,” Mr. McCormack said. “What we’re seeing is not so much an exodus as a later arrival.”

I've written about this before, but I think it's far simpler. For one, people do actually like walkable, sociable places. Not all people, but more than we often give credit for. Couple that with the fact that cities are far, far better now than they were in the 70's, 80's and parts of the 90's and it's just that much more desirable to stay. Isn't it more plausible that people wanted to stay then, but didn't want to subject kids to the condition that most cities were in at the time? All of this is why I wrote last week about the need to work harder on supporting families in cities. As today's young people become tomorrow's 40-somethings, cities will need to adapt so they're not just play-spaces for the young and tourists.

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