Millennials may follow parents’ footsteps to suburbs

Urbanists for the past decade predicted the millennial generation would save American cities.

These urban evangelists argued the most populous generation in the United States distinctly prefers city living compared to older Americans of the baby boom generation and Generation X. But recent studies and data suggest that narrative depends on an over simplification of trends and tastes.

On Monday, The Upshot, The New York Times data-driven reporting blog, looked into whether claims that millennials favor city living held up. It came away with the definitive answer — maybe.

“Some research also shows that, while millennials seem to prefer cities in their youth, the draw of the suburbs is still strong.

The counterargument is some version of ‘this time is different.’ And millennials do seem to embrace cities more than their boomer parents did. They have shown up in greater concentrations, they bike more and drive less, and they have lingered in cities longer — possibly because they are still building a house down payment, delaying children longer or forgoing parenthood entirely.”

Whether young residents want to stay in urban environments will impact cities, such as Baltimore, that are hoping for a rebirth via an influx of young residents.

Factors influencing whether millennials make a city home for the long term, such as relatively cheap housing, show positives for Baltimore, according to The Upshot. But other factors, such as crime rate and good schools, work against millennials choosing to remain in the city.

Hopes for a rebound by the once-thriving industrial city are pegged to millennials making Baltimore home. As doubt about millennials’ supposed urban affinity creep in, city leaders wrestle with the fact the predicted gold mine of young residents may be a lump of coal.

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