Here’s the usual media narrative: Millennials prefer cities to suburbs. They love renting lofts and disdain single-family homes; they ride the subway (or take an Uber) because they barely know how to drive. Where their parents wanted green lawns and cul-de-sacs, today’s young Americans want walkable neighborhoods and local bars with plenty of craft beers on draft.
The numbers tell a different story. Whether by choice or economic circumstance, young Americans are still more likely to leave the city for the suburbs than the other way around.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week, 529,000 Americans ages 25 to 29 moved from cities out to the suburbs in 2014; only 426,000 moved in the other direction. Among younger millennials, those in their early 20s, the trend was even starker: 721,000 moved out of the city, compared with 554,000 who moved in.1 Somewhat more people in both age groups currently live in the suburbs than in the city.
Indeed, for all the talk of the rebirth of American cities, the draw of the suburbs remains powerful. Across all ages, races, incomes and education groups, more Americans are still moving out of cities than in. (Urban populations are still growing, but because of births and immigration, not internal migration.)
Ashtabula County needs to both retain and attract people to live in the county. Our county has seen a slow and steady outward trickle for the past couple decades. And the population remaining is aging; not unlike other places, but it needs to grow. To grow, we need to build new housing that appeals to the existing population – young and old. We need to hold onto our Milliennial base and grow it in the future.