Should Millennials Move to the Suburbs?

A female in a retro blue and white polkadot dress enjoys a ride on her vintage bike in the summer afternoon in the suburbs.

The suburbs are gaining in popularity among Millennials, who can find an affordable home in suburbs with a city-like feel.

Millennials. They’re hip, trendy and changing the way companies do business.

They composed 35 percent of all homebuyers in 2016, making them the largest group of homebuyers. They love walkable neighborhoods, are ditching the automobile life in record numbers and moving to the suburbs?

While many of their peers prefer living the big city life downtown, other Millennials are embracing the slower confines of the suburbs in record numbers. An Urban Land Institute report found a 10.8 growth in Houston’s suburban Millennial population from 2010 to 2015, a number that continues to rise today. Other metropolitan areas have seen a rise in Millennials moving to their suburban areas as well.

But what is fueling this exodus of hip, trendy homebuyers from the urban core desired by so many for so long to the suburbs, an area plenty of 20- and 30-somethings used to scoff at? The answer comes in three words: space, schools and price.

1. Space

Sometimes, you just need more space. Maybe some Millennials have dogs and want a yard for it to play in. Perhaps other Millennials are auto enthusiasts who need some space to work on cars. And, maybe Millennials want a place to park everything without encroaching on a neighbor’s living area.

The one key theme in those scenarios is space. With downtowns and city urban cores being fueled by building booms, space is at a premium and sometimes potential homebuyers just want to breathe.

2. Schools

For some metro areas this may not be the case, but for others, suburban schools offer top quality education. While this isn’t an issue with younger Millennials who are looking to buy a home, it is a top priority for those 30-something Millennials with children who are looking to set down roots.

3. A Similar Feel, For Half the Price

While that 1,200 sq. ft. house in the city looks nice, it may need some serious fixing up. It also could be double the price, putting a Millennial homebuyer out a substantial chunk of change.

“In a city like Austin, moving to the suburbs for Millennials provides them with the opportunity to become homeowners, whereas purchasing something more central would mean looking at more affordable homes that often need improvements or possibly having to look at smaller options like condos,” says Rebecca Levy, a Realtor with Carol Dochen Realtors in Austin, Texas, who has more than 10 years’ experience in the area. “With the median home price hovering around $300,00, it is difficult to find something affordable that fits the ideal criteria of a lot of people’s ‘dream home.’ Moving to the suburbs makes it more attainable.”

Not only that, but suburban neighborhoods are starting to adopt similar characteristics of their urban counterparts. With walkable neighborhoods in the heart of these suburbs, Millennials can experience the hustle and bustle of the big city without actually living in the big city.

While the suburbs can be enticing to Millennial homebuyers, some parts of city living may cause these 20- and 30-somethings to pause before making the big jump to suburbia.

So, You Don’t Want to Live in the Suburbs

The Job Factor

While some companies are making active relocations the suburbs in order to appease their workforce, others see the selling point in a downtown location. Amy Alexander of Sublime Homes says that many Millennials are relocating to her company’s area (St. John’s, Indiana) after starting a family in Chicago, saying that they still need easy access to the highway for work, without the city hassle.

You Love City Living

There is something magical about living in a big city. From the varied neighborhoods to the 24/7 action to easy access to bars, restaurants and nightlife, moving to the suburbs can make for a difficult life adjustment to someone who is used to a faster pace of living.

If you are constantly spending your spare time in the city, but live in the suburbs, that constant commute could take a toll not only on your car, but on your health as well.

Do What Works for You

“It’s all about what works for you as an individual,” says Levy. It’s important to consider not only your wants, but your lifestyle and how that affects your time in the urban core, your commute to and from work and how much time you’ll spend in downtown and the suburbs.

For some Millennial homebuyers, the suburban life may be just what they need. For others, it might be best to find an older home in the city. Regardless of what you choose, it is important to consider all of options before making the big move.
Adam Rosenfield is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. When not writing, he spends his time supporting Dallas sports teams.

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