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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Are the suburbs dying?

    Last week I read a story in the Washington Post that indicated that the suburbs may have trouble in the future to expand.  The trend is to move to where there are greater amenities and more public transportation options.  The days of 40 and 50 mile commutes from the "exurbs" may be coming to an end.  It seems that Millennials who were born since 1980 are turning away from the locations their Baby Boomer parents chose. My thoughts turned to the relevance for Columbia and Ellicott City.  I wouldn't put our community in the same category as many other unplanned suburban communities that lack the features that define us as "not your typical suburb."  But then again our population in Howard County does seem to have a hole in our age demographics when it comes to Millennials.  I have blogged about the decrease in this age cohort in the past.   It seems that this age cohort declined by 18% from 2000 to 2010.
    So where are these Millennials going?  Some suggest that they are drawn back to more urban settings.  This group has delayed starting families and have smaller families.  We can certainly see this population gravitating to Federal Hill and Canton in Baltimore.  A recent report in the Baltimore Sun pointed out how some of the office building in Baltimore are being converted to rental housing to meet the growing need for rental housing in downtown Baltimore.
    I am writing this as I am visiting my daughter and her family in San Francisco.  This is a Columbia born and raised 30 something who has decided over the past ten years to live in Atlanta, Austin and now San Francisco.

The picture above is her view from their apartment.  I have to say it sure beats the view out of our suburban window.


    Weekly shopping for their food at the Ferry Building Farmers Market is more fun than running to a Giant. They have 120 restaurants to chose from within one square mile of where they live.  We usually walk from her building to the restaurants we have gone to when we visit.


   The coffee shop around the corner pictured above, with great coffee, is a great people watching place. Not surprisingly our daughter has high school friends from Columbia who have chosen to live in Seattle and Chicago.  Friends of our other children live in Charlotte, Boston and Orlando.  Columbia's Millennials show up all over our Country.  The good suburban school system we have in Howard County may not be as much of a draw with the rapidly developing online educational options.   The neighborhood school may not be as much of a factor in determining where you live if your children receive their education online.
    Now our other children have not chosen the urban life as much as their sister but none live in Howard County because of the cost of housing here.  They would love to locate in the County but find housing in surrounding counties more affordable.  The housing planned for the "new downtown" seems to miss the mark on affordability for many Millennials who grew up here.



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