Greater City Providence

People Not Moving…

The New York Times has a thought provoking article about how the image to the left is becoming a rare site in the US, as the numbers of people moving fall to absolute numbers not seen since WWII (when the country had 100 million fewer people).

Sadly, it seems of the people who are moving, about 2 million have moved away from cities and towards the suburbs, a reversal of recent trends of the last two decades. It’s also one that is about 180 degrees away from that which many believe the nation needs to succeed (more density, more shared services, more mass transit, etc).

It’s an interesting read. Click here for the full article.

Bret Ancowitz


  • That’s because it’s much less expensive to get a house in the country than a condo in the city.

  • I find it interesting that people are actually moving to the suburbs. I’ve been thinking, myself, that if I were to move again, I’d consider moving to a rural area where I can grow more of my own food and maybe run a business out of my home.

  • To me, it makes a certain amount of sense, given that the only people who can really afford to move right now are baby boomers who have already made their wad of cash and retired. None of them have ever really liked the city, or made it a point to do the right thing in the face of adversity, so they’re going where the cheaper housing is.

  • I wonder what the migration patterns for the last 6 months are. I imagine those numbers are not available yet.

  • Corey, you are pretty much wrong. Baby Boomers have by and large had their life savings decimated in the last 12 months. It is easy to find bogeymen to blame for everything, but come on, let’s use some actual critical thinking skills instead of just playing the blame game. Hell I could say that the problem is that the young kids nowadays have been used to ahving everything handed to them instead of working and now they are lazy idiots with no real skills and no real purpose…and that would be as useful as saying the baby boomers are responsible for all the evil of the world.

    Part of the real answer here is that moving is down because people cannot afford to leave their homes due to devaluation. As far as the trending away from cities, I think it is more plausible the people associate density with risk (e.g. crime, vandalism, vagrancy, etc.) rather than community. Also, the specific numbers by city would be interesting to see, I suspect sun belt boom cities are the biggest culprits here, but I could be completely wrong.

  • I bet some of these people moving away from cities are younger persons moving back in with their parents after their job was downsized. It sounds glib, but I actually wouldn’t be surprised at all.

  • Here’s some critical thinking for you:

    You clearly took what I said way too personally, because otherwise you wouldn’t have addressed me personally in your “hypothetical” assertion that young people are all idiots. We’re the ones that have to spend the rest of our lives cleaning the toilet that is this planet. Have some respect for the fact that we’re a little annoyed about that, or at least give us the benefit of the doubt in not being sure that the world as we know it will be here in 50 years. Besides, if the problem stems from the fact that we’ve had everything handed to us, then it’s the previous generation’s own fault for handing us everything.

    On that note, I think J makes a very good point. I think the sun belt issue is also key, in that all of those cities’ growth was a result of the frivolous deregulation of the past 8 years. People ended up moving out of cities simply because that’s where the majority of housing was built during the Bush administration. There’s also the fact that urban housing construction is still much more developer driven than suburban housing construction. Urban housing therefore tends to rely more heavily on financing, and tax abatement, neither of which are available in the least right now. There is a myriad of reasons, but they all essentially add up to less money available for the goods and services that urban life requires.

  • FWIW, this week’s Iconoculture (consumer trends) article on Boomers is “Housing Slump Hits Boomers Hard” and it supports Brick’s basic assertion that the 50+ club are stuck where they are. But, like everything, many factors are at play. Kids moving in with parents. Parents moving in with kids. One trend I’ve heard bandied about is this concept of generational reintegration – that more and more families will return to multi-generational households and that that will become more normal.

    Also, please note that the article refers to “major cities” losing population. A lot of the action in the media industry is in the 2nd and 3rd tier cities, and the so-called B and C counties. Real estate, too…?

    Last point: anything based on the census becomes increasingly inaccurate as density increases (urban core). The deviation also grows as you get further and further down the census cycle. Right now, we’re getting projections based on projections with some surveys thrown in for good measure. Next year’s census – if the community approach works – may yield some startling numbers.

    Wonk rant over.

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