U.S. suburbs are seeing rapid population growth due to an influx of millennials who’re moving out of the city centers.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Apex, a suburb of Raleigh in North Carolina, is now the fastest-growing suburban area in the country, earning the nickname “Millennial Mayberry” due to the number of young adults moving to live there.
In fact, suburbs now account for 14 out of the top 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. with populations greater than 50,000, U.S. Census Bureau data shows.
“The back-to-the-city trend has reversed,” William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told the Journal.
Millennials, especially those between the ages of 23 to 38 who may have been priced out of popular big cities, are now heading to suburbs like Frisco, Texas; Nolensville, Tenn.; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.; and Scottsdale, Ga., the Journal noted.
But the suburban growth is not being seen everywhere in the nation, as millennials are rather selective about where they want to set up home. According to Frey, they generally prefer suburbs with good weather and lots of job opportunities. As a result, it’s mostly those suburbs in the Sunbelt that are growing fastest, with many displaying double the growth rate of cities elsewhere. These suburbs also often tend to be within easy commuting distance of lager cities, or are home to outposts of large corporate businesses.
The trend marks a reversal of what we saw earlier in the decade, when inner city growth rates exceeded that of suburban growth. But things have changed in the last five years. The average annual growth in larger cities has dropped by 40%, according to census data. The suburban areas surrounding the 50 largest metro areas comprise 79% of the population of those areas, according to a 2016 study by the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.
A shortage of affordable housing in and around big cities may be prompting more people to head out to the suburbs again. Exurbs—those outlying counties of large metro areas—are seeing a spike in new-home construction that is luring new residents. Single-family construction permits increased 1.6% in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago. On the other hand, in the most populated metro areas, single-family construction is dropping, the National Association of Home Builders reports.