Looking at the data, it appears city life is losing its appeal. Americans are moving out to the suburbs in greater numbers than ever before. More than half of Americans moved last year, a twenty percent increase over 2020. Out-of-state moves are up and a few major cities such as Phoenix have grown significantly during the pandemic.
However, most Americans chose to stay closer to home. In many cases, they didn’t even leave the county where they’d been living before. They moved from the city out into the surrounding metro area. Why are these small communities growing so quickly? What’s drawing people away from cities?
Lower Housing Prices
Homes are typically cheaper in the suburbs than the city. And even though more Americans are renting than ever before, most still aspire to a single family home. While a few urban areas have kept prices relatively comparable, the majority have not. In fact, prices have risen so high that for most people, moving out is the only way they can afford to buy a home.
Larger Living Space
In densely populated cities, space is at a premium. A one or two-bedroom house can cost as much as a three or four-bedroom house in the suburbs. Suburban homes typically come with a backyard, garage, deck, or patio as well ‒ features unavailable to most city dwellers. It’s an increasingly popular choice for young families looking for more space and a lower cost of living.
Many cities have seen a sharp rise in homelessness, violent crime, and vandalism over the past few years. While local governments are moving quickly to address these issues, they’ve left many residents feeling unsafe. As a result, many who can prefer to leave and resettle someplace quieter.
Closer to Nature
Greenspace is more common in the suburbs than the city. No matter how much a city invests in its parks, the suburbs will always offer better access to nature. And after spending so much time trapped indoors during the pandemic, Americans are drawn towards communities with more opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Millennials and immigrants are reshaping suburban communities. Many features of urban life, particularly its diversity, are now available in the suburbs ‒ restaurants, cafes, clothing boutiques, craft breweries, cultural attractions, etc. ‒ reflecting the tastes and expectations of people who have grown up with them in the city.
Suburban migration has been ongoing for years, but spiked suddenly during the pandemic. Careers are traditionally tied to a particular location, but as companies expanded remote work opportunities, employees were suddenly free to live wherever they wanted. As a result, many people who had been considering a move decided to step up their plans.
Suburban counties saw a population surge in 2020 and 2021. Over 90 percent experienced positive growth, but it’s uncertain how long the trend will continue. Not every job can be performed remotely and the population increase has driven up housing prices in suburban communities.
But, for now, America’s suburbs are attracting new residents every day and given how long it’s been going on, it's unlikely they’ll be lured back any time soon.