|They're all headed to the suburbs, as soon as they finish this game of Candy Crush.|
But we should stop worrying. Some young families are going to leave the city, and not only is it not going to be as bad for cities as people think, it's probably going to be great for America. Cities are already the most productive places on the planet and the primary exporters of intellectual goods; why not embrace the export of urbanism, too?
One reason I'm not too concerned about the exodus of Millennials has already been covered pretty thoroughly, and it's also generational: baby boomers are hitting retirement age, and without any kids at home and with less physical mobility they're seeing the appeal of living in smaller homes, closer to their daily needs. Even as many Millennials leave cities, the largest generation in history is getting older and the challenges of keeping up a 3,000 square foot home and driving everywhere will weigh ever-heavier.
|Living the dream!|
Last, sending some newly-minted urbanites back into the suburbs from whence they came could be just what the suburbs need. After all, we tell our young adults to go backpacking through Europe or South America after graduation—"See the world!"—as a means of gaining perspective outside their relatively narrow experience. Why not the same with cities? There's much more to life than a two-car garage and a 30-mile commute, after all. The suburbs have been declining in wealth and appeal over at least the past decade, while cities have boomed; Millennials might be able to take some lessons home from their excursions into the big city, and to help reverse that decline. As readers probably know, this transition is already underway in suburbs, malls, and town centers across the nation.
The point here is that just because some Millennials will decide it's in their interest to find a bigger home with a yard, that doesn't mean they've abandoned the values that attracted them to the city in the first place. And the habit of walking, biking, and using transit to get around can very quickly become an expectation. Millennials may have saved cities, and they might just save the suburbs too.