Out of Control Policy Blog

For Singles Suburbia Reigns

A new survey of home purchases by singles turned up something surprising for city watchers: 52 percent chose suburbs over urban or rural areas. The survey reveals a couple of other interesting tidbits as well:

  • "Fifty-five percent have less than a 30-minute commute to their office or work from home, and 40 percent live less than 30 minutes or even in the same neighborhood as their parents or extended family. In fact, an additional 12 percent live with at least one family member."

Essentially, the survey is confirming the "Law of Constant Travel Time" where people tend to locate close to their jobs and home. They will move to accomodate a commuting trip of about 30 minutes. Adrian Moore and I talk about this in our book Mobility First and how it fundamentally is changing travel patterns and should be incorporated into our regional transportatino planning.

What is motivating these suburban home purchases? Perhaps forward thinking women:

  • "More single women (27 percent) said that the number of bedrooms was the most desirable feature in a home, than did men (18 percent)."

Woman may be thinking about space needs as their family grows, or their network of friends neeeding a safe place to stay expands. 

Thus, suburbia is far from dead; it's alive and kicking as I discussed in a Planetizen.com blog post recently. Ironically, these results confirm something I said more than 10 years ago in my policy study The Sprawling of America: In Defense of the Dynamic City. Suburbs have become cities in and of themselves. They have the social networks, mobility, and increasingly even the densities to take on true urban functional characteristics (e.g., access to jobs and services) if not the built form of past cities (high density clusters of housing and businesses).

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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