The suburbs and the millennials

Castles in the Sand

For several years, I wrote about how the millennials were moving into the cities. They didn’t want anything to do with the suburbs and their parents’ lifestyle. Well, in the space of two weeks I discovered that everything old is new again.

In the 1950’s families, including mine, were moving from the city to the suburbs, buying up new homes in what were once potato fields and family farms. This migration from the cities to the suburbs happened because of the demand for housing after World War II when the veterans could finally settle down and start their families.

When the grandchildren of those families grew up, they said, “No way,” and vowed not to return to the mundane lifestyle of backyard barbeques and Little League. But don’t ever say never since the millennials, many of whom are in their late 30s, are coming back with families in tow, only this time instead of moving to the suburbs outside of major Northern cities, they’re coming south. This reversal has a lot to do with the mobility of jobs and the growth of the South, which is benefitting from the real estate slow down and taxes of the Northeast.

Recently, a very extensive piece in the Wall Street Journal studied the reversal from city to suburban life. It reported that the growth rates of the suburbs are far outpacing metropolitan areas and the South is winning the race. This supports what I wrote about last week regarding investors buying up first-time buyer properties, hurting millennials who suddenly want to buy houses and raise families.

Some of the hot Sun Belt areas with good job opportunities that are benefitting from this influx of young families are Frisco, Texas, Nolensville, Tennessee, Scottsdale, Georgia and our very own Lakewood Ranch.

As fate will have it, the same day I read the story about the city to suburban reversal there was a report in the Bradenton Herald about 3,000 new homes that will be built in Lakewood Ranch. After a little research, I discovered a couple of interesting things about Lakewood Ranch that we who live surrounded by water probably haven’t paid attention to.

First of all, 74 percent of Lakewood Ranch residents are either between the ages of 25 – 44 or over 65. I also read that Massachusetts General Hospital is opening a Brain Health Initiative that will be based in Lakewood Ranch, kind of an achievement for the Bradenton area. Also, the median age in Lakewood Ranch is 49.4 compared to Anna Maria Island’s 64.3. There are not too many millennials with families moving here. Finally, Lakewood Ranch is 31,000 acres and 29 square miles with a population of over 11,000.

The reason I’m telling you this is two-fold. First of all, to keep everyone aware of changes in real estate trends both locally and nationally and second to help us sun and sand worshippers appreciate what’s going on east of our shoreline. We’re all part of the same region, so what happens in Lakewood Ranch can have a serious impact on us – traffic, parking, success of restaurants and shops just to name a few. The millennials may prefer to live in Lakewood Ranch, but for them visiting Anna Maria Island is one of the reasons they came here.

Well, once again, millennials are picking up where baby boomers left off. Now it’s their turn to influence all aspects of life in the country. Everything old is new again.

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