New Homes

Aging millennials fleeing urban areas

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

A recent paper found that rents in major U.S. cities are declining in part because millennials are moving to the suburbs as they start to have families.

Dowell Meyers, a professor of demography and urban planning at the University of Southern California, recently published an interesting paper concerning millennials and their impact on housing preferences.

This age group has crested as it relates to urban or downtown living. It seems as though the young professionals moving into cities have now turned into an outflow of mid-30s couples moving out to the suburbs. This trend had stalled during the housing crisis but has now resumed.

Apartment and condo numbers in the cities are softening. Rents in cities such as San Francisco, Washington, Denver, Miami and New York are actually declining from last year.

It appears as though this generation and their young families are abandoning the urban core in favour of bigger homes and better school districts in the suburbs, in the same fashion as previous generations. This, of course, will have a significant impact on city budgets if there is no demand for urban improvement due to a lack of population.

Smaller urban apartments are most popular with young adults. As they get older and form families, they tend to move out to the suburban neighbourhoods. Of course, apartment living peaked and continued for a longer period of time than usual because of the U.S. housing crisis in 2009. Supply was tight and new construction had halted at the time.

Given that generation Z is smaller than the millennial generation, demand for downtown living may be even less.

Interesting news on the Canadian front: Statistics Canada projects the makeup of our country is continuing to change at a rapid pace.

They are projecting that by 2036, 30 per cent of Canada’s population will consist of immigrants, while another 20 per cent will be children of immigrants. That appears to be a staggering statistic until one reflects on it further.

We each tend to have our own perception of the immigrant population. However, my father was an immigrant. He came to Canada by boat in 1928 at age 3 leaving Belfast with his mother. His father (my grandfather) came to Canada a year earlier to find a job, establish a residence in Sarnia, Ont., and then send for his wife and child. The Canadian dream.

That makes me the child of an immigrant and a first generation Canadian. Not so different than what StatsCan is projecting for the future of this country. It’s what makes Canada great.

Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.


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