The Era Of City-Dwelling Millennials Is Coming To An End

The age of the city-dwelling millennials may be coming to an end.

If you look at this chart from a recent blog post by Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko, there’s not a ton of movement between where people live now and where they would like to live in the future. But what movement there is shows that those who do want to move want to get to a more rural place five years from now.

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Trulia’s survey showed that urbanites are more likely than people living in more outlying areas to want to change their surroundings. Kolko notes, “two-thirds (67%) of urbanites wanted to live in an urban area in five years, compared with 80% of suburbanites and 83% of rural residents who wanted to live in areas like where they were.”

The idea that millennials are super into the city seems to be more of a function of age than an innate generational quality. Those at the high end of the millennial generation are now in their thirties, and the plurality are in their mid-20s. As a generation, they are well-educated. They entered the workforce just before or just after the financial crisis. The cities are where the jobs and the dating opportunities were, so it’s no surprise that they flocked to them.

In his post, Kolko quantified the tendency of younger adults to be more city focused. He pointed out that the likelihood of living in urban neighborhoods rather than the suburbs peaks in the mid to late 20s and steadily drops off as 30-somethings start to form families and move out of the city:

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Here’s how the population of the US breaks down by age. There’s a big bulge of younger millennials in their early to mid twenties, the prime city-dwelling years:

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But a decade from now, the landscape will look very different. Millennials will pair up and have kids and want space. Cities, particularly the mega-cities like New York and Chicago, aren’t likely to become more affordable.

Demographics is destiny. That big bulge of younger millennials visible in the population pyramid is going to be hitting the prime age range for marriage and having kids in the next few years, and it’s likely that many of those new families will move out to the burbs (or further!).

The Census Bureau projects that a huge number of younger millennials will be ageing into their late twenties and early thirties during the next decade. Meanwhile, since there are fewer teenagers today than younger twenty-somethings, the number of city-loving young adults is projected to drop:

Older and younger adults

All those city-dwelling millennials are about to hit the time in their lives when they’re going to be ready to start settling down, and this could mean a big population shift from the city to the suburbs.

That means we’re currently at peak urban millennial. It’s all downhill from here, kids.