The Next Migration

Trending Now: Younger generations are moving back to the inner city to immerse themselves in a walkable, bikable lifestyle.

Newsflash: Big cities are using T-SPLOST and other revenue streams to build trails, cycle tracks, and sidewalks to accommodate the influx of new citizens who prefer walking and biking to driving.

The competition between major cities to attract young professionals and the employers who wish to employ them is increasingly focused on creating live, work, shop, and play communities with safe, attractive pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

Downtown Newnan may become boom town Newnan soon.

There’s even competition within metropolitan areas as sprawling, edge cities try to keep their employers and young citizens from returning to the ‘mother city’ to live and work. Younger generations are not fleeing density and diversity like their parents and grandparents did. Suburbia could become a ‘gray donut’ around some cities with older generations rattling around in big houses while the kids enjoy their urban lifestyles back in the city.

I think there is a new trend right around the corner; the rebirth of smaller cities that transform into mini-versions of the neighborhoods within major cities that are trending today. The Newnan’s, Carrollton’s, and LaGrange’s of the world will be in the next wave of hot places to live. Consider this:

• Even though many of the folks flocking to the city are not car-centric, densification will result in more congestion. There will be more and more pressure on the limited amount of public right-of-way in the heart of major cities that will ultimately detract from living at ground zero.

• Employers can build and expand facilities around a small town for a fraction of the cost of providing a workplace in a big town.

• The cost of living is considerably less in a smaller town.

• As millennials age and have kids they will seek locales with better schools, less crime and lower taxes. If smaller cities create an environment similar to, Virginia- Highland, Krog Street, or downtown Decatur, I predict the young people will stay/return and the employers will follow. Smaller towns need to prepare for the pending trend and create utopias where everyone wants to be but everyone isn’t there!
I predict the quality of life that has lured millennials to return to the heart of big cities will peak and deteriorate during the coming years. At the same time, some smaller towns will morph into pedestrian-friendly villages with smaller, slower streets, shops and eateries in landscaped plazas, and yes trails connecting all of this to where people work and live. Just as the trend in the sixties and seventies was to move away from town to suburbia, and the trend in the 2010’s is the rush back in, I predict a migration away from the mother cities; not back to the burbs, but to small towns who get it right. Come to think of it, these small towns might be great places for retirees to live too!