For decades, the “white picket-fence house” was the epitome of the American Dream, and an instantly recognizable icon in pop culture. Between 1950 and 1970, 18 of our country’s top 25 cities suffered a net loss of residents despite steady population growth in America overall. In the same period, suburban population more than doubled.
Recently, there has been mounting evidence that urbanization has reemerged to reverse decades of uninterrupted suburbanization of American. The U.S. Census Bureau reports urban population growth now outpaces rest of the nation. It is more than a matter of organic population migration and urban planning; what is also interesting is that it is symptomatic of the shifting ideals of the next generation of Americans.
According to the latest ValueInsured Modern Homebuyer Survey, “owning a home in the city” is now the number-one American Dream housing arrangement, ahead of “owning in the suburb”, “owning in the country”, “renting in the city”, “renting in the suburb”, and “renting in the country”. 26% of Millennials and 25% of Gen Xers want most to own in the city as their personal American Dream, compared to 11% of Baby Boomers surveyed who said the same. In contrast, Baby Boomers expressed the highest desire to own a home in the suburbs, at 35%.
Millennials are not only increasingly city bound, they are also leaving the “MacMasion” housing ideal behind. When asked to rank the most desirable criteria in a home, Millennials in our Spring 2016 survey ranked “safety of the neighborhood” and “affordability of the home” ahead of “size of the home”. Only 12% of Millennials ranked size as their top criterion, and one-third ranked size as one of the least important criterion of their ideal home.