The latest history to repeat itself is a generational one, a geographical shift factoring in age, desires and economics: The Wall Street Journal had an article last week highlighting a demographic shift as more millennials leave cities and move into the suburbs.
Where has our country seen this before? After World War II, when returning veterans sparked the market for new homes, and new equipment and technology pushed them off the farms. Talk about mass migration.
Interesting bit of data: a 2016 study by the Urban Land Institute's Terwilliger Center for Housing found the suburban areas surrounding the 50 largest metropolitan areas make up 79 percent of the population of those areas.
The headlines these last few years tell the story of skyrocketing rents in places like Portland, Denver, Austin and San Francisco. But enough people of a certain age might be wondering why they continue to do battle against traffic and sky-high taxes. You can almost hear the realization strike some people: "Wait a second. I can have a yard, more room, and the cost of a mortgage is often lower than rent?"
And this latest migration isn't just affecting big cities like New York and Chicago. Even right here, where's the population growth expanding in central Arkansas? It's Bryant, Maumelle, Benton and Conway.
You can even see it, to a smaller extent, in a city the size of Bentonville (around 50,000), where neighboring Centerton is growing at an accelerated pace as people look for more affordable home prices.
Of course, things can change at any time. All these millennials heading into suburbs create increased demand for housing and higher prices. And if building doesn't keep up, prices will keep shooting up and pricing people out. At that point, they may decide to head back into the cities where decreased housing demand has lowered rents.
The economy plays a big role, as always. It's hard to make a house payment if your suburban job disappears. If more jobs move to the cities, that'll bring the workers along with it. It's a back-and-forth as steady as the tide. And just as predictable.
Editorial on 07/08/2019