America’s suburbs have undergone a radical transformation over the last half century. No more “bedroom communities” of mostly white middle-class families living in neat rows of cookie-cutter houses. Today’s suburbs are dynamic hubs of population and job growth.
So, what qualities would stick out most if Ward and June Cleaver time-traveled from 1950s to present-day suburbia? Probably more than I can imagine, but here are a few observations they’d likely make:
Modern suburbs are booming.
Americans are flocking from cities to suburbs in droves. They are drawn by newer and more affordable housing, better-performing schools, safer communities and proximity to jobs. According to the Urban Land Institute, 79% of the population of the 50 largest metro areas lives in the suburbs.
Overall, more than one-half of Americans live in the suburbs today, compared to one-third in the 1950s. The suburbs are also where the majority of jobs are. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of suburban jobs increased by 9%, compared to 6% in cities.
Are you best suited to living in the suburbs, a city, a small town or the countryside? Take the free place personality type quiz and find out!
Modern suburbs are diverse.
No longer bastions of homogeny, today’s suburbs are racially, ethnically, economically and generationally diverse.
Today, most suburbanites live in communities that are either racially diverse (defined as 20% to 60% nonwhite) or predominantly nonwhite. The suburban population of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas is made up of 76% minorities and 61% immigrants.
Suburban poverty is on the rise. Since 2000, the suburban poor population has grown more than twice as fast as the urban poor population in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. In 2013, the suburbs accounted for 56% of the poor population in the nation’s largest metro areas.
Children make up most of the suburban population. But suburbs are also home to a diverse mix of other age groups. Forty percent of people 45 years and older and 75% of people ages 25-34 live in the suburbs of the 50 largest metro areas.
Modern suburbs are more urbanized.
Some suburbs look more city-like than suburban. They feature denser, walkable neighborhoods, retail hubs, convenient access to public transportation, and green space where shopping malls and parking lots once stood.
While these amenities provide residents with the best of both worlds (city and suburb), this suburban “urbanization” could end up pricing out the very people who moved there for its affordability.
Where will you be happiest living?
Take the free place personality type quiz and find out!