In the early part of the 2010s, younger workers fled the bland suburbs to urban centers where jobs were in abundance. This left many suburban and ex-urban towns on the brink of collapse. However, as cities have become overpriced, many of those now older workers are looking for jobs and opportunities in those same towns they left just a few years ago. It means far longer commutes for many of them but it also presents an opportunity for these towns to revitalize and one of the ways they are doing so is with smaller, more affordable housing.
School Bus Apartments
In the housing market, less is more these days. Many people can’t afford the massive houses that have dominated most American suburbs since the late 1970s. Instead, suburbs and smaller cities are embracing micro-apartments and tiny homes. Micro-apartments aren’t just an American phenomenon either. The property type is popping up the world over as space becomes squeezed and more people need to fit into less space. Europe and Asia are also seeing the rise of the micro-apartment as a prime living choice for workers seeking to get housing for less money. For budget-conscious Americans, tiny homes are also on the rise offering a chance to own or rent a small home at an affordable price. Due to the rising cost of land, these homes are increasingly becoming a popular and even upscale option for those looking to buy a home for something that they can actually afford.
In the 1950s, suburbs were sold on the fact that they weren’t cities. They were far from business and industrial centers. There were wide-open spaces, quiet streets, and a constant neighborhood character. The modern suburb is selling itself as the opposite. Instead, suburbs are talking up their city-like qualities but putting apartments near transit and services and talking up their potential as urban spaces but at affordable prices. The small apartments and houses also allow for in-filling. The empty space that Boomers and Xers enjoyed is getting filled in with apartments and tiny homes because that land is too valuable not to lose.
The Future is Density
Density has its advantages and disadvantages. There are more people in less space and that means dealing with the noise and lifestyles of the people that live in those spaces. However, density has some tremendous upsides. Commutes can be shorter, transit is cheaper to build, companies thrive from having an available workforce nearby, and services are far more available to more people. There are also tremendous efficiencies in the use of energy which helps with climate change and maintaining the natural world. Sprawl has impacted habitats and the natural world throughout the United States and making better use of land is an essential part of both serving humans better and serving the natural world better too.
Suburbs are taking this opportunity to revitalize downtowns, reach out to create transit connections and allowing people to live near where they work and live. the future is dense and micro-apartments and neighborhoods of tiny homes are just a part of the new urbanism that has reached out of major cities and right into the suburbs. The best part is that this new trend is increasingly profitable for developers. Suburban living could soon have a much more urban meaning.