The Exurbs are Growing Faster Than Everything Else

Stannate/CC BY 2.0

I grew up in an exurb of sorts. My folks wanted to live in a woodsier, more open and sparsely populated place that still had relatively easy access to town. You could get more bang for your buck, so we moved beyond the urban core of Sacramento, beyond its suburbs, beyond the suburbs' suburbs and into an exurb.

Now, it seems, more and more Americans are having the same idea—exurbs have become the fastest-growing part of the country by leaps and bounds. Here's Atlantic Cities:

The exurbs – those deconcentrated towns flung far beyond the urban core and just outside the suburban spread – have been growing faster than the rest of the country in recent years, even amid the housing bust and economic recession. According to a new analysis from the Urban Institute and researchers at the U.S. Census Bureau, these areas have seen growth rates that far outpace more densely populated areas as well as the nation as a whole.

Between 2000 and 2010, the total U.S. population grew about 10 percent, from 281 million to 309 million. Over that same time, the exurban population grew by more than 60 percent, from about 16 million to almost 26 million people, according to the analysis. As this chart shows, rates of growth are significantly higher in exurban areas than in more urban or densely populated areas.

Urban Institute/via

And here's where there's been a concentration of exurban growth:

Urban Institute/CC BY 2.0

That's still a pretty tiny slice of Americans living in exurbs, though it's not encouraging from a sustainability perspective—exurban living made for an idyllic childhood to be sure, but full of driving, driving, driving. And exurban homes are more apt to be gigantic McMansion monstrosities, thanks to more room to build and the wealth of the typical exurbanite-to-be.

The data doesn't explain whether the exurban growth trend is due perhaps to the ballooning wealth of already wealthy Americans throughout the 00s (income inequality continued grow during this period) or of more Americans seeking to escape the suburbs, or what. Incidentally, my exurb has over the last fifteen years been thoroughly transformed into a bona fide suburb—but my folks, to my knowledge, have no plans of leaving. In fact, when they do, my mother hopes to move into a small, walkable city.

Tags: Economics | Housing Industry

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