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Americans Want to Escape Suburbs for City Life
   2014-06-20 12:01:26    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Mao

After some 60 years of migrating toward the suburbs, a larger share of Americans are now beginning to return back toward neighborhoods closer toward the central core of cities.

CRI's Li Dong explains.


 

Reporter: Spencer McCallie lives near a beautiful lake far from town. He enjoys the cozy life, but he is thinking about moving back to the city.

"Gosh, I would drive 45 minutes to get there and then 45 minutes back."

McCallie is part of a growing group of Americans choosing cityscapes over cul-de-sacs. Heather Gustafson from CMK Realty, a housing agency in Chicago, Illinois, is noticing the trend:

"We're certainly finding that buyers want to be in walking distance to what cities have to offer."

Both empty nesters and new families are driving the demand for urban living. And that means higher prices.

Historically, Americans bought homes worth about three times their income. But now, the typical new home tops 320-thousand dollars - six times the average household income in the United States.

According to Josh Boak, Associated Press Economics Writer, that's partly down to business decisions made by home builders.

"Developers have made a conscious choice to build fewer homes, but charge higher prices in order to maintain their profit margins."

That's led to developers breaking ground on terrace housing developments like Basecamp River North in Chicago, where units start at half a million dollars.
 
Gustafson says, despite the price tag, there are people who think the benefits of urban living outweigh the cost.

"Shorter commutes to work; greater accessibility to restaurants, shopping and to public transportation."

A new poll by the American Planning Association says roughly 40 percent of the country still lives in suburbs, but just seven percent of those surveyed hope to stay there.

Boak says that's because, for decades, communities were designed in ways many people no longer want to live.

"The problem is we've had sixty years of suburban based construction that is focused on the car, so we have a mismatch in terms of what people want and between what the market is providing."

McCallie says adjusting to city life has been easy. Backyard strolls are being replaced by short trips to see local performances.

"It was great fun. And then after that we left with six other people and then ate at one of our favourite restaurants and came home. Would not have done any of that had we lived the 28 miles out."

That's all part of a dramatic shift towards downtown living.

For CRI, I am Li Dong.

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