A new survey from Trulia confirms similar surveys in the past: Millennial housing preferences really aren’t much different from those of previous generations. Contrary to claims that most Millennials want to live in inner-city multifamily housing, nearly 90 percent of Millennials aspire to buy a single-family home. Moreover, the vast majority hoping to live in suburbs or small towns, while only 8 percent say they want to live in a central city.
The myth that Millennials want to live in cities is so pervasive that one news report claimed that the results of this survey contradict the “reality” that people are moving to the cities. In fact, as Wendell Cox has shown, central city population growth was slower in the 2000s than the 1990s, for both Millennials and the population in general. Meanwhile, suburbs and small towns continue to grow faster than center cities, even among 20-29 year olds.
While the populations of core neighborhoods in and near downtowns are growing when measured on a percentage basis, this is mainly because these populations were so low in the first place. The 1950s and 1960s saw most major cities evict residents from their downtowns as a part of the urban renewal process, which was the urban planning fad of that era. Now, the same urban renewal tools–tax-increment financing, eminent domain, and other gifts to developers–are used to bring people back to downtowns, which is today’s urban planning fad. While planners have proven that “if you subsidize it, they will come,” this isn’t evidence of a huge and permanent change in housing tastes.