Living the San Francisco Dream


The End of the Suburbs?

Is the writing on the wall for American suburbs?

Living where I do now, in the heart of San Francisco, I've sensed the trend. I'm part of it. I left the suburbs after 40 happy years living there. I see my clients, young and old, wanting a more urban life-style. I've seen how differently my 20-year old granddaughter views living arrangements; she isn't an anomaly not being interested in getting a driver's license the moment she turned 16. There are fundamental, real shifts going on.

Book, The END of the SuburbsHere's a heads-up tip for a thought-provoking read: The END of the Suburbs, Where the American Dream is Moving, by Leigh Gallagher

A few highlights from the Introduction:

  • "After fifty years of outward migration, we're starting to move in the other direction."
  • "Since 2000, building activity has picked up in cities and showed down in suburbs."
  • "As poverty has invaded the suburbs, wealth has rushed back into cities.If you've visited New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or just about any other American city lately, you don't need more proof that they are booming."
  • "....studies show that when millennials [those born between 1977 and 1995] do leave their parents' homes, they don't want anything to do with the kinds of suburbs they grew up in."

With chapters titled, "The Great Urban Exodus," The Urban Burbs," "The End of the Nuclear Family," and "Where the Wealth is Moving" among others, it's an easy book to pick up and delve into.

The END of the Suburbs by Leigh Gallagher will be fascinating read, and I expect it will give me insights which I can put to use to better understand the needs and wants of my clients.

--- Come for a visit; Stay for a lifetime!

Lottie Kendall, Realtor®


CA DRE#10215160; 650-465-4547

Peninsula Living Business Page



Comment balloon 118 commentsLottie Kendall • September 16 2013 05:59AM


Not that I live in a big city, but here it's the opposite.  People are still moving to the outskirts of town where they can get a nice yard, park their car easily, and have some room to breathe.

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) about 7 years ago

I live near a big city, but behind a mountain next to a wild life corridor which is similar to country living. Its quiet, lots of animals, birds sing during the day and owls at night and if I didn't have this...The city is a good place to make a buck in but not to relax in

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 7 years ago

I can absolutely see the draw of the urban setting, but for raising kids you can't beat the suburbs!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or about 7 years ago
Posted by Brian Sharkey, SharkeyRE - #SouthFloridaBroker (SharkeyRE LLC) about 7 years ago

Lottie, I have a number of new clients who are wanting to move into our downtown area. They like the night life there and the easy convenience to everything.  It might just be a trend in smalltown USA as well. 8-)

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 7 years ago

Hi Marc, we've seen the exodus from San Francisco to the suburbs once kids reach about 5 years of age, but for every family that leaves (temporarily) more empty nesters and young adults move in. That's the pattern that my life hast taken.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

Hi Richie - perhaps it depends on the City, but here in San Francisco we have miles of trails and numeous parks to enjoy. Add the Presidio, Crissy Field, Fort Mason -- then the short drive (or hike!) over the Golden Gate bridge and one is in the Marin Headlands. Did you know we have coyotes in Golden Gate Park??

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

I'm actually seeing the opposite here. I've been working with a lot of young people that are friends of my kids.  They are moving back to the place they grew up and raising their kids here.  I am seeing a lot of boomers that are selling the big house, moving closer to work (downtown) and buying a second home in the country or near the beach.

Posted by Jeanne Gregory, The most important home I sell is YOURS! (RE/MAX Southwest) about 7 years ago

Hi Tom, I chose to raise my kids in the suburbs; but even in the suburbs the trend seems to be geared to more walkable locations

Brian - let us know if you read the book

Mike, I've seen the same in the Silicon Valley and in San Mateo County

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

Fascinating trends, Jeanne.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago


Some great questions come out of this - which trend applies to you and your business? There are cases to be made for each, and I see that clients go from one or the other based on life concerns and lifestyle choices.

Suburbs usually represent a slower lifestyle and more kid activity, and inner cities are usually more about adult activity and loads of hustle and bustle.

Each represents an opportunity for business design, and again that would be personal preference.

Posted by Eric Nelson, III, Eric O. Nelson, III (Silicon Valley Capital Funding) about 7 years ago

Lottie - this is just fascinating. I have seen it, although on a much smaller scale, here in southern New Mexico. More and more people want to live near or in the city center. It's getting harder and harder for sellers in rural areas because of this fact. 

Posted by Jeff Stevens, Jeff Stevens, Associate Broker (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Mexico Properties) about 7 years ago

I read an article about this yesterday - and I think it could happen in certain places.  I think the type of suburbs where I live (close to downtown, great transportation, restaurants, shopping, etc.) will survive.  The outlying places that were built like little entities of their own with no commerical areas, will definitely have problems.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Lottie, with the new construction we have going on here right now, I don't see the end of the suburbs at all.

I have a 38 year old stepson who has lived in Chicago since he graduated college. He has 4 children 6 and under. Last year, he picked up and moved to the suburbs. The suburbs of Denver, CO but the suburbs. He loves it there and wishes he had moved years ago. He grew tired of the city life and not having a yard for his kids to kick the soccer ball or play catch.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) about 7 years ago

Traffic is a major point that attracts people closer to the city. .as time passes. .is not getting better

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) about 7 years ago

Lottie, That is certainly true of my son, born in 1980, he loves San Francisco ... lives and works there. He wants nothing to do with the suburbs where he grow up in Los Gatos and San Jose. He pays the price to live in San Fran.  He would not be happy living anywhere else. Congrats on the Feature Post! 

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist, Probate Real Estate (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) about 7 years ago

Eric, I see migration in both directions, too. Some of the point the author makes about millenials is fascinating

Jeffrey and Margaret, I think you've nailed it; even in smaller areas and suburbs, being closer to town and less reliant on cars has taken on a new importance

Fernando - traffic definitely plays a part in the tale

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

I see it in my family, too, Kathleen -- ME!

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

I think there are less people having children, or at least waiting longer to have children, making the desire to live in the city a doable one.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) about 7 years ago

Many retirees face the question of where to live for the best quality of retirement life and many are opting for urban areas. This is a very good subject for continued conversation.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) about 7 years ago

I love living in the burbs and wouldn't change it for city life. Perhaps it depends on the city and what it has to offer, but the burbs are a great place to raise a family. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) about 7 years ago

Suzanne, I expect that point will be brought out in the book

Roy, I have had friends retire and move to bucolic, rural areas -- only to move back again (if they could afford it) once the reality of increased medical and other life-care needs arose.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

Most people I know, myself included, chose to raise our families in the 'burbs. I don't see that changing any time soon, but the 'burbs themselves are changing from what they were 20, 30,40 years ago.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

Your book recommendation,  The END of the Suburbs, Where the American Dream is Moving, by Leigh Gallagher, sounds like a good one!  I'm a diehard believer and practitioner in urban living.  Why be chained to a vehicle all day when walking is so much healthier less stressful than fighting traffic?

Posted by Andrew Payne Realtor® Richmond VA Homes For Sale~804-938-5257~, Richmond, VA, Real Estate, SRES®, NAR Green (Piedmont Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Lottie, I agree that the move is back to the urban areas. I see all ages making the change especially retirees.

Posted by Helen and Larry Prier- Re-Max Gateway - Residential Real Estate, Anacortes & surrounding Skagit & Island Counties (RE-MAX Gateway- Residential Real Estate Sales) about 7 years ago
It's really fascinating to watch how these trends change. I guess I'm also part of the "back to urban" migration since one of my criteria for my next house is to be closer to town where there are "things" accessible by walking. Though I do still see buyers who opt for rural living, so expect to see varied choices being made for near future. One of my favorite things about the new attraction of urban is that many older homes are being beautifully renovated - combining classic charm with modern conveniences.
Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA about 7 years ago

Lottie, we're seeing a lot of that, especially as the Baby Boomers leave the suburban homes where they raised children for a more fun atmosphere in town.  They are getting to be a big part of the market buying in the city.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Lottie, like Fernando said, the traffic isn't making an already tense situation any better. Most people work in the city so moving to the city would make the most sense. However, for all the people moving to the cities, I'm sure there are many moving back to the suburbs or opting for the suburbs. For the younger generation though, I've read plenty of articles that deal with them driving less, getting less driver's licenses and opting for a more "free" lifestyle. Thanks for the information!

Posted by Phil Stevenson, CRMP, "Mortgage Nerd" in Miami, Florida and Texas (PS Mortgage Lending 305-791-4874 or 888-845-6630) about 7 years ago

Interesting blog.  The way cities are being revitalized with dining and live/work loft options, I can see this being a forward thinking trend.  

Posted by Troy Huerta, Changing the way Home Buyers BUY! (SRE Technologies) about 7 years ago

Yes, this is a trend with many young people who want the fun activiities of the city.  Many empty nesters want to downsize and find the city attractive with smaller yards, or no yard and the ease to which they can access activities. 

Posted by Susan Jackson (America's Network Realty Group, Inc) about 7 years ago

Lottie-Very interesting read. Congrats on the feature.

Posted by Sharon Lee, Retired and loving life (Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance) about 7 years ago

Lottie I see it as well here in Phoenix/Scottsdale.  Many of our folks thinking of retiring are not heading out to the burbs where there are a lot of active adult communities like they used too - they're heading downtown in both Phoenix and Scottsdale to be part of the action.  Why not - lots of stuff going on downtown all year long.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS AZ Top Banana!, 602-380-4886 (HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000) about 7 years ago

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I can't wait to find some time and continue reading The End of the Suburbs.

Let me know if any of you read the book, too -- I think it would be a great one to discuss.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

Lottie:  I read an article just the other day that reported it's not just the Millennials that are abandoning the "burbs".  Mom and Dad are too.  They're moving to college towns ... back into the cities in search of entertainment, less travel, educational pursuits, and much more.  Agents and Lenders need to be aware of this .. and your post certainly helps educate ...


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) about 7 years ago

I heard the same story in the 80's.  Cities are revitalizing, updating, etc.  Every 10 years, one city or the next has a grand redevelopment project.  This is normal.

The masses are not moving "back" to the cities.  The masses are growing as they have been for last 100 years - and in the USA we will only tolerate a certain degree of population density.  Suburbs will keep growing because there is space to accomodate transplants and new families born in core cities.  People will move to the suburbs for the same reason as always - lower population density, noise, traffic, and cheaper homes.

People who make a lifestyle choice to live in a core city will do it for the same reason as always - jobs, higher pay, entertainment, & community.

I'm OK with helping people go either direction!

Posted by Richard Arnold, Realtor - Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix (Keller Williams Realty East Valley) about 7 years ago

I live in such a rural area that I do not understand a lot about suburbs.  But I think that your assessment sounds reasonable..

Posted by Ginger Harper, Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County! (Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage) about 7 years ago

Hi Lottie. This is really interesting and I think you are right. I moved from the suburbs to a really small town in the country, but the bottom line is the same: we are looking for different things now.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) about 7 years ago

For my area, San Diego, the 2 biggest factors in housing prices are location, who doesn't want to live at the beach, and schools. School options in urban areas unfortunately are either private schools or poor schools. Urban works when you are young but schools work when you have kids.

Posted by Catherine Valentine, Your Neighborhood Specialist (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 7 years ago

Lottie - yes, this has been the trend for a while now and for many it proves to be a good move. On the flip side, some folks who move into a true urban environment can't get used to the over-stimulation of activity and noise and opt to move back to the 'burbs.  Like anything in real estate, it is a personal preference issue.

Posted by Greg Mona, Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU! (eXp Realty) about 7 years ago

Until fuel or transportation costs become unbearable, like perhaps $10/gallon gas, suburbs will do just fine.  It's still the only viable option to get enough space to breathe at a modest middle class income.  

Posted by Tina Lam, Residential REALTOR, Broker - (408) 320-5261 (Archers Homes) about 7 years ago

This is an interesting trend and really, also a trend away from home ownership.  I could be that the housing crisis played a big part.  No longer was the thing your parents tried so hard to get and paid and paid for worth as much as it was.  Big Lesson! 

Posted by Elise Harron, Rural Vacant Land and Development Specialist (Dirt Road Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Lottie, while suburban living may be going downward in some parts of the country, the suburban cities along the San Francisco Peninsula are thriving.  As you know, people are literally standing in line to buy homes in the suburbs around here, despite the costs of homes, gas and everything else associated with living here.  I'm just not a big city girl, so I guess it's all in how you perceive it, right?

Posted by Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale, - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula (Wende Schoof) about 7 years ago

It has a lot do with the cost of construction.  Building is much more expensive now than it has been in the past and developers need to have density in order to make sense of a development.  Unlike the suburbs, where a developer is not getting enough density to offset the construction costs.

Posted by Jay & Michelle Lieberman, Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos (Keller Williams World Class) about 7 years ago

Hi Lottie,

Wonderful post. I have been watching and experiencing this demographic shift for the past 10 years. When I started selling real estate on the Upper West Side of Manhattan 13 years ago my competition for buyers looking for large apartments was Greenwich CT.

Today my competition is Brownstone Brooklyn. Many of my clients have sold their large Long Island, NJ and Westchester homes for condos and coops in Manhattan. Empty nesters moving to the city to retire. I have also found the first apartments for their children and grand children. There has been a re-urbanization of America.

Cities with good transit systems and infrastructure have benefitted. 2 hour commutes are no longer sustainable. Millenials prefer urban living. They prefer cities that are culturally diverse like SF and NY. Diversity = Growth.

Diversity and culture attracts brain power. Divirsified businesses and high tech employers are also attracted to cities where the brain power choices to live and work.

Millenials want to bring their children up in the city too. Life is livable without a car. I am seeing generational moves so they all can be near each other while enjoying different lifestyles.

Suburban towns of cities with good mass transit systems like NYC and SF will also prosper. Unfortunately suburbs where one has to commute 2 hours by car to work are no longer sustainable.

Everything goes in cycles.


Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) about 7 years ago

Tina, #41, stated this issue completely and I agree with her perception.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) about 7 years ago

Lottie, interesting slant on this. 

Posted by Marlis Landreth, Retired Tucson Realtor (Retired) about 7 years ago

Here in San Antonio, TX. there is land. Lots of land. The suburbs are booming. At the same time we see a desire to deal with less traffic. Those that can afford downtown or the neighborhoods closer in or more centrally located are doing it. But then there's the issue of schools. Families will choose the homes in the neighborhoods with the better schools/school districts as much as their budget will allow. In San Antonio that's mostly the suburbs.

Posted by Mark Caley about 7 years ago

HI Lottie, we think it is a trend for some age groups while others still want the burbs.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) about 7 years ago

I agree that its a personal preference issue.  In Nashville where I am, urban homes are significantly higher priced than the suburbs and historic areas near any downtown are going ridiculously up in value.  Are we making so much money as a whole that we can all choose urban living?  No. But then again, the poorer of us are living in the 'burbs and some suburbs are run down and infiltrated with crime (but other suburban areas are not).  

Posted by Alyse "Aly" Sands (Village Real Estate Services) about 7 years ago

Seems these things are cyclical throughout history... urbanization, suburbanization, urbanization... perhaps we are in fact in transition between them again...

Posted by Paul Silver, Rhode Island full service real estate firm about 7 years ago

I grew up in a mid-sized city (now app. 205,000+) and still have family there. I go back a few times a year and much of the downtown area is now turning into residential areas. Nice to see a comeback as it had been deserted and falling apart for many years.

Posted by Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Broker/Owner, email: / cell: 334-494-7846 (Travis Realty) about 7 years ago

Lottie - I think that is the trend right now.  The last couple of times I was in San Francisco I was amazed at all of the condo projects under construction.  Just driving down Market street there I saw probably a half dozen buildings either being built from the ground up or converted to condos. 

Posted by Jim Patton, Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties ( Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816) about 7 years ago

Interesting post Lottie.  I've lived in urban, suburban, and rural communities and BY FAR I prefer the suburban lifestyle, as I'm sure many others do.  I like the conveniences of the city without having to deal with the inconveniences.

It's nice to live in suburbia and take a short drive to a big city's museums, historical landmarks, and restaurant scene and also be able to take a short drive to admire the country skies!  I think suburbia will always have a place for people like myself.

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) about 7 years ago


Living in San Francesco your point of view is understandable. But to some of us it seems your vision is clouded by ambient sickly sweet smoke and the smoke maybe fogging the mind.

I believe that you’re correct about what you see, there was a time when we thought the world was flat, some still believe. From what they could see the conclusion was obvious. Take a few days off, hire a driver and head towards Tahoe as he drives you back keep your eyes open, you may change your mind. 8>))


Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) about 7 years ago

I grew up in NYC and am still adjusting to life in the suburbs where a car is King and really required for having a life.   I think that a lot of redevelopment is focused on the live/work/play mentality and that is moving the urbanism forward.

Posted by Yvette Chisholm, Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500 (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) about 7 years ago

thanks, but no thanks.  the commotion of a city is something some folks will never tolerate...myself included

whenever i visit my more urban friends i am aware of the constant noise everywhere.  the cars,  the trucks,  the horns,  the busses,  the machine hum from  the mechanical ventilation...the complete lack of peace and quiet is pronounced and makes me appreciate the noticable quiet when i return home.

i like a night out more than most but am always glad to wake up to birds, not busses

Posted by Michael Ford, California+Hawaii+Oregon about 7 years ago

Interesting points- we have people changing locations- the young professional is moving out of the city to the suburbs and the retirees are moving back to the city.

Posted by Shanna Hall, I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311 (Real Estate Solutions) about 7 years ago

Back in the 80's I took a graduate class "Urban Planning 401".  We discussed that there is a cycle.  Quick Summary:  people move out to the burbs, the center of the city deteriorates, then after a period of time, people get tired of the drive to the activity, work, shopping etc., so they begin re-generating the center again, remodelling, rebuilding and re-populating.

Posted by Bruce Hicks, Your Lifetime Friend/Helper! (Best Homes Hawaii) about 7 years ago

I grew up inner city, where 2 movie theaters, grocery stores, and other businesses were within a couple blocks of home.  In adult life I moved to the burbs, raised a family, and have been here since.  I must admit however, there is an attraction to the idea of living upstairs in a place like San Francisco, where you can walk downdstairs to the street, and have restaurants, markets, and transportation at your doorstep.  I experienced that a little in London, while visiting there for a number of days, and absolutely loved it!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) about 7 years ago

Many government  policies and programs have basically declared war on the suburbs and I wonder how much of this is the reason.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Dear Lottie,

Understanbable. All those hours spent lugging groceries, water, building materials gets old after a while. Any time you want to go meet someone, it seems like a major trip. In cities, you can often step out of the door & be in the midst of things.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) about 7 years ago

Au Contraire, Lottie, Again this is a very arbitrary and relative theory and like anything in RE has to be held to local perameters. Our five children all grew up in a semi rural suburb in North San Diego County. 

4 of my 5 children all live within a couple hundred feet from the beach. My oldest son lives in an upscale suburb in Solona Beach about a 5 minute drive from his favorite surf spot. He loves his typiclally suburban lifestyle and all that it brings to the table as far as knowing your neighbors, kids growing and playing together, security, etc.

Still yet many of our children's friends that they grew up with are now migrating back to the home town burb they grew up in and buying homes to raise their families in. I thought this very unusual as most young couples tend not to move back into their old neibhborhoods. 

Just my 3 cents worth (adjusted for inflation)

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) about 7 years ago

I all depends on local and cost of RE.  Here in the SW, suburbs are still King.  However there is a resugence of building in the central portion of town.  It all depends on the culture and the market.

Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) about 7 years ago

Very interisting read. Thanks for sharing and its great to geat all the different comments form different areas.. Burbs still working pretty good in Southern Tennessee..

Posted by Robert Hicks (United Country River City Realty) about 7 years ago

Is this from the boomers??  The lure of not raking leaves ever fall has me in a downtown condo (in my mind).  Some of the "driving" trend is exactly that -- the commute.  Who wasn't to spend $500 a month of gas?  But when we have fuel efficient cars, the trend will swing back to the suburbs, and those .25 acre parcels!!

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) about 7 years ago

WOW!! we have a fascinating comment thread here.

Some of you seem to think I'm knocking suburban living; not so. I am sharing a fascinating book with you! Just look at the conversation this has generated!!

Most of my business is in suburban San Mateo County and the Silicon Valley, where multiple offers over list price are the norm (like the 12 offers received on a property last week on which my clients wrote - an offer with only a 7-day financing contingency, about 50% cash down and almost 20% over -- and they didn't get the house.)

I think the benefit a book like this brings is to open our eyes to different life styles and perhaps come to understand the trends, at least a bit.

I found the introduction to the book fascinating, with lots of parallels to what I'm hearing from empty-nesters ("we always wanted to do what you and Gene did [move to the City]") and seeing what interests my younger clients and family members.

I can see I'll need to do a follow up post once I finish reading the book.

Who else plans to read the book?

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

My preference is the suburbs, but I love living in the middle of Irvine.

Posted by Raymond Denton, Veteran Friendly Realtor® (Homesmart / Evergreen Realty) about 7 years ago

I have heard people saying this for years, that the suburbs are dying and the city-lifestyle is where it is at. 

This is nothing new at all.  Young people in their 20s want the cool lifestyle of being in the big city.  But once they start having a family and get away from the party scene, all of the sudden the inner-city schools, the noise, the crime, the tight living quarters, and the high rents do not seem as appealing. 

So they move to the suburbs and raise their family.  The kids have a yard, maybe even a pool.  The schools are much better.  There is a garage to park your car or store all your stuff.  Prices are cheaper. 

Then when the kids move out and the empty nest sets in, the parents either move back to the city or move to some retirement place without any kids around.

And so the cycle continues.

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) about 7 years ago

Bill, #55, I think you missed the point that I'm reading a book. I'm not dissing the suburbs. My primary market is a suburban one, and it is flourishing. 

I'm not in to sickly sweet smoke. I don't need a driver to get me from Tahoe to San Francisco, and I know exactly what I see on that journey.

I, for one, am looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

She doesn't live in places like Oklahoma City where the suburbs are doing just fine, thank you.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) about 7 years ago

Hi Lonnie, sounds like a good read. I'll download it on my Kindle as a sample and see if it holds my interest. Great comments from fellow agents. Thanks for posting a good topic no one has brought up before. At least, not to my knowldge. 

Posted by Elisa Uribe Realtor #01427070, Opening the Doors to California Homes -East Bay (Golden Gate Sotheby's International) about 7 years ago

This is very true.  Part of it is also that what used to be "the suburbs" is now in the city.  Every space between the developments that used to be considered a suburb is now being filling in with strip centers and being absorbed by the growing boundary of the cities as they push for the additional tax revenue.

Posted by Robert Sole (REM Inspections LLC) about 7 years ago

My two daughters and stepson, all born between 1977 and1982 are married with young children, and all have opted for the suburbs as the place to settle.  And it is interesting that all of their college friends have done likewise.  Maybe because they have such good memories of their suburban childhood?  In downtown San Diego, there are lots of hip condos but most buyers attracted to that lifestyle are still into the club scene versus signing children up for soccer.  In San Diego County most folks with kids want a yard and a safe place for them to play outdoors.

Posted by Marti Steele Kilby, CRS, Broker/Owner, San Diego, CA (Steele Group Realty) about 7 years ago

I love living in my small town with a population of less than 2000 people and located about 20 miles from downtown Portland.  Don't tell anyone, though, I don't want everyone moving here...

Posted by Roger Newton (Roger Newton Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Though there will always be a place for the suburbs, you make some great points Lottie.  I can tell how much you are enjoying your move back to the city.  I used to live in San Francisco myself and I can see why you love it so much.

Posted by Scott Larson, Park City, Utah Real Estate News (BHHS/Utah Properties) about 7 years ago

Hi Lottie,

Interesting post and very true as I sit and think about it. I've been talking to more and more people that prefer to live within walking distance of grocery stores, retailers and entertainment, and it seems to be people of all ages nowadays.

Have a great week,


Posted by Momentum Realty, Orange County CA Real Estate Agent (North Orange County CA Real Estate Specialists) about 7 years ago

That seems to be the case the world over, especially the Third World where everyone is swarming to the cities and overcrowding them because they cannot find work outside.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) about 7 years ago
I definitely plan on moving back to the city when I'm too old to drive. Hopefully way before then.
Posted by Dana Hollish Hill, REALTOR and Productivity Coach (Hollish Hill Group, KW Capital Properties) about 7 years ago

Timely post here, Lottie.  I just read an article the other day pointing towards this shift.  This does indeed look like a good read, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Matt Kombrink, Your #1 Source For Real Estate (RE/MAX All Pro) about 7 years ago

I see advantages to living in an environment where you could leave your car parked more than you have to be driving around in it.  Certainly I've seen a shift back to more urban areas for many of my Gen X and Y buyers.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 7 years ago

I live in a small town. Is no urban migration here. Think that may happen in the big cities. Been there done that. Lots of nice aspects But I will settle for small town living. 

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max By The Sea) about 7 years ago

I agree with Bob #67. In our market I find that it is the young (I just left the nest) buyers that are seeking urban living while their counterparts of slightly advanced years (10) are returning to the suburbs and even rural living.  Schools and the environment of raising a family are the primary reasons.


Posted by Bill Morrow, Bill Morrow, Associate Broker (Keller Williams of Central PA) about 7 years ago

What a fascinating conversation. I've noticed this shift myself especially in terms of walkability.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) about 7 years ago

You've sparked my interest.  Sounds like a good read and certainly food for thought.  What I'm seeing is that the singles and the empty nesters are drawn to an urban locale with lots of walkability built in.  Those with families like the "burbs" for the schools, parks, sports and safety.  I don't see that that has changed much over the years.

Posted by Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528, Real Estate Salesperson (Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956) about 7 years ago

I agree with  my case I see younger buyers / retiring boomers want to be able to walk to services, restaurants, shops, etc.  It's the families with kids that head out to the suburbs for the big yard, 'better schools' and the cul de sac lifestyle. 

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) about 7 years ago


Who knew?  Our next door neighbor just moved back home after 9 years away.  At 28, she wants to live "in-town", not way out of town (and we still live in the Atlanta Perimeter...)  which we actually thought was in-town.  

Interesting and I think you are on to something here.

Thanks, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) about 7 years ago

I don't see that in my area...but can understand the appeal of urban life. I do think that fades when kids come along. 

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) about 7 years ago

A lot of cities are trying to attract folks back to the cities.  I know there is a lot going on in Nashua to try to get folks back to the city and the downtown area in particular.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 7 years ago

I can understand young people wanting to move back to the cities, always exciting!  I live in a fabulous small town called St Michaels, 1+ hours from Annapolis and less than 2 hours from Washington DC.  Almost everyone who owns a second home here would love to stay full-time.  We have people from all over the US move here to retire.  At weekends, the town is full of visitors who have discovered this small town.  I love going to Annapolis and DC however this is a wonderful place to live and there is so much to do. 

Posted by Elizabeth Y. Foulds, Your St Michaels Realtor (Long & Foster Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Marty, I think it is interesting how city living is making a come back and we see that in some cities in Colorado with the loft style living being a popular option.  We also see the desire for "needing to put my shoes on to go see my neighbor" as well but still being close to amenities.  I think maybe the different areas of our country bring out different needs/desires/lifestyles.

Posted by Kelly Young, Colorado Springs Real Estate ~ 719-226-0126 (The Platinum Group Realtors) about 7 years ago

Fascinating discussion & here in Portsmouth, NH ... this small city is attracting a population of retirees who want to be able to walk to diner or the theater.

Posted by Tina Gleisner, Home Tips for Women (Home Tips for Women) about 7 years ago

I see a lot of people wanting to move out of the burbs until they find out how much more work they have to do.

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) about 7 years ago

Maybe in some areas but I see more looking to get away from - but stay close to, the cities. Much less traffic, noise, crime, and etc in the burbs. Still, nice to be near a large variety of restaurants, theaters, hospitals and more. Those still working have little choice in many instances. Few want to raise a family in a congested area and many can afford a 2500 sq ft detached home 20 minutes away at the price of a condo in the city.

Posted by John Rakoci, North Myrtle Beach Coastal Carolinas (Eagle Realty) about 7 years ago

Lonnie, Download it on your KINDLE? LOL!  Sure hope it HOLDS your interest! LOLOLOL!!!! One of the funiest things I've heard yet.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) about 7 years ago

Lottie, I agree there is a shift going on and I love the City and would love being able to walk to everything. But I'd still rather raise children in the suburbs than in the City.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) about 7 years ago

Hi Lottie,

Great post and I recently read where this trend is going away too. I like the sign! Enjoy the book.

Posted by Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor, (909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning (Sun Lakes Realty) about 7 years ago

Lottie, loved the title, and your prose is so well-done! Maybe, you too could write a book about this topic--you've got a good start right here!


Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) about 7 years ago

Might not think that the case if you came to Atlanta. One of our outlying counties (the "burbs") has issued more new construction permits, year to date, than in the past two years combined. They can't build them fast enough. 

Our case, as others have said, is schools. Most people that are raising a family (unless they can afford private school) head to the outlying areas for the schools. 

I was at a concert last night and spoke with a couple just like this. Last kid is a junior in high school. As soon as he graduates, they want to sell the house and move into the urban lifestyle. They drive 30 miles every Sunday to go to a spin class, just because they want to be in the city. (I gave then a card....maybe I'll have a Buyer in 2 years!) 

Currently, in our urban core of Midtown and Buckhead, there is NO NEW condominium construction. Developers can't get loans for those buildings. But they are building apartment buildings on every corner, I swear. I wonder when they will flip the switches and convert them to condos. 

If only we had that crystal ball!

Posted by Thom Abbott, Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale ( |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living) about 7 years ago

It had to happen with changes in workplace at home, energy costs, etc.

Posted by Myron Lund, Serving the Rochester area for 30 years (Real Estate Directory) about 7 years ago

Suburban people do have the advantage of better schools, and some land to grow a garden. If those  two things are not important then living in the city is for you.

Posted by Edward Gilmartin (CRE) about 7 years ago

Lottie, I think the younger generation wants to be closer to the city where there are restaurants, bars, stores, etc. where they can be close to the action and entertain.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 7 years ago

Lottie, my thoughts exactly. You must have read my mind. Been giving it more thought on a personal level. Kids are gone. No reason to linger. Lets get a move on.

Posted by Rebecca Howard, Recognized | Respected | Recommended (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 7 years ago

Wow!  I read through all 101 comments.  In my neck of the woods, I see a small contingent of empty nesters longing for city life once again, but overall, we are a destination for so many younger people coming from the city or outer boroughs, looking for a better, more relaxed atmosphere in which to raise their children.  For me, having lived half my life in the city, no thanks.  I'm happy being within easy commuting distance.  Fascinating thread.

Posted by Geri Sonkin, Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert (Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103) about 7 years ago

I think it will depend on the life stage of each home owner whether they stay suburban or urban. Still very tough to raise young families in highly urban settings.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) about 7 years ago

Lottie - Congratulations on the featured post.  Times change and you've done a great job in sharing those trends!

Posted by Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale, Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers (Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260) about 7 years ago

I really wish the suburbs as we know them had never come to be - all that post-war building created traffic and chaos.  That said, I love the burbs!  However, it's nice to see them declining in popularity with the new generation.  Perhaps we can make an effort to reclaim the land a bit - restore the land.

Posted by Bryan Robertson about 7 years ago

We are seeing that trend here in Grand Rapids, MI as well!

Posted by Mary Kent, Grand Rapids to the Lake Shore (Five Star Real Estate ) about 7 years ago

Temecula, CA has an interesting project in the planning stages, something of a hybrid.  There is a quaint Old Town area, that has begun the transformation into a vibrant downtown with a new city hall and civic center  "Envision Jefferson Avenue" looks to bring urban residential housing, mixed-use, employment opportunities, open spaces, entertainment, dining and cultural event access together in one walkable environment.  It will be interesting to see if these hybrid cities within a suburb begin popping up around the country (or already have).

Posted by Ingrid Rothweiler, REALTOR - (951)541-3680 (HomeSmart Realty West) about 7 years ago

Ingrid, I'm very familiar with this project. We own some large parcels on Jefferson and frequent Temecula regularly. In fact my Father-in-law was the gentleman that developed the master plan for what was then Rancho California. He was the President and chief civil engineer/planner and actually negotiated and consummated the purchase of the Vail Ranch back in the 60's.

We just sold our citrus ranch to a vintner a few years ago. It was one of the first and largest Citrus ranches in Temecula. Hated to let it go but when oranges started costing us $5ea we started to come to reality and we're not vintners albeit we love to imbibe in those sweet juices often but love the great Pinos of the Sonoma region.

We've been very supportive and enthusiastic about the Old Town improvements and can't wait for it to come totally to furition. Just had to share this with you. When I read commentary about a place that has been so near and dear to our family for over a half of a century I just get warm fuzzies. Great comment.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) about 7 years ago

Well done Lottie ~ look at the feedback and great comments you inspired with this post. My husband and I talk about moving out of the suburbs all of the time; we want to ride bikes, walk and enjoy the scenery a lot more then ever before. Hmmm, a sign of aging perhaps!!

Posted by Terrie Leighton, Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno (Ferrari-Lund Real Estate ) about 7 years ago

Aging Terrie? You seem to be doing that very well. LOL!

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) about 7 years ago

Thank you all for your comments - it's fascinating to see trends in different parts of the country.

Ingrid and John - I like what you're mentioning about Temecula - I definitely see city centers in suburban towns as a rising trend. Walkability is what people seem to want these days.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

Lottie - Great post!  It seems that the same thing is happening here in Miami.  Many more condo and townhouse buildings going up while its rare to find a new single family home under construction. However, it all depends on what you are looking for.  We are definitely in a sellers market right now without enough single family homes to satisfy the needs of many qualified buyers.

Posted by Jill Penman, Coconut Grove & Coral Gables Lifestyle Expert! (ONE SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY) about 7 years ago

Jill, this book is very interesting. It brings in the whole concept of New Urbanism. I'm glad to hear your market, like ours, is very robust.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) about 7 years ago

Not sure I'm totally on board with that. Just to site one example; In the North San Diego County area in places like Vista, we're seeing a proliferation of my youngest son's school mates and friends buying back into the comunities they grew up in or acquiring their parents properties.

Sure there is a lot of very nice development taking place in cities throughout the USA. However, you can't ignore ever expanding 'URBAN BLIGHT/PLIGHT'. Janis and I love globetrotting and walking the city streets of the World and have been doing so for decades.

We used to love places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Waikiki, Miami, Portland, Seattle just to name a few. However, we've been sorely dissappointed upon many of our returns to the the very neighborhoods we had visited  on countless occassions and held so dearly at how pot holed, run down, neglected and in some cases down right dangerous so many of those once beautiful and safe areas had become.

The continued increase in inner city gang activities, territorial disputes, robbery, rape, murder and the unbelievable increase in intimidating panhandling was an unbelievable culture shock to us. So much so that we have literally checked several of these cities off or our list and are now exploring the many quaint, quiet and relatively safe small cities and towns that exist throughout the World.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 3 years ago

Hi John DL Arendsen  - I agree with a lot of what you say, but the book was very interesting.

Our streets are definitely in poor condition, and it's hard to look passed the vagrants, many with mental problems, who have flocked here from elsewhere. A lot of gang activity in northern California isn't in cities like San Francisco; towns like Stockton and Greenfield in the central valley and Salinas and Watsonville in Monterey county have a huge issue with violent gangs.

In my opinion, suburbs definitely won't be going away, but they are evolving, and in need of mass transit and downtown areas. At some point the car will no longer be king. We see that in Europe, Manhattan, now in San Francisco, probably other cities are going that way. (I suspect Vancouver  BC is getting close.)

If you read the book, let me know what you think.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 3 years ago

Actually Lottie Kendall you are absolutely spot on about cars. We called SF our favorite walking city of all. In all the the times we visited we only came by car a couple of times and regreted it. 

When we fly up we take the BART all the way into the city and walk to our hotel or Air B&B, unload our bags and we're off on our many wonderful adventures i.e. the GGB, Fishermans Warf, China Town, The Haight, Cow Hollow, and all parts known and unknown.

Next to Paris and London we probably chalked up more walking miles in SF that we did in any other city we ever visited. But I'm not just picking on SF. We've been very dissapointed with Paris, London, Madrid, and many other cities in the USA. I guess the Worlds just getting older and you have to accept the good with the bad.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 3 years ago

Things constantly change, don't they, John DL Arendsen ? Some changes are big improvements; others challenges in sire need of fixes.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 3 years ago