Not Your Typical Urban News — Part 1

As part of my summer roundup of unconventional news items on various subjects, here are some things happening in cities, states/provinces and other sub-national governments.  I’ve organized these items into four categories: urban migrations; urban work/life balance; urban technology; and compassion.  Let’s review the first two now.

Urban Migrations

Despite the continuing drumbeat about everyone moving to the downtown of cities, the actual patterns of migration are much more complex.  
This story perhaps explains some of the movement of people – “These Are the Top 20 Cities Americans Are Ditching: Soaring costs of living meant residents left New York City and its suburbs in droves”.  The story is not just about New York, of course:

“New York City, Los Angeles, Honolulu: They’re all places you would think would be popular destinations for Americans. So it might come as a surprise that these are among the cities U.S. residents are fleeing in droves. …

“Interestingly, these are also the cities with some of the highest net inflows of people from outside the country. That gives many of these cities a steadily growing population, despite the net exodus of people moving within the U.S.

“And as Americans leave, people from abroad move in to these bustling cities to fill the vacant low-skilled jobs. [And live in cramped quarters native-born residents don’t want]”

We also see a recent report from the Brookings Institution, titled the “The end of suburban white flight”.  William H. Frey points out:

“As the nation’s white population ages and stagnates, the childbearing population is increasingly made up of minorities, who are increasingly drawn to the suburbs. In fact, whites are hardly the lifeblood of suburban growth anymore. … Suburbs will continue to grow in the future, but increasingly as a result of the rapid growth of the nation’s growing young minority families.”


While you might expect there to be a difference in how people of different ages feel about where they live – with young people, in theory, finding cities hip – that story is also more complicated.  Dave Nyczepir reported a few weeks ago that “Wyoming Seniors Don’t Feel Much Better Off Than Younger Generations. But That’s Not Necessarily a Bad Thing.  Delaware, by comparison, boasts the biggest senior advantage in well-being, according to a new well-being index.

The news is not just about people moving from one city to another, but even moving less once they’re there.

Urban Work/Life Balance

For much of the 20th century, commuting was one of the most unpleasant aspects of living in a metropolis.  Long commutes were a major contributed to a lack of balance between work and the rest of life, in addition to adding all sorts of bad things into the air.

With that in mind, Wendell Cox wrote recently that “Working at Home: In Most Places, the Big Alternative to Cars”.

There were another couple of articles that carried this idea further.  Last week, Business Insider reported that “Startups are opening ‘co-living’ spaces, so you never have to leave home to go to work”, which was, in turn, based on a BuzzFeed report titled “Living In The Disneyland Version Of Startup Life”.  These describe several ventures in various cities and suburbs around the US that offer or will offer not only the usual co-working spaces, but co-living as well, all in one shared location.

One consequence of these trends in home working is that Iowa’s state transportation chief predicted the road system “is going to shrink”, as reported recently in a CityLab story “Iowa Makes a Bold Admission: We Need Fewer Roads”.

© 2015 Norman Jacknis


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