Hipsturbia: Real estate trend has millennials ditching cities for small-town life

More and more people are ditching hip urban neighborhoods and heading for the ‘burbs, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to give up their “live/work/play” lifestyles.”

The latest annual “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report from the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers identified a growing trend called “hipsturbia”— “cool” suburbs with vibrant downtowns that offer walkability, public transit and a variety of restaurants, retail and recreation.

Lindsay Rothman, a real estate agent in Westchester County, New York — just north of New York City — said she’s been seeing the trend for a while, but the number of millennials moving out of the city for suburban communities has been increasing recently.

“It used to be people were holding onto their city or Brooklyn lifestyle as long as they possibly could, until their walls were going to burst, and then making the migration up here” Rothman said. “But now I’m seeing more and more young people who just are looking for a different lifestyle that’s a little quieter, yet has that city feel.”

The New York Times reported on the “hipsturbia” trend back in 2013, noting that people were moving to near-the-city-yet-vibrant communities like those in Westchester. But now the trend has expanded to other major metro areas, according to the new report. Communities along Silicon Valley, like Santa Clara, California, have moved to add space for passive recreation along with new developments. Outside Chicago, communities like Evanston, Illinois offer rooftop bars, shopping and access to Chicago via public transit. Near Atlanta, the report found that suburban communities were using walkable, mixed-use developments in a bid to attract a pool of young workers.

The trend has even been growing in smaller markets like Charleston and college towns like Tempe, Arizona, according to the report.

Charleston, South Carolina, USA cityscape in the historic French Quarter.

People are discovering that those smaller communities can have all the same charms as a big city, the report found. It predicts that some millennials will continue moving to those suburban communities that present “hip” offerings.

Rothman said many people move up to Westchester looking for a home in walking distance to a train. But once they get there, it ends up not being so important.

“I’m seeing less and less of people who are moving to our area because of the short commute to the city,” Rothman said. “A lot of people are moving here and not really looking to commute, or they’re going in one day a week. And they’re finding this area as an area where their businesses can thrive as well.”

Harwood Court in Scarsdale, Westchester County, New York.

It’s not just millennials who are fueling growth in “hipsturbia,” according to Rothman. She said empty-nesters looking to downsize are also opting to stay in their towns instead of moving into the city.

“We’re seeing more and more people wanting to stay, because the communities are awesome and they have everything they need right here,” Rothman said.