How to buy a home in the suburbs
The suburbs are where most of the wealthy live.
It’s a popular theory that the rich are more likely to live in cities, and the affluent are more apt to live there, which could explain why a quarter of Americans live in one place.
But that’s not the case, according to a new study from the Brookings Institution.
According to the study, which looked at data from the 2010 Census, only 15 percent of Americans are in suburbs, and only 8 percent of them live in metropolitan areas.
That’s down from a peak of 40 percent in 2006, but still far from the national average of 25 percent.
And while that might sound great for those who enjoy the city life, the report found that the suburbs have little in common with the rest of the country.
“The suburbs don’t have the same level of socioeconomic diversity as other American cities, such as Boston or New York,” the authors write.
“In the most recent census, only 12.6 percent of suburban households reported at least one race, five percent of households reported two or more races, and 5.9 percent reported at a combination of races.”
In other words, the suburbs aren’t much like the rest and have very little to offer.
“There’s a big disconnect between what the suburbs are and what they were like before,” says Christopher Rieger, a senior fellow at Brookings who worked on the study.
“You can see it in the way the suburbanites are treated in these communities.”
It’s not just poor people who are moving into the suburbs.
Riegers also found that suburbs are becoming less attractive to middle-class people, because middle-income people are increasingly moving to the suburbs because of rising housing costs and the growing number of people living there.
In fact, the suburban population of metro Atlanta has grown by almost 50 percent since 2000, and that’s despite the fact that the population of suburbs in that city has remained steady.
That means that the number of middle-wage jobs in the metro area is decreasing.
“If you are an affluent white person, if you have the money to buy your own home, you want to live on the West Coast,” says Riegs.
“But if you are a middle-aged suburbanite who is not affluent, you have to live further from the coast.”
Meanwhile, the study found that suburban homeownership rates are declining, and they’re falling faster than the national rate.
Riesger says that’s a good thing.
“I think suburban people are living in more sustainable communities,” he says.
“They are paying less in taxes, they are paying their fair share in property taxes, and it’s not like they are going to go bankrupt.”