Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Jun 26th 2010 at 12:27pm UTC

Urban Family Land

Families are coming back to the city according to this New York Times report. Big apartments – with three to five bedrooms – are all “the rage,” says the Times, as families rediscover New York City living. Money quote:

“The new Bergen County or Westchester County is now the West Village and the Upper West or Upper East Sides,” Darren Sukenik, a managing director at the New York real estate firm Prudential Douglas Elliman, told the Times. “Big families are back, and nobody wants to move to suburbia. It’s the antithesis of what our parents did.”

11 Responses to “Urban Family Land”

  1. Joe Says:

    Yeah, large apartments are “all the rage” for NYC families with a few million dollars to spend. Who are you kidding? This is supposed to be good news for the bulk of New York City resisdents and aspiring residents? I hope you’re well paid for these puff pieces, so that you too one day can be of the privileged class of large apartment ragers.

  2. Wil Says:

    A large apartment in NYC is as much of a solution for most large families as is a house in Beverly Hills. Please do not present such fantasies as a trend.

  3. Deep Says:

    20 somethings move into the city, and according conventional wisdom, they become 30 and meet their life partner, and then move to the suburbs. That’s what supposed to happen, but a growing number of people turn 30 and meet their life partners and stay in the city. They are not all millionaires either. They spent the last couple of years of their lives in the city, they have invested in it, and why should they stop investing because they have kids? Various urban neighborhoods around the country are showing it is quite possible to raise a family, in urban areas without breaking the bank.

  4. MPS Says:

    Mr. Florida, I’ve respected your work over the last several years even though I don’t agree with much of it (I’ll admit I’m a “Kotkinist”, though I don’t agree with all of his opinions either). But this woefully biased article and the cherry-picked anecdotes stoops to a new low for you in grasping to find some big urban trend here. I’ll be the first to admit that the housing bubble pushed home-”ownership” to obscene and unsustainable levels, particularly on the exurban fringes. But it’s also true there is a huge glut of in-town urban condos from that bubble as well, and sorry, what may work for a certain segment in Manhattan just isn’t going to work in downtown Raleigh or Austin (both otherwise “creative class” cities you tout). Do you really think that Manhattan apartment with monthly MAINTENANCE CHARGES over double most Americans’ MORTGAGE PAYMENTS is something to put forward as a solution to most Americans’, or even most New Yorkers’, housing needs? I am intrigued by your thoughts about rental housing options as an alternative to the suburban 30-year-mortgage model, but you’re going to have to work harder than showing a solution for multi-millionaire Manhattanites, and show us something for the electrical engineer who lives in Basking Ridge as well.

  5. Michael Wells Says:

    The article is from the Times real estate section, which has a tendency for puff pieces about upscale neighborhoods. However, I think the same trend of families moving to cities and looking for larger apartments can be found elsewhere — Probably Brooklyn, Queens, etc. as well as less expensive parts of Manhattan. We were in NYC recently and were surprised at the number of strollers and young families we saw. Also at the prices of smaller condos in places like Chelsea, which seemed surprizingly reasonable.

    The same thing has happened in Portland, where Pearl District condos were targeted at singles & older couples without kids, but families with kids moved in too. Or younger couples moved in, then had babies. There’s even been talk of a school for the neighborhood.

  6. MPS Says:

    I think young families in urban condo neighborhoods is an old story (at least 5-7 years old, probably). Strollers have been seen in Park Slope, etc. for some time now as a wave of “young family gentrification”, but they do not portend some larger trend of net in-migration of such families into dense urban neighborhoods.

    That is not to say that the only other option is a 4,000-square foot McMansion in Basking Ridge, NJ (as I may have seemed to imply in my previous post). The NYT has a decent article on families who strongly wanted to stay in Park Slope but opted for nice, established suburban areas with good schools and good transit connections. The “model suburb” they use is Montclair, NJ:

    Other cities, especially larger ones, probably have similar areas where the trade-offs of space-vs.-location work well for many, otherwise “urban” families. In the Chicago area, for example, there is Oak Park and Evanston (i.e., one doesn’t have to move out to Naperville or Schaumburg). Atlanta has Decatur. DC has Takoma Park, MD. And I bet there are many “under-the-radar” suburbs that have decent 3/4-bedroom homes (if built in the 1950s/1960s), good schools (if not the ones that top the test score charts), stable downtowns, a grid street system, and a rail line stop. I’m not as familiar with the NYC versions of these older suburbs, but around Chicago I can think of, the Skokie/Morton Grove area just west of Evanston, and LaGrange just southwest of Oak Park. They may not be as fashionable as the Montclairs of the world, but they are beginning to be (re-)discovered. In Chicago, a few bike enthusiasts have learned to appreciate the walk/bike-friendly environment of suburbs like Homewood, which is south of the city:

    “Homewood is an old railroad town with an authentic downtown of stores and restaurants – exactly what newer suburbs these days are trying to manufacture from scratch.”

  7. fds Says:


  8. Long Island Magician Says:

    Do you care if I quote your article on my Self Help Forum? I think your topic suits my audience perfectly. Uhmmm, thanks for posting this.

  9. Myszków Says:

    Very clever text. I dream to do as interesting textes. My city is beautiful and we want that it is meant for me.

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