Living in the city is cool, but are the suburbs cooler? I’m torn.

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Recently, I’ve walked down main street in both Davidson and Matthews. And I’ve fallen in love with their downtowns.

Neighbors know each other. Small businesses are thriving.

Life seems simple. Life seems less expensive.

Before bed, I fired up my Zillow app to view home prices. I liked the prices, a lot.

brakeman's-coffee-dinner-and-date-spot

Brakeman’s, located in downtown Mathews. [Agenda related story: Downtown Matthews is becoming a destination]

I can’t do it. I think I can’t do it.

After all, I run a media company that covers Charlotte. But damn, if it’s not tempting, especially with a young family.

Instead of a “city guy,” I may just be a “suburb guy.”

Turns out, I’m not alone.

davidson- summit coffee

Summit Coffee’s line can be out the door check out their freshly baked scones and smoothies. [Agenda related story: How to spend the perfect 12 hours in adorable Davidson, just 30 minutes from Charlotte]

After 15 years, the seemingly endless flight to cities may be coming to an end.

Here’s part of a recent story from The New York Times:

“While many, if not most, large cities grew faster than their suburbs between 2000 and 2015, in the last two years the suburbs outgrew cities in two-thirds of America’s large metropolitan areas… Despite the hype around micro-apartments and other innovations intended to cram more people into less room, many Americans still want space. They want to live in detached suburban homes, or in an apartment with enough square footage and access to outdoor space that it feels like one. Two-thirds of people born since 1997, including those who live in cities, want to live in single-family suburban homes, according to a 2015 survey, but the costs make this aspiration prohibitively expensive in most urban centers.”

Just like we’ve seen a boom in urban apartments, we’re about to see a boom in Charlotte suburbs.

Sure, plenty of people are obsessed with tiny homes and micro-apartments to make them a huge financial hit — but many people still want a home. Especially when they have kiddos.

And something that’s not easily quantifiable, people yearn for community. Even with the rise of neighborhood identities, I’m incredibly bullish on suburbs like Matthews, Davidson, Fort Mill, Belmont, Mooresville, Huntersville, Rock Hill, Weddington and Waxhaw.

Interestingly, Bloomberg points out that a future mega-city may look a lot like what’s happening in Charlotte. “Greater Houston, or greater Los Angeles — could in fact be a series of smaller cities, all trading with each other in close proximity, with commuting zones and housing markets that overlapped.”

We’re experiencing a perfect storm of events for Charlotte suburbs to boom:

  • Work from home. More workers are now enabled to work from home, thus making the commute a non-factor.
  • Prices. Home prices in center city neighborhoods ranging from Plaza Midwood to Dilworth to Eastover have skyrocketed.
  • Downtowns. Urban planners have designed main streets in suburban cities that serve as incredibly attractive city centers.

Charlotte’s suburbs are getting cooler and cooler — at the perfect time. Within the next few years, my bet is that we’ll see city dwellers turn into suburb lovers.

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).