New data reveals Americans rediscovering small towns

If you’ve ever lived in a small town or city, these new census figures will not surprise you:

More Americans, especially retirees, are moving to small towns for the safer, cleaner, more affordable life. Even those younger Gen X types who put off families for the bright lights of the big city are moving out of there, usually to suburbs.

One major reason for urban flight is the rising cost of housing, which if you’re paying rent, is like burning money. City populations are still growing slightly but much less than before and mainly because of immigrant arrivals. In the last half-decade large cities have gone from population magnets to last year collectively losing nearly a half-million residents to suburbs or smaller cities.

Suburban population migration in large metropolitan areas rose one percent last year and has tripled during the last five years. Suburban developers are competing with downtowns by offering shopping and workplaces within walking distance. Plus that traditional magnet: Good schools.

Two years ago women between 30 and 34 recorded their highest birthrate in more than a half-century, higher even than those women in the 25 to 29 cohort, traditionally the prime baby-making years.

As for grandparents, they’re on the move too.  The populations of areas described as retirement destinations in federal definitions grew two percent last year alone.

These include familiar locations such as snow-free communities in Florida.

But thanks to single-floor housing plans, clean air and water, stunning scenery and high-speed Internet, farther-flung residential areas like Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, now the country’s fifth fastest-growing metro area, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming are attracting thousands. Even Pennsylvania in the Gettysburg area is drawing refugees from places like Baltimore.