Leaving the big city for the suburbs – and then pulling up the drawbridge

In yet another article about the possibility of people leaving cities for suburbsthis time in The Washington Post – the narrative ends with this:

ancient architecture black white black and white

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Those who study cities say they will remain in the long term and that many jobs will come back. People such as Bailey, who moved away from the Bay Area, are banking on that. He declined to name the town where he moved for fear more people will relocate there, driving up prices.

“I like keeping the local culture and the area is relatively affordable now,” he said. “I’d rather not see the same price inflation that happened in the Bay happen to smaller communities as well.”

On one hand, this could reflect housing market realities in some of the priciest markets in the country. Prices are so high in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and a few other places that finding reasonably priced housing is something people want to protect. If more people can work remotely, certain places could become more attractive and experience an influx of residents.

On the other hand, is this similar logic to the exclusion in suburbia practiced for decades? This exclusion tended to be along race and class lines; suburbanites wanted to be around those like them and keep others out. When they moved into new subdivisions or what used to be small towns, they later use NIMBY logic to limit opportunities for others. What was an opportunity for them could not become an opportunity for others.

Those with resources and connections will likely have advantages in a race for more attractive or affordable locales. Some will be able to pay more for the privilege of leaving the city. Those moving to the suburbs may simply contribute to ongoing patterns of residential segregation across metropolitan regions, whether they officially live in a city or suburb.

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