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nashville_bound

Exurbs-Rural Boom?

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The return of cheap gas and cheap housing lure people to the outer rings, to some extent.  There's always going to be a range of people looking for different things, but the remarkable thing right now is still re-urbanization, the reversal of a 100 year trend of cities exploding outward.  

 

The people in that article all basically said they don't like cities, but they are increasingly in the minority, because of the amazing change that has happened in our cities--they've gone over the last 50-60 years from being filthy, smoky, smelly and dangerous to being really nice, clean, and full of restaurants, bars, parks, museums and every kind of amenity.  I lived in St. Louis til I was 12, back in the mid-20th century, and it smelled like a garbage can full of bacon.  The clean air act has probably done more for urbanization than any other single measure.

Edited by Neigeville2
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The tone of the article -- as well as those quoted in it -- comes across as wishing this to be true. 

 

1) Rural areas as a whole are struggling across the nation. Many of them are losing population. Some are still growing, but are demographically unstable because either young adults are moving away at the first chance they get, or the positive net migration is supported primarily by retirees and the area has a natural decrease in population (more deaths than births).

 

2) If they haven't figured out that many young people do WANT and actually CHOOSE to live in cities, then I'm not sure why they are bothering to study demographics, because they suck at it. This isn't to say that there aren't young people that WANT and CHOOSE to live in the suburbs. Not at all. The "maybe young people just got stuck in the cities because they have no place to go and the economy is bad" excuse is about the stupidest damn thing I've heard. It's denial. Will the trend last? I do not know. But the demographic shift within urban America speaks for itself.

 

3) Do these people that all move to a certain place to "get out of the rat race of the city" realize that they are bringing the city with them? Enough people move there and *boom* you're just another unrecognizable suburban town. 

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Somewhat related: I noticed recently how fast Wilson County is growing. Population should be around 140,000 by 2020, which would be an increase of 27,000. It's likely to be more, as permit growth has accelerated in the past two years. Can't help Wilson is the next Williamson, as it becomes more an alternative with affordable housing, good schools... and a lake.  I'd expect several corporate office campuses to start appearing along I-40 in the next few years. No doubt, Providence has ignited a lot of that.

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Somewhat related: I noticed recently how fast Wilson County is growing. Population should be around 140,000 by 2020, which would be an increase of 27,000. It's likely to be more, as permit growth has accelerated in the past two years. Can't help Wilson is the next Williamson, as it becomes more an alternative with affordable housing, good schools... and a lake.  I'd expect several corporate office campuses to start appearing along I-40 in the next few years. No doubt, Providence has ignited a lot of that.

 

Do we consider Wilson County an exurb or a suburb? For instance: I consider Springhill a suburb, although I could consider it each way, and consider Maury an exurb. Am I completely off base here?

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I think people like exurbs because of affordability. They can get newer homes, and want they want for less money, if they move further from the city center. 

 

I was driving with a friend in Murfreesboro the other day on a rural road and out of nowhere very nice, new homes appeared. I remember thinking it was too far out for me personally. However, I think people like rural environments, and the look of them, but still being within a reasonable commute to a larger city. I think the article is true for rural, exurban communities in metro areas. Thats very different from rural communities not within a metro. 

Edited by MetroTN

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Do we consider Wilson County an exurb or a suburb? For instance: I consider Springhill a suburb, although I could consider it each way, and consider Maury an exurb. Am I completely off base here?

 

I think its subjective really. I think Wilson County is a suburban county. I think all of the cities within it are suburbs but some may consider Lebanon an exurb. This is similar to how I view Rutherford County. I think its a suburban county of Nashville but some dont view Murfreesboro as a suburb. I dont really think the labels matter much really.

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Do we consider Wilson County an exurb or a suburb? For instance: I consider Springhill a suburb, although I could consider it each way, and consider Maury an exurb. Am I completely off base here?

 

It's a complicated issue. I think it is possible for a county to include suburban and exurban elements. For the most part, the county seats surrounding Nashville are exurban. They existed long before suburbanization, and when that came, it grew around the city rather than towards Nashville.

 

Examples: 

In Wilson County, Mount Juliet and Green Hill (a CDP) are decidedly suburban. They grew up in the auto age and have exploded literally right on the edge of the county. It is primarily residential and retail. Lebanon, on the other hand, is an old small town with a traditional town square, and most development is centered around the town, not towards Nashville (though they have annexed a lot towards Nashville). It is not physically connected to the Nashville urban area, unlike Mount Juliet (which begins immediately past Hermitage).

 

In Sumner County, Hendersonville is a classic auto age white flight suburb (I don't mean that as a derogatory term -- just basing that on history) right on the county line. It's like a more mature Mount Juliet -- primarily residential, with a decent amount of retail. Gallatin seems to be in transition to me. In the 90s, it was considered quite a haul to get to Gallatin. Physically separate from Hendersonville, and with employment and amenities of its own. But now with all of the (rather nice, btw) development that is starting to bridge the gap between Hendersonville and Gallatin, it is starting to act a little more like a far out suburb. It could eventually transition just like Franklin has.

 

In Williamson County, Brentwood is definitely a suburb, despite having a large employment base of its own. Like Hendersonville, it grew up right on the county line in the 70s-80s. I would say that Franklin used to be exurban, but with the growth of Cool Springs, has become a suburb. Even though Cool Springs is a hub in itself, the growth of Franklin and the proximity to Nashville (closer than the other county seats), it has a higher level of interaction with Nashville, and there is continuous development from Franklin all the way to Nashville. Spring Hill is an odd bird. I would probably call it exurban, despite it's suburban characteristics. 

 

WIth Rutherford County, I think La Vergne and Smyrna are definitely suburban, though they have a bit more industrial/manufacturing (sort of like Brentwood and Franklin have offices) than typical suburbs. Murfreesboro is sort of a hybrid. It is growing towards Nashville. It has its own identity. It has its own employment base, and a large university to boot....but it has a fairly significant commuting population. Subexurban? Or is it/has it grown into a secondary hub (a binary star of sorts)? Or do you consider each of Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Franklin all to be significant hubs (basically, as they are called in the officially metropolitan name, secondary cities)?

 

 

Somewhat related: I noticed recently how fast Wilson County is growing. Population should be around 140,000 by 2020, which would be an increase of 27,000. It's likely to be more, as permit growth has accelerated in the past two years. Can't help Wilson is the next Williamson, as it becomes more an alternative with affordable housing, good schools... and a lake.  I'd expect several corporate office campuses to start appearing along I-40 in the next few years. No doubt, Providence has ignited a lot of that.

 

I'd agree with most of that, though I think the office development won't be significant. At least not in Wilson County. There's a large mass of office space already in Donelson near the airport -- with a standing proposal to add more.

 

If there is any city in the metro (aside from Nashville/Brentwood/Franklin, where the overwhelming majority of office space exists) that I see getting any meaningful amount of office space...my money is on Murfreesboro. It's already happening....though in small pieces right now. The Avenue/Medical Center Pkwy, has a lot more potential than Providence IMO.

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Great explanation, UTGrad! You just made me realize things I hadnt before about those labels. 

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Based on our experience in Nashville, I would agree that earlier migrations from cities were based in part on cities' undesirability-crime, pollution, etc.- and suggest that the recent trend, if there is really one, is because of cities' desirability-desirability that has caused housing price increases that force people out of the urban market.

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I lived in Mt Juliet from 2007to 2009 and there was an obvious difference in mentality between people there and people in Lebanon. My best friend an I used to joke about Highway 109 being a deciding line between a Nashville suburb and a town that had not yet realized it was no longer 1950.

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The sense that I have gotten from interacting with several people who have moved to the area and watching home prices is similar to what Nashville Cliff said.  As people have returned to the "city" prices have skyrocketed up.  For singles and empty nesters the lure of the city has been drawing them back.  However, for families there are still major hurdles to be overcome.

 

Schools are still a major, major issue for Nashville, and cost has become an issue that is tied with the schools issue.  There is really only one "cluster" in the city that provides K-12 education that is seemingly on par with that of the suburbs (using testing as a metric which has its issues), which is the Hillsboro Cluster (Percy Priest, Julia Green, Sylvan Park, Eakin, and the new Waverly Belmont are the elementaries).  Of course, this set of schools is located in the most expensive part of the city that is simply unaffordable for the vast majority of families.  The effect that this has had is that prices in those areas have skyrocketed.  For the parents who are firmly middle class but value education (nurses, accountants, IT, teachers, etc) they are still leaving the city and going to places that are more affordable that provides the perception of a better education.

 

IMO, that has has some major effects on everyone.  The effect of that for families is that high income people who can afford to live in the desirable neighborhoods are coming back to the city in droves. For those families that cannot afford a $250,000 house in the suburbs they are choosing to rent in more affordable neighborhoods of Nashville which are associated with lower performing schools. For people in the market for houses in the $250-400,000 range the suburbs are still the overwhelmingly popular choice. 

 

It's my opinion that for Nashville to attract those middle to upper-middle income families Metro Schools has to focus on their needs.  

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I think its subjective really. I think Wilson County is a suburban county. I think all of the cities within it are suburbs but some may consider Lebanon an exurb. This is similar to how I view Rutherford County. I think its a suburban county of Nashville but some dont view Murfreesboro as a suburb. I dont really think the labels matter much really.

This is the category I fall into. I grew up in Nashville, moved to Murfreesboro for school, got married and moved to Smyrna, and now we moved to the Murfreesboro/Rockvale line. I work in Murfreesboro, so commute isn't horrible (yet, I'm sure in 10 years Veterans will be bumper to bumper). I just enjoy being surrounded by farmland, it's more soothing to me, plus I like the schools out here better than what is available in Nashville. I definitely understand why people love living in the city, but right now, it's just not for me. If I was still single, I'd probably be in Nashville.

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I completely understand why people love the rural lifestyle.  City living isn't for everyone.  What I don't understand is why so many of those who claim to enjoy said lifestyle move to a subdivision in Smyrna a quarter mile from a strip mall in order to pursue it.  Suburbia, to me, has most of the drawbacks of urban life without most of the benefits. 

Edited by BnaBreaker
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Speaking from a Williamson County education, I get it. I want to live in the city, I'm working out affordability to do that.  But if I had kids I'd want to give them the education I had. 

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As a young guy (30) with a wife and 2 kids (4 years and 8 months) who go to church in the burbs we have had these discussions quite frequently. We decided to move from East Nashville to North Nashville for a couple reasons. 1 - our neighborhood is dual zoned for Gower Elementary, so we have a halfway decent back up plan. But my daughter currently goes to Hull Jackson Montessori Magnet and after one year, we love it. We love her teachers and the administration seems pretty good. Parents are active there. Its a magnet but it is required to take 40% from the neighborhood, so it was relatively easy for us to get in.

 

But even if schools are a bit of a challenge, after growing up in the suburbs and then exurbs of Memphis, I want my kids to grow up in the city. In the city, you live and go to school with people from different cultures and backgrounds and income brackets. And if people didn't call the cops now for letting kids step out of their backyard by themselves, they could walk to parks, to the corner store or even hop on the bus when they are old enough. You just can't do that in the burbs.

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