People are on the move to urban centres, especially young millennials. In a recent survey, 62% of millennials preferred to live in “diverse use” communities. They aren’t alone: almost half the global population lives in cities. By 2050, it’s estimated the urban population will be about 70%. Cities are a great mix of young and old, couples and families—living, working, shopping and having fun—in the same place.
Urbanites are looking for affordable, eco-friendly, integrated, inclusive and asuthenic communities. They want to live and work in places where walking, biking and taking public transit aren’t an exception. They’re not judging their lives on square footage but on the richness of community, social connections, ease of work/life balance and proximity to public parks, museums and cultural attractions.
Cities too are looking for ways to transform urban life. From laneway housing to environmental sustainability and health resources, cities around the world are focussed on the future. While still prohibitively expensive for many, Vancouver has tried to ensure that families can still live in the city’s core with high-density housing policies. Paris is radically fighting against it’s own housing crisis. And Stockholm wants to truly be a “Walkable City”, weaning itself from cars, with some streets banning cars outright.
Changes aren’t just happening in established megacities either. Tiny homes, for one, are popping up in housing experiments, as people question zoning restrictions and try to find innovative ways of providing affordable homes. Trending U.S. cities, according to a recent report from Yelp, are Charlotte, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida and Omaha, Nebraska. A big factor in the report was whether businesses had remained open for the past year. After all, small businesses are the engines of their communities and employ half the U.S. workforce.
There are bold plans for tackling 21st century growing pains, like old or outdated infrastructure, traffic congestion, food security, affordability and public spaces. Public/private partnerships are forming, like Sidewalk Toronto, to tackle these and other issues and create neighborhoods and cities of the future.