17 July 2002
The Move to Exurbia . . . and Beyond
From "Herman Trend Alert," by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com.
For years, we have watched the gradual move of businesses and residences to independent communities beyond the suburban fringe of major cities. The drivers to exurbia have been economic and lifestyle preferences, for families and employers. Land, housing, services, taxes, and other expenses are cheaper in exurbia, and with today's technology, a business can operate quite well. The less congested environment often means employees are less stressed, more productive, and more stable.
Lifestyle issues include knowing your neighbors, being involved in the community, enjoying a low crime rate, and being engaged with your children's education. People who discover the simpler, less-complicated, small town life wonder why they didn't move before.
Out-migration to exurbia has been measurable, but relatively slow. As young people went away to school and stayed in the Big City, migration out of small towns has been more noticeable. Now, we are on the threshold of a major demographic shift as those people who grew up in the heartland feel the spirit of home drawing them back.
There are countless examples of people living in metropolitan areas until they have children. As those children begin to grow, their parents face childcare challenges, remember their growing-up years, and think about moving back home. Changes in societal comfort since September 11 have inspired many people to return to their roots in small towns. As they evaluate their decision to change location and lifestyle, they take a closer look at that area where they grew up.
Take Fargo, North Dakota, for example, located on the Red River with its neighbor, Moorhead, Minnesota. In 2000, Fargo-Moorhead became the first two-city community to be named an "All-American City." Over 70 percent of the high school graduates go to college. Two state universities and a private liberal arts college allow their students to take courses on each others' campuses for full credit. There are plenty of jobs, sports at the Fargodome, a low crime rate, and numerous other attractive reasons to move to a community beyond exurbia. Like warm people year-round and cold weather in the winter? Maybe you should move to Fargo?