From the Record:
They want the bustle. They want the convenience. They want the diversity.
In short, they want the city and not the suburbs – even after their children start school.
In a trend that is starting to chip away at the bedrock of suburban North Jersey, a surge of families with young children is gravitating toward New York City, reversing a path worn by generations before them.
Recently released demographic data shows the number of married couples with school-age children rose 10 to 20 percent across middle- and upper-income neighborhoods of New York City just in the first half of this decade, accelerating a trend that began in the mid-2000s. Similar increases were found in urban areas of Hudson County in New Jersey.
At the same time, the number of such families continued to dip across much of Bergen, Passaic, Morris and other suburban counties in New Jersey and New York, according to an analysis of the data by The Record and NorthJersey.com.
While towns closer to the city — and with shorter commutes — have largely escaped the trend, some of the region’s more upscale communities, especially those with longer commutes to jobs in Manhattan, have been hit the hardest.
Across the river, families are putting down roots from Riverdale in the Bronx to the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Park Slope in Brooklyn, where baby carriages have become as common as taxis.
“It’s totally different from where I grew up,” said Malya Levin, who spent her teen years in the city of Passaic and now squeezes into a two-room Park Slope apartment with her husband and toddler. “It’s really night and day, in terms of the diversity of people, the things to do, the lifestyle, the culture, everything.”
But as newly minted urban dwellers settle in, their decisions are starting to pose challenges for suburban communities in the form of declining school enrollments, stagnant home values and elevated office vacancies that experts say are connected to the trend.
“The suburbs are at a serious crossroads,” said New York University sociologist Mitchell Moss, former director of the school’s Urban Research Center. “The family of the future is not the same as the family of the past and young people are no longer living conventional lifestyles. Kids that grew up in the suburbs want to experience a different life and that has made cities attractive again. This is a major, major challenge for the suburbs.”
Communities that adapt will thrive, while those that ignore it “do so at their own peril,” said Rutgers University demographer James Hughes. “This is not a trend likely to go away any time soon.”