Two generations of Americans weighed in on what they want from their communites, and their voices are clear: both Baby Boomers and Millennials want cities to focus less on recruiting new companies and more on investing in transportation options, walkability and amenities.

That’s according to Investing in Place, a report based on a national poll surveying 1,040 Americans – roughly half Millennials, half Boomers. The poll, conducted by Harris and sponsored by the American Planning Association (APA), found that 68 percent of respondents believe the U.S. economy to be fundamentally flawed, and that the best way to improve local economies is through investments that will make cities more desirable places to live and work.

Forty-four percent of respondents said they were “somewhat likely” to “extremely likely” to move in the next five years to one of these “desirable cities.” Fifteen of the most-named potential cities of more than 300 U.S. metro areas were:

  • San Diego
  • New York
  • Boston
  • Denver/Boulder, Colo.      
  • San Francisco             
  • Seattle                         
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Washington D.C.
  • Austin, Texas
  • Phoenix
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Atlanta                         
  • Miami

And what makes these cities desirable? According to APA materials, 65 percent of respondents believe that investments in schools, transportation choices and walkable areas are better ways to grow a local economy than are investments in recruiting companies to move into the area.

“If there is a single message from this poll, it’s that place matters,” APA Executive Director Paul Farmer said in a statement. “Community characteristics like affordability, transportation choices, safe streets, high-speed internet and housing that can accommodate others or enable you to live there as you grow older matter as much as job opportunities.”

Among other key findings of the survey:

  • 79 percent of respondents said living expenses are important when deciding where to live.
  • 76 percent of respondents said affordable and convenient transportation options (other than cars) are at least somewhat important when deciding where to live.
  • 59 percent of respondents said the “shared” economy, or services based on collaboration and sharing of assets among members of the community such as CarToGo or AirBnB, is at least somewhat important to them

“Part of what makes communities healthy and attractive,” APA president William Anderson said in a statement, “is their unique character — what distinguishes them from other places. To prosper, communities need to look ahead and plan so they can build on their local strengths and embrace the opportunities changing times will present.”


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