Addendum to my post on Austin households with children . . .
Ryan Robinson, Austin's city demographer, produces lots of interesting charts and tables. He has created a neat map depicting the concentration of married-with-children households by 2000 census block, which I have cropped to focus on the urban core:
Married families with children are just a small, small percentage of central Austin households.
So why do most families with children choose the suburbs over central Austin?
Here are some potential explanations:
- Home prices.
- Home size.
- Yard size.
- Because families with children want to live near lots of other families with children, which means the suburbs.
I don't buy 1 or 2. I live in central Austin and I don't worry about crime. Anyway, many of the neighborhoods with higher crime rates have lots of children.
Central Austin does have some bad schools, but it also has some good ones (I'm willing to send my kids to either Zilker or Barton Hills elementary schools), and Austin High School is as good as any public school in the suburbs. Maybe I'm just underestimating the draw of Laura Bush Elementary, though.
I don't believe 5, either. Home lots in the suburbs, or at least in some subdivisions, tend to be quite small. It's true you can't get a 2- or 3-acre lot in central Austin, but that's not what most suburban families are buying.
I think 6 is a possibility. Families with children like being around other families with children -- they like their kids to have other kids to play with, family-oriented businesses tend to cluster around subdivisions with lots of families with children, and parents with children may feel they have more in common with other parents with children. 6 wouldn't explain why families moved to the suburbs in the first place, but it would explain why married couples tend to move to the suburbs after they have children.
I think a combination of 3 and 4 is also a possibility. I should probably phrase it as "home price per square foot." One can get a bigger house for the money in the suburbs. The tradeoff is being farther away from downtown, Zilker Park, UT, South Congress -- the amenities that make central Austin so desirable. Families with children tend to put a higher value on living space than do singles or couples without kids, and so tend to choose bigger houses over living close to downtown.
Can anyone think of other explanations?
(Please note that I'm talking about trends. A particular family could have different preferences. For example, we live in a central Austin infill subdivision with few other families with children; we have next to no yard; and, while we live in a decent-size house, we live in a smaller house than we'd have if we lived in the suburbs. We haven't moved because we like being close to downtown and central Austin's parks.)