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Gen X Falls for the Big City

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis July 8, 2014 08:45 AM

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Gen Xers are increasingly ditching the suburbs to raise families in the big city.

And yes, it's happening in Boston as well.

Sean in West Roxbury, a regular on the comment board of this blog, is seeing the trend play out in his neighborhood as well as in Roslindale.

As I recently noted here, Trulia is reporting an increase in families with young children in cities across the country. Boston saw .6 percent rise in the pre-school set in 2013, outpacing the suburbs.

Both neighborhoods "have seen their commercial districts perk up with new restaurants and bars that cater to the 30s- 50s set, rather than the 20s," Sean writes. "And yes, it's mostly GenXers - folks in their mid-30s to mid-40s who are finally settling down but not wanted to completely abandon the city."

Here's West Roxbury's main drag, Centre Street.


The acid test, of course, will come when the little ones hit school age.

Given the challenges facing Boston's schools, some of these young Gen X families may very well end up moving out to the suburbs.

But neither it is a given, as it was in past generations, that middle-class parents in Boston will head of the exits as first grade approaches. And that counts as progress.

Here's Sean:

It's changed the character of the neighborhoods a bit, and also made them more diverse in a variety of ways. But (with Boston, there's always a "but") the test will come when kids get to be school age. First Pre-K availability. Then elementary. Then the switch to middle school. Then high school. Historically, these areas of Boston have had younger families, but they were apt to bail to the suburbs if they were unlucky in the school process. So, it will be interesting to see if these GenX families will stick to the city rather than flee with the same speed as earlier generations. My guess is yes, even if it means putting their kids in private school, because the allure of having a walkable social life means so much more to the GenX than other generations.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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