Youth Beat

Map reveals the hottest Austin neighborhoods for young adults

Map reveals the hottest Austin neighborhoods for young adults

SXSW Laneway 2014 Event at Holy Mountain 67898
Photo by Jon Shapley
Austin youth population map
Austin leads the trend of youthification.  Courtesy of Generationed City
SXSW Laneway 2014 Event at Holy Mountain 67898
Austin youth population map

Most people are familiar with the concept of gentrification, but not everyone knows about a new phenomenon dubbed "youthification."

Instead of a neighborhood's population changing in terms of economic or social status due to new residents, the trend of youthification describes an influx of young adults, aged 25 to 34, and the effects that change has on an area.

Dr. Markus Moos, a geographer and urban planner at the University of Waterloo, coined this process youthification "to explain the phenomenon of young adults moving centrally (within a metropolitan area) as a result of rising affordability concerns, growing demand for urban lifestyles, a desire to get around without a car, declining household size and growing educational attainment, among other factors," he explains via his Generationed City project.

Moos says youthification occurs through a number of stages. It starts with younger people moving into relatively inexpensive neighborhoods, perhaps those with spaces leftover from de-industrialized manufacturing districts. As the process continues, newer rental housing and one-bedroom apartments are built and amenities like restaurants and bars are added, helping draw greater numbers of young people even as the cost of living rises.

As part of his project, Moos charts the most youthified metropolitan cities in the United States and Canada according to the percent of the population that falls between ages 25 and 34. 

In Salt Lake City and the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metro, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, 16.93 percent of the population falls within that age range. 

In Austin, many areas with the highest concentration of young adults are located within six miles of the city's center. Generally, the highest concentration is found west of I-35, both north and south of the river. Additionally, another high concentration pocket of young adults exists in Northwest Austin, near Jollyville. 

As young people in the U.S. and Canada experience reduced job security, less assistance from the social safety net, growing housing prices, delayed childbearing and an increased desire for urban living, they are opting to live closer to city centers where apartments are more readily available. Moos adds that it's unclear as to whether this pattern will continue or if those moving to city centers in their twenties and thirties will eventually move out to the suburbs to raise their children.

Although pronounced, the generational segregation observed in metropolitan cities is not as obvious as an ethnic or class divide, Moos finds, although he adds that "there are clear signs of a process of youthificiation underway that is indeed creating generationed spaces in our cities that, if intensified in the future, could lead to further inter-generational conflict."