Thursday, May 31, 2012

How the Childless and Childfree are Transforming Neighborhoods

I was recently interviewed by Marilyn Lewis, a reporter for MSN, who wanted to know what the childless and childfree wanted in terms of neighborhoods. The resulting article titled Grownupville: Neighborhoods for the New Childless Majority takes a fascinating look at how the childless and childfree are transforming neighborhoods, some formerly blighted, into meccas for no-kid households.

Having lived in or visited three of the top 10 communities profiled, I have to agree that the new majority, the childless household, is having a significant influence on the way we think about building a community. The childfree typically look for neighborhoods that are vibrant, stimulating, with easy access to restaurants, entertainment, workplaces, and services designed to support active and healthy lifestyles. They are not looking for the best school district, playgrounds (unless it's an off-leash dog park), or access to other families. In fact the opposite is quite true, as I was quoted saying here:
The impulse to form communities of childless people may seem inexplicable to outsiders, but it makes perfect sense to Scott. People who want to reproduce and cannot often find life among families lonely and painful, she says. Also, childless people can feel left behind when old friends focus on their young families. "They're so busy with their kids and they've got a new bunch of friends they've found through their children."
For nonparents, the key to a rich life is in building a tribe, a family of affinity, Scott tells clients. "That's hard to do when you're living in a suburb surrounded by families and kids."
My experience of living in South Tampa, first in the Harbour Island neighborhood and more recently in Ballast Point, is exactly what I had hoped for: ethnic and racial diversity, easy access to restaurants and entertainment, good city energy but still peaceful, a mix of families, retired folks, and childfree neighbors, and an urban lifestyle that invites me to leave my car in the garage and walk or bike to my destination.

What has your experience been in the neighborhood in which you live? Would you nominate your neighborhood as the best place to live for current your lifestyle?

Photo credit: Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau


KT said...

Fascinating article. Our neighborhood consists of the elders...and then the younger generation with kids. A few doors down just had their first child. Our neighbors (divorced-remarried) have a slew of kids between them, but they are a little older and I enjoy talking to them. I much prefer our empty-nester neighbors...we share more stories about travel, etc.

wanderling said...

I too live in an inner city neighbourhood which is a predominantly male gay area. Lots of bars, clubs, strip-bars, restaurants, design stores. Not many kids but lots of pug dogs and apartment heavy. Definiately not a child friendly locale at all. Children belong in the burbs.

Laura S. Scott said...

Wanderling, I laughed at your observation of the amount of pugs. I love pugs and I have noticed more and more of them on the streets lately.

Middle-aged Diva (Carol) said...

I just found your blog. I just posted on being childless, and coincidentally, lived in Tampa for a dozen years.

Cecilia said...

I just found your blog after finishing your awesome book (which has made me feel a lot less isolated as my husband and I are virtually the only mid 30s people we know anymore who don't have or want kids). Coincidentally, I moved to South Tampa 5 years ago and bought a house in Ballast Point 18 months ago! After getting panic attacks looking at conventionally nice houses in family-friendly neighborhoods, Ballast Point just felt right - eclectic, racially diverse, etc. and more affordable since it is just outside the best school zone!

Laura S. Scott said...

Cecilia, exactly right. I am loving it there!