One of the biggest drivers of where people – especially the young – choose to live is sexual opportunity. It’s an enormous part of the draw of college choice, which neighborhoods people decide to live in and which cities are considered “hot.” One of the most obvious historical movements in this regard was the gay migrations to certain neighborhoods in the 70s and 80s. I can remember it myself, as I was a schoolchild in the 80s and my grandparents lived on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, which was the gay capital of the Pacific Northwest until about a decade ago. Broadway, the main street on Capitol Hill, was a meat market that, from the looks of it, was nearly 50% gay. It seemed that nearly the entire gay population of Washington, Idaho, Oregon and western Montana had picked up and moved there. That’s an exaggeration, but the movement was real, and likely did represent a significant proportion of the greater region’s gay population.
With straight people, the picture is more complicated, because accessibility of sex is only part of the picture. Although young men may simply be looking to score, women have expectations for the future. The city is where you meet up, form a relationship and then get on with life. Or that’s how it’s supposed to work.
This model justifies the extra expense, social opportunities and exciting nightlife that cities offer. Young people can strive to impress each other, check out their options, engage in a little conspicuous consumption and generally put some effort into proving themselves worthy mates.
Some time in the early 2000s, developers figured out that they could capitalize on this, and they’ve put enormous effort into turning cities into these “playgrounds” that cater to the young, single and childless set. It worked very well, and those who best documented the results were people like Roissy in DC and Roosh, who described the sexual free-for-all of East Coast cities.
But the problem with this model is that eventually it runs up against a wall; a wall we in the manosphere are all quite familiar with. What has happened is that the Sex and the City set that made cities rock around the year 2004 or so is hitting that wall hard, and as they’ve aged into middle class salaried workers they’ve driven up prices so far that younger, hotter women can’t afford cities any longer. Millennials are fleeing Washington DC, Boston, and other high-cost cities. In Seattle, college students, who comprise a large fraction of the city’s population of young people, have petitioned the mayor to do something about out-of-control rent increases.
If millennials really do bail out of cities, and at this point it doesn’t look as though they’ll have any other option, a major part of the allure of cities will disappear. Middle class families are already gone, so all that will be left is childless professionals, wealthy landlords and immigrant service workers. If cities’ target demographic remains middle America, I don’t see what cities will have to offer young people heading into the next decade. Do post-wall cat ladies, elderly rich folks and ESL types really add all that much to the “vibrancy” and dynamism of a neighborhood?
Developers who have pushed young people out of cities have put themselves in a precarious situation. With one economic fluctuation taking the wind out of the sails of industries that employ that nucleus of well-compensated young people who keep the house of cards from toppling, the entire edifice could come crashing down, leaving urban centers hollowed out just as they were in the 70s and 80s.
I predict that will happen within about five years, when the largest cohort of millennials (born just before 1990) hits 30 and starts thinking seriously about raising kids. At that point, they’ll weigh their options, look at local schools, and most of those who still remain in cities will flee. When that happens, I wouldn’t want to be left with costly rental properties on my hands.