Where Would You Most Like to Live?

If all the people who’d like to live in small towns actually did so, those towns would no longer be small. That’s one conclusion we can draw from a survey conducted for Adweek by Alden & Associates Marketing Research of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Asked to cite the sort of place they’d inhabit if they had their druthers, a plurality of respondents (34.9 percent) opted for the small town. The suburbs ran second (29.5 percent), outpointing the city(23.6 percent) and “the middle of nowhere” (12 percent). The proportion picking suburbia lags behind the number who live there (now a majority of the population). Nonetheless, the respectable showing suggests a yen for the burbs is no longer the domiciliary love that dare not speak its name. Respondents in the 25-34-year-old cohort made the suburbs their top choice (33.6 percent), with the city (27.4 percent) narrowly edging the small town (24.8 percent) for second place. These hardy burbophiles are not cowed, evidently, by pop culture’s habit of depicting suburbia as a tract-house wasteland. As you might guess, the lure of city life was strongest for younger folks: Nearly half of the 18-24s (47.6 percent) said the city is their ideal residence. Small-town life was most attractive to those who’ve lived long enough to get sick of the city or the suburbs (or both). Among the 35-49s,42 percent stated a preference for the small town, as did 38.8 percent of the 50-64s and 45.7 percent of those age 65 and older. Partisans of city life tended to value the “ease of access” to a wealth of activities. Among those choosing the suburbs, about four in 10 cited “city amenities without city negatives.” For those who picked the small town, a sense of community and friendliness was the principal attraction.