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Last week I talked about the choice homebuyers and business owners make when confronted with the urban/suburban dilemma, and how different demographics grapple with this decision. In conclusion, I referenced the “exurban” phenomena.
What’s an exurb?
It’s generally defined as an area where homeowners congregate beyond the confines of what’s traditionally called a suburb. Profound, eh?
Actually, this is a growing trend in Central Pennsylvania with the rise of larger “traditional neighborhood developments” and new home communities that place emphasis on being distant from urban centers. In general, if the residents commute somewhere else as a rule, it’s probably an exurban community.
Exurbanites are generally more affluent, educated and likely into a modern version of what we call “homesteading,” according to experts studying the phenomenon. A good example of an early exurb is the Main Line area to the west of Philly. Some boroughs in Central Pennsylvania have assumed an exurbanite flavor à la Camp Hill across the river from Harrisburg or Lititz in the northern half of Lancaster County. For them at least, the movement away from the suburbs might have sparked revivals with influxes of cash from bolstered property values.
For our area, the exurban movement has been more of a help than a hindrance, on balance in my opinion. I think it’s allowed the major downtowns to find their own identity as urban centers and de-emphasized the post-war suburbs of boxy homes that would otherwise dilute the character of our urban historic streets. In the meantime, it’s given the outlying boroughs the opportunity to likewise redefine themselves as self-contained lifestyles.
Are you an exurban?
Jeff Geoghan is vice president of marketing and communications for Coldwell Banker Select Professionals and Select Services, based in Lancaster City, with 10 offices in eight Central Pennsylvania counties. Jeff lives in East Petersburg where he also serves as mayor. Jeff has been actively involved in local government and business and has been used as a source by local, regional and national publications.