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The End of Sprawl?

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Newly released 2011 census estimates spell doom and gloom for the nation's exurbs. In the Chicago area, Kendall County was the nation's fastest growing county from 2000-2010. Its population more than doubled over the decade. But in 2011, it grew just 1%. The pattern repeats across the land. Unnatural and unsustainable from the get-go, exurbs grew as legions of city-dwellers looked to up-size their lives. Older suburbs were crowded and expensive. Also not inconsequential— gas was far cheaper. Years of recessionary thinking have convinced people to question the whole act of relocating. Nationwide, migration is at historic lows as buyers and renters try to protect their investments. Could this spell the beginning of the end for sprawl? Yale University economist Robert J. Shiller gives it to us straight: "Suburban housing prices may not recover in our lifetime," he says. “With the bursting of the bubble, we may be discovering the pleasures of the city and the advantages of renting, investing our money not in a single house but in a diversified portfolio." Still, lots of pieces would need to remain in place for this to continue.[Sun-Times]