Where is There Room to Grow in America?

Jed Kolko in The Washington Post: “You might think the most room is out West … But that’s not quite the right way to look at the question. Most of us aren’t aiming to maximize the amount of land we own. We want some space, but space within commuting distance of jobs, stores and schools. Looking only among metropolitan areas, it turns out that the roomiest ones are not in the West. They’re in the South.”

“To see how much room there is, look at the density — measured in households per square mile, of the typical household’s neighborhood in each major metro area in the United States. In other words, in each metro, how crowded is the neighborhood where the typical household lives?

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“In general, metro areas with more people tend to have higher densities. But there are striking exceptions.”

“Atlanta, the ninth largest metro area by population, ranks only 132nd for density. The typical household in Atlanta lives in a neighborhood with just 931 households per square mile — or 1.5 households per acre. This is less than one-fourth the density of the typical household in Los Angeles or Chicago.”

“Other Southern cities have plenty of room, too. Among metro areas with populations of at least two million people, Charlotte, N.C., has the lowest density, followed by Atlanta. Among those with one to two million people, Birmingham, Ala., is the least dense, followed by Nashville and Raleigh, N.C.”

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