This is may happen to a limited degree -- BUT
• I suspect that suburbia will also become more and more like downtown -- recreating itself into neighborhoods and villages.
• The other factor to take into account is that young people grow older and they want space for raising children. That could pull them back to the burbs -- where costs for space are lower and schools are currently better.
• Then there are the questions related to immigration. Where will the new people moving to the US land? Where they can afford to live.
• Another factor -- the trend toward globalization. Many Americans are now working abroad for at least a portion of their careers. This will change how they view home -- or whether they even want to return to suburbia and downtown.
• There is a growing movement toward Americans retiring abroad -- where the cost of living is lower. Maybe we'll stay out here on the islands or go to Australia or Malaysia or Singapore when that time comes.
Panama City has become a major retirement magnet for Americans. I'm seeing ads trying to lure Americans to retire in Dominica -- where English is the primary language. But the whole global English movement also means that more and more people speak English as at least a second language, making communication for Americans a lot easier everywhere.
Will Americans bypass both the burbs and the downtown for abroad?
Link to "The Next Slum" by Chris Leinberger in the Atlantic