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Old 07-15-2008, 11:53 PM
 
7 posts, read 30,550 times
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One thing I didn't notice anyone mention... and it is at the front of my mind.... (see #2 ;P )

People migrating closer to the larger cities is for various reasons, however these 2 I think are the current biggest.

1. Services available. People in today's world, even in a small town in the middle of no where want the same services people get in the larger urban areas, but can't. I.E. Broadband internet access, entertainment options, etc.

Some are better now than just a few years ago. For instance internet is now more available even in rural areas. I moved to Des Moines for several years when i couldn't take dial up anymore (plus closer to work), and I had no options for high speed access. I now live back in my hometown, but can get the same broadband I had there (DM).
Internet is just one example.

2. This is much more relevant today. I also think this will push people closer to urban areas. Gas Prices!!!
I live in Perry, about 35 miles outside Des Moines. The cost of driving to Des Moines for work/play/shopping is getting higher and higher. I can easily see it forcing people to consider moving closer to work, or what have you. I know I'm starting to wonder if I could afford to drive to a job in Des Moines in a couple years (economists are saying to expect $7 - $8 a gallon in just a few years).
Currently I am attending school at DMACC in Ankeny (about the same distance as DM for me). It's costing me about $50 a week just to drive to class.

Things like that are a pretty good motivator to cut your drive distance.

Hydrogen powered Fuel Cell cars can't get here fast enough.....
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Old 07-16-2008, 12:01 AM
 
Location: Des Moines
586 posts, read 2,012,627 times
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Good points, but this gas price craze is a microtrend to the real migration patterns in Iowa and most of rural America. Someday it may accelerate the growth to metro areas, but the growth of the urban/suburban areas in Iowa would be the same story anyway.

I remember people speculating that rural areas would once again start gaining people looking for the rural or small town life because they could telecommute. This hypothesis doesn't seem to be holding much weight. Some of these rural counties really draining are in serious trouble. Nobody is moving in, all the young people are moving out, leaving behind a mostly dying elderly population. Places like Pocahontas County that are draining like a rock might only have a few thousand people left in another decade.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:31 AM
 
204 posts, read 946,356 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMRyan View Post
Some of these rural counties really draining are in serious trouble. Nobody is moving in, all the young people are moving out, leaving behind a mostly dying elderly population. Places like Pocahontas County that are draining like a rock might only have a few thousand people left in another decade.
Some rural counties have already begun sharing services (i.e. county engineers, county jails, etc.) to deal with the shrinking tax base/budget issue. I wouldn't be surprised if some Iowa counties start disappearing as a result of mergers with nearby struggling counties.

One things for sure, small rural school systems will continue their consolidation. Some districts may be comprised of an entire county...or more. It will be a disturbing trend to see, because its continuance means Iowa will be peppered with a large number of ghost towns within 50 years.
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Old 07-16-2008, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,838,999 times
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PerryGeek does bring up some interesting points. It will be interesting to see how these sort of commuter small towns (like Pella, Perry, Adel, Winterset near DSM; Washington, Williamsburg, Swisher/Shueyville near CR/IC) fare under the higher gas prices. Especially considering that, up to this point, they had been among the few thriving and growing small towns left.

On DMRyan's point: Do you remember all the talk of "regional hubs" years ago? The idea (as I remember it) was that as the small, rural farm towns emptied, regional hub cities would take the jobs and retail from the small towns and grow. I wonder what became of that, since many of the "hub cities" (Ottumwa, Ft. Dodge. Mason City, etc.) seem to be as bad or worse off than the small towns.

On mfrerkes point, I don't see Iowa coming to a point of being ten or so urban areas and a wasteland of ghost towns. My thought is that eventually these small towns will plateau at whatever population is necessary to support the land and resources in that area. There will be some consolidation--but you can only consolidate so much before transportation costs (for schools, public services, courts, etc.) begin to negate the savings.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:22 PM
 
204 posts, read 946,356 times
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Originally Posted by SharpHawkeye View Post
On mfrerkes point, I don't see Iowa coming to a point of being ten or so urban areas and a wasteland of ghost towns. My thought is that eventually these small towns will plateau at whatever population is necessary to support the land and resources in that area. There will be some consolidation--but you can only consolidate so much before transportation costs (for schools, public services, courts, etc.) begin to negate the savings.
First of all, I never stated that Iowa would be reduced to ten urban areas and the rest of the state would become a wasteland. However, there will be a large number of towns in rural areas that will see housing vacancies on a scale never imagined. The term "Ghost Town" was more figurative than literal on my part. Simple math says if Town X has a peak population of 500 in Year 1 and then incurs a net loss of 15 residents per year, Town X will be approximately 60% vacant by Year 20.

Undoubtedly, some cities will plateau or may have already done so. Smaller regional cities like Decorah or Algona should have just enough amenities to keep themselves relevant and may not sustain huge losses over the long haul. However, towns under 5,000 residents could have a harder time when it comes to stopping the exodus. Young couples are having fewer chidlren these days, and many young couples are fleeing small-town Iowa for the metropolitan areas. This trend will only be exaccerbated by the dying elderly population which has now become a core demographic of rural cities.
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Old 07-16-2008, 09:39 PM
 
Location: Central Iowa - Ankeny
337 posts, read 1,423,768 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfrerkes View Post
Maybe the Quad Cities can hit 376,500 by the year 2030!!!
I'm surprised to see how slow the Quad Cities are growing as a whole. I always visited family in the Bettendorf area and figured it was doing pretty well with growth. At least it's growth though!
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Old 07-17-2008, 07:29 AM
 
204 posts, read 946,356 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairie Dweller View Post
I'm surprised to see how slow the Quad Cities are growing as a whole. I always visited family in the Bettendorf area and figured it was doing pretty well with growth. At least it's growth though!
Bettendorf and Davenport are growing at a higher rate than the estimates reflect because the Illinois side has posted losses which cut into those numbers. Still, if the Illinois side can't stop the bleeding, the QC as a whole may have a hard time posting any meaningful gains by 2010.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,838,999 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfrerkes View Post
First of all, I never stated that Iowa would be reduced to ten urban areas and the rest of the state would become a wasteland. However, there will be a large number of towns in rural areas that will see housing vacancies on a scale never imagined. The term "Ghost Town" was more figurative than literal on my part. Simple math says if Town X has a peak population of 500 in Year 1 and then incurs a net loss of 15 residents per year, Town X will be approximately 60% vacant by Year 20.

Undoubtedly, some cities will plateau or may have already done so. Smaller regional cities like Decorah or Algona should have just enough amenities to keep themselves relevant and may not sustain huge losses over the long haul. However, towns under 5,000 residents could have a harder time when it comes to stopping the exodus. Young couples are having fewer chidlren these days, and many young couples are fleeing small-town Iowa for the metropolitan areas. This trend will only be exaccerbated by the dying elderly population which has now become a core demographic of rural cities.
When you said 'ghost town', in my mind, I took it as its "dry gulch and tumbleweed" sort of meaning. What you're saying makes a lot of sense, now that I understand it better.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Chicago
3,340 posts, read 8,974,276 times
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I've never heard of a city of over 1,000 people becoming a ghost town before, its usually just towns under that that become ghost towns because a 1,000+ population town usually has enough things to keep people around.
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Old 07-17-2008, 10:13 AM
 
11,288 posts, read 23,474,200 times
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I see Iowa City finally passed up Waterloo in population.
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