For decades, young families in New Jersey flocked to the suburbs. But that trend is changing. 

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"The era of expanding suburbs is about to pass," said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.  "It doesn't mean the suburbs are going out of business, but we are seeing a shift that we haven't seen before."

According to a recent Nielson report, 62 percent of millennials prefer to live in areas where they can be close to restaurants, offices and retail stores.  In fact, millennials are currently living in urban areas at a higher rate than previous generations.  Thanks to this trend, growth in U.S. cities is outpacing growth in surrounding areas for the first time in several decades.

Hughes said counties like Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon have essentially stopped growing, and their populations are starting to shrink.

"Many millennials are rejecting a suburban lifestyle. They're rejecting the suburban areas they grew up in. They're rejecting what their baby boom parents preferred," Hughes said.

Towns like Bayonne, Hoboken, Rahway and Jersey City are beginning to see increased economic and construction activity, and Hughes expects the trend to continue for years to come.

"Millennials know what they want, and it's not the quiet house in the suburbs. They prefer edgy environments, walkability, train access, higher density, restaurants and those towns that can provide those amenities may be the winners as we move into the future."