Neighborhood ethnic diversity and residential choice: how do mixed-ethnicity couples decide where to live?
Ethnically mixed households signify decreasing social distance between ethnic groups, and have potential to transform urban ethnic landscapes. Quantitative research has revealed mixed-ethnicity couples’ distinctive residential geographies, which interrupt established segregation patterns. Mixed-ethnicity couples often concentrate in diverse neighborhoods. Yet few studies have asked these couples to explain the reasons behind their residential decision-making. We respond to this gap, drawing on 48 interviews with mixed-ethnicity couples in Australia. Conventional concerns prevailed in discussions of neighborhood choice: dwelling characteristics, affordability, proximity to workplace and family and accessibility of services. Most expressed affinity for ethnically diverse neighborhoods, but rarely cited this as a primary decision-making factor. Our findings counter assumptions that ethnic differences are front-and-center of mixed-ethnicity families’ everyday decision-making, and highlight their ordinariness. Mixed-ethnicity couples’ seeming lack of focus on neighborhood ethnic composition shows that being surrounded by ethnically similar people is not always a driving force in people’s residential lives.
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University of Wollongong