How many Americans live in an urban, suburban, or rural area? There are two ways to answer that question—analyze Census Bureau data using government definitions, or simply ask people to describe where they live. Zillow asked, with these results...
How Americans describe where they live
Even in the most urban areas—the principal cities of metropolitan areas—only 47 percent of respondents describe their area as urban, 46 percent say suburban, and 7 percent say rural. "That means close to half of people who live within city limits describe where they live as suburban," says Zillow's chief economist Jed Kolko.
By matching its survey results to the zip code demographics of respondents, Zillow shows how population density determines the feel of an area. Those who live in zip codes with more than 2,213 households per square mile tend to describe their area as urban. With 102 to 2,213 households per square mile, residents tend to describe their area as suburban. If there are fewer than 102 households per square mile, residents tend to describe their area as rural.
Kolko measures the size of "urban" and "suburban" populations in the nation's large cities based on Zillow's density definitions. Many of the cities now growing the fastest, he finds, are more "suburban" than "urban."
Source: FiveThirtyEight, How Suburban Are Big American Cities?