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For many people out there, the American Dream is to be a homeowner. But a lot has changed in the last decade–the housing market crash, urban sprawl, and even the trend of “tiny homes” have all changed what the “American Dream” means to many. These days it’s not out of the ordinary to see couples leave their white-picket fences, their two-car garages along with all those neighborhood cookouts to settle for something smaller and downtown.
Looking at housing data, single-family homebuilding has been on the decline as people struggle to afford proper housing, nor have the goal of building their own home. At the same time, we’ve seen more apartment buildings being constructed or renovated more frequently. Why exactly is this happening?
The reason the American Dream is shifting so much can be boiled down to a few reasons. First people are already moving to cities. As people are migrating towards cities, populations are growing. In fact, in all but 5 out of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas have net migration be one of their biggest contributors. Some even see moving from small towns towards the city is like a rite of passage for millennials. This sort of tradition naturally can bleed into other generations.
Another reason is that because of these individuals moving towards cities, there’s been a higher demand for urban apartment buildings. Cities have spent millions on getting these structures, and that’s not just for the big cities out there. Small towns or other larger towns have been constructing more apartment buildings. From construction in inner suburbs and even to the outer edges of the cities as well.
Part of that demand and moving stems from younger generations and their own interests. Youth today aren’t concerned about square feet and care more about what’s in the city itself. This sort of attitude can encourage older residents who live in large empty houses and struggle to manage it. Instead, people can find more comfort living in smaller places with people they can chat with.
All that being said, another contributor is the fact people are delaying buying a home out of sheer necessity. From the subprime mortgage market crash, lenders are still hesitant to offer money to certain people. This makes getting a home harder and settling for an apartment may be ideal. This attitude is even further reinforced by the overall uncertainty of landing a job paired up with a massive amount of student debt.
All in all, families are starting to see more merits in being in an apartment over a home. Some of these circumstances may be affecting you right now or they might not. However as cities are working on building more apartment buildings and fewer houses, it’s clear people are seeing more benefits in moving into an apartment and living in the city than owning a home.
Of course to own a home is a sort of ingrained preference at our core, people are still looking at things on a rational level and currently prefer living in an apartment and living the dream there than in a house.