The epidemic housing crisis has divided the American dream into four different versions. Say goodbye to the white picket fence.

A suburban street with traditional houses and pocket fences, city skyscrapers, barnhouses, and camper vans are all colorful.

The epidemic has created four different versions of the American Dream: a suburban, exotic, urban and mobile lifestyle. Everyone really wants a better life. Marianne Ayala / Interior

  • Goodbye, goodbye white packet fence.

  • The distant work and housing crisis divided the post-war American dream into four different versions.

  • Americans are experiencing a better life on their own terms: in the suburbs, on the outskirts, in the cities, or on the go. This is exactly what the American dream was about.


It’s been 13 months, 15 bids, and two signatures, but Ashley Nader still doesn’t own the house.

The 27-year-old product manager began hunting in October 2020 after moving from the Bay Area to his hometown of South Florida during an epidemic. She bounced between the two beaches until her workplace re-classified her as a Florida employee and she began to enjoy the Sunshine State tax benefits, and Encouraged to invest at home.

After the first contract, the seller cast a spell on him. The other forced her out and threatened her escrow funds. “I could write a book on all the horrors of buying a home for the first time,” he told me.

Nader has been searching for the “good life” that many Americans have been searching for since the 1950s, when the United States emerged as an economic superpower and a home, courtyard and white stripe fence as the ideal lifestyle. Emerged

This 20th century fantasy has seen many ups and downs in the 21st century. First, the dream of owning a home fell on millions of people during the Great Depression. And then, after a long and slow economic recovery, the epidemic reunited people from the city and the office, pursuing the dream again, giving workers freedom and flexibility. But the boom has taken the form of a historic housing shortage that has pushed many homeowners out of the market for the first time.

Hoping to increase the difficulty of buying a home, Nader expanded his search from Florida to Colorado, North Carolina, Washington and California. He said he made offers without seeing some of the houses in person. “The market is so competitive.”

Larry Samuel, founder of Age Friendly Consulting and author of “The American Dream: A Cultural History” told me that home ownership was never about the American dream.

“While a large number of people are still convinced that the existence of the so-called white-striped fence will indicate that they have achieved the American dream, many others understand this,” he said. There are other exact interpretations of this concept. ”

59% of healthy Americans still want to own a home, a sign of a long-term vision of a post-World War II vision. But in 2021, it turns out, instead of a lucrative dream of a better life, Americans now have four of them.

Version 1: A special suburb for post-war dreamers

The suburbs became utopia of an epidemic, as spacious rooms for outdoor access and remote work appealed to a lockdown nation. But the number of Americans snatching a piece of their pie has not matched that of a market that has been under construction since the Great Depression. America began to run away from home.

Suburbs became ground zero for bidding wars as competition intensified. Equity and rich millennial boomers emerge victorious with all the cash offers. The losers were often thousands of years old, like Nader, for whom the second housing crisis was the latest in a long line of economic misfortunes.

Nader said she originally wanted to buy a home for less than $ 400,000 ($ 556,844) so ‚Äč‚Äčthat she could pay it off quickly and become “really her property”, but her budget increased to $ 200 due to a lack of starter homes. 000, ($ 278,422). “It’s really a cash buyer’s market,” he said. “If you have cash, you can buy whatever you want right now.”

Suburban houses

Houses have become so expensive that suburbs have become special. George Peters / Getty Images

Alicia Senami, 32, thought she would have more cash to find a home after paying off her student loans. A licensed family therapist has been visiting Northeast Connecticut for the past 14 months. She says the “crazy” market has made her tired and discouraged as a first-time buyer. During the five bids, it added $ 20,000 ($ AU27,842) to its original maximum budget of $ 260,000 ($ 361,949), and even an additional $ 20,000 ($ AU27,842). For some bids.

“Finding a home is like another part-time job,” he told me.

Suburbs are now more accessible to the wealthy, making them less accessible to 68% of millennials whose eyes are on home ownership. He has made the second version of the house with a pocket fence, somewhere far outside or inside.

Version 2: Finding affordable housing in the outlying areas

Cinami Woodstock is hoping to buy its starter home in Connecticut, a relatively rural town that offers privacy, good schools and safety. This is a good example of rural entertainment that some people have embraced because of the remote work, a trend that includes “X-rays”, a rural community capable of moving remotely to a large city. Is.

Geoffreys analysts, citing USPS mail forwarding data, said in an August note that the migration of Americans from urban areas marked the largest population change in the epidemic. Between May and June, 40,000 Americans traveled to cities and suburbs for tourism. While the epidemic population changes are slowing, in those months there were only outlying and rural areas to include households.

Urban expert Richard Florida told me that rural areas have seen “real, new growth” as epidemics have opened up rural areas that extend from existing metros such as Hudson to New York City. Driving the trend is what Florida has long called the creative class.

House Catskills New York Upstate

Some Americans are looking for more rural pastures. Getty Images / Kevin Images

As he explains, this group of young academic workers once sought the “real authentic, civic experience” in the big cities, but as the big boxes and chain stores moved, many of these experiences Disappeared Now, they are looking for this authenticity in the countryside. It has become the culmination of a new kind of American dream.

“The new pocket fence is a farm,” Florida said.

Ali Wolff, chief economist at home building proptech company Zonda, told Insider that builders must focus on these areas to address housing shortages. “Move to more suburbs, or start more construction in those parts of the country where there is more developing land,” he said. As homes are built away from the city center, he added, facilities will likely improve, creating new gathering places and hotspots.

Version 3: Restoring cities as connection points, not work.

For all the migration to the suburbs and outlying areas, cities are not dead.

Bank of America Research says the story of urban emigration is more mythical than real, and a Zello report states that of the displaced people, 19% relocated to their metro area, and about 40% the same. Stayed in the city but the neighborhoods changed. Consider NYC, where USPS data show that between March 2020 and February 2021, more Manhattanites moved to Brooklyn than anywhere else.

In fact, rents are skyrocketing and 60% of the rich plan to buy a home in a big city within the next millennium.

As eminent economist Enrico Morty recently told Bloomberg, the remote work gave citizens the freedom to live in the part of the metro where they would like to live while enjoying city life. So really, when we zoom out to consider the whole metro area, these developing urban cities just got bigger.

New York City

People who live in cities live there because they want to, not for work. Alexei Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Florida explained that what the epidemic did was accelerate pre-epidemic attitudes and promote population divisions among citizens: young families moved to the ‘Barbs’ because the city was less attractive to them. The star-eyed young professionals returned as soon as possible. Continuing the trend that started in the 2010s. In addition, some pre-pandemic homeowners who have benefited from the housing boom may now be able to afford to trade in their small town to live in the city.

This means that many city dwellers are living there today because they Want For, not because they Need For work, it has ushered in a new era for cities, which is no longer around an office but on personal interactions that facilitate unconventional and creative abilities.

“I think we’ve got cities as containers for people to work with,” Florida said. “It’s not what cities are. Cities are communication machines with new generations of contacts and meeting places.

Version 4: Walking Lifestyle

After all, not everyone wants to live. Alternative lifestyles that have grown over the past decade, such as #vanlife and digital gypsies, have been on the rise during epidemics.

Small home sales increase in 2020 According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, in 2018, 53% of Americans said they would consider living in one. By the end of 2020, 56% of Americans said the same thing in a survey conducted by financial company IPX 1031.

More Americans decided to try life on the street. Manufacturers of camper vans, RVs, and travel trailers are updating existing buildings or making new floor plans to accommodate the growing market. Van sales for Mercedes-Benz US increased by 22.5% in 2020, with the brand’s overall sales declining by 8.9%.

Small house

Alternative life increased during the epidemic. Photo Alliance / Getty

Parag Khanna, an expert on globalization and author of “Move: The Forces Approaching S”, said he has seen the rapid movement of young people during long distance work. “The pocket fence is, ‘Hey, look at me, when I’m in Seattle,’ and ‘Look at where I’m in Boise,’ or ‘I’ve got my little house, and now I’m in Tahoe.’ ” he said.

Populations promoting these trends sit at two different ends of the spectrum. Some buyers are digital gypsies, with more mobile lifestyle and desire. This growing movement has long been moving from one place to another, giving rise to “workplaces”, in which people travel to some remote parts of the world and turn Airbnbs into office space. Do

For others, the initial cost of a van or a small house is a much cheaper alternative to the housing crisis. “Even before the current housing crisis, many have been ignoring thousands of years of debt-based home ownership in order to advance a more current focused, mobile lifestyle,” said Samuel, a generation consultant. “Given the cost of buying a home, this lifestyle has gained even more cultural currency, further eroding the post-war version of the American dream.”

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