Despite reports of $10,000/week avocado toast habits ravaging their bank accounts, studies show that Millennials and other young Americans are still managing to buy homes now and then. But the specific homes they’re choosing might not resemble what their parents might have picked—and the new American Dream House might suggest something startling about our future.
At least that’s the premise of a new opinion piece from the New York Times by Candace Jackson, The New American Dream House is One You Never Have to Leave. Jackson argues that today’s homebuyers have become disillusioned with the idea that real estate is a rock-solid investment and that a successful American can safely aspire to trade up and out of their starter home and into a succession of ever-bigger McMansions over the course of their lives. Instead, Millennials and other buyers are demanding homes that they can stay in indefinitely—and for many, that includes granny flats that can house parents as they age to save on retirement home costs, basement apartments that can be rented out for a little AirBnB income, and modular floor plans that are adaptable when economic times get too rough to make a move possible.
Strong Towns staffers Kea and Daniel are both members of that Millennial home buying generation (though they prefer the term “Oregon Trail Generation”; #alwayschoosethebanker). In this episode of Upzoned, they talk about how they chose homes with an eye towards an uncertain economic future, and what they think about Lennar, the nation’s biggest homebuilder, getting into the accessory dwelling unit game. And then they wonder whether the generation that came of age during the financial crisis is uniquely likely to become Strong Towns advocates—and what the continent might look like if they do.
In the Downzone, Kea recommends Pick of the Litter, a new documentary about training service dogs that provides some fascinating insights into what it really takes for visually impaired people to navigate our built environment (and also provides some super cute puppies). And Daniel talks about a book by Mark Kurlansky that traces the history of mankind by following the much longer history of a substance you might not think about often: common table salt.