I know I am coming in late on this discussion--I wasn't able to reply to a question of the week because too much time has passed, I guess? Anyway--husband is getting a job transfer to Florida--he is there now and I am joining him next week to do some job hunting. My teens are staying with my parents(who live nearby) while I am there for a few days. There are many reasons why we want to sell our home here and rent there. We are DEFINITELY "moving up" and not down by doing so! :) It is creating a big hardship on us to still be owning a home in this awful housing market. We will still have to pay a large mortgage on this house after we move until we get the place SOLD! Rent in Florida is high, but not as high as our mortgage here. The cost of homeowners insurance is CRAZY in Florida, and the housing prices are severely inflated to reflect that. We will be renting a beautiful apartment/condo--love it very much!! A definite move UP for us, even if it will be a smaller space.
My teens are very excited about living in the middle of EVERYTHING as opposed to living in the middle of nowhere (our house is in the rural suburbs of a big city and we are MILES from everything--it gets tiring having to drive so far to do anything!!) I compared the mileage to places around us in the burbs to the mileage we will be in our apartment in the city: here the airport is 50 miles away, there it is 14--here, the nearest mall is 30 miles away, there it is 4!--here, we are about 15 miles from the nearest grocery store, there we will be practically next door to one! We are VERY excited about cutting down tremendously on our commute time! :)
As for the "American Dream"--I think it has changed TREMENDOUSLY since last century. After WW2, suburbs popped up everywhere and the idea of owning a home and commuting to work became the "ideal." Now, we are MUCH more aware of "urban sprawl" and the idea of everyone owning their own piece of land is really outdated. In many cities, people are tiring of the long commutes in awful traffic just so they can "own a home." "Urban renewal" is becoming the way of life in many big cities--people are choosing to come IN from the burbs and live happy and fulfilled lives in the city--many are in apartments and LOVE it! Cities that are progressing in this manner often are building many things around these shared dwellings--communities are being built with everything in walking distance. Many modern families are realizing that living in the city, sharing spaces with others, and being within steps of many businesses and services IS the NEW "American Dream"--to many people, it beats driving in crazy traffic to live in their own home in the burbs HANDS DOWN! :)
One more thing--I also think many people change their ideas of what is the "Dream Life" over the years as they go through various life stages. For us, we lived in apartments and moved to several cities before having children. Once we had kids, we bought a home--we DID have that idea of raising kids in a neighborhood--at least at the time. Then we had to move again to a new city-- our family had to live separate lives in two separate cities for months while one of us tried to sell our home. Then, owning a home was, quite frankly, "an albatross" that kept us from moving forward in life. We rented in our new hometown for 2 years because we knew we would be moving again. We looked around a bit, but never found what we needed in our price range anyway. Once we finally sold our home, we were SO over home ownership for a while. Then we moved again--we rented an apartment while house-hunting. We decided to build our "dream home"--the house we own now. For several years, we LOVED it here--it WAS a great place for kids and a great place to raise a family. BUT--things change as the family grows and changes. Now, my kids are teenagers. While we liked the elementary school and middle school here, we do NOT like the high school. Now my son is learning to drive--and I do NOT like the roads around here where he is having to learn the rules of the road. People die on the nearby rural highway all of the time--one of our neighbor's lost a son on that awful highway, and now we are all scared to death of it! And my teens HATE being so far away from places like the mall and movie theaters--this is NOT a great place for teenagers! Many things have occurred and we are all ready to move to Florida--we are all looking forward to living life in the city for a while--and we are even excited about apartment living, too! Only problem--trying to sell a house in an overcrowded market is tough! We will have to all go soon, regardless if we have sold the house or not. Yet again, home ownership is holding us back from being able to move forward. If we ever sell this house, I don't think we will want to buy again for a long, long time! There are many headaches involved in home ownership, and I am ready to take a long break from them. Once the kids graduate and move on, we may be moving to yet another city--and then we will decide what we want to do then.
Home ownership really isn't the perfect thing for everyone--so many people got into financial trouble by buying a home in the good market of the past and now are struggling to keep them. Some people "bought into" the idea that owning a home is the right of every American--this was merely a marketing ploy of the mortgage companies that they now regret. Many of those people who were convinced that owning a home was THE ideal way to live are now defaulting on loans and getting foreclosed on--NOT what the mortgage companies had planned on happening! It will be interesting to see how they repackage their marketing now--I don't think we'll be seeing very many of those commercials showing families dreaming of owning their own home. I bet we see many more ads about the advantages of living in apartments in the cities--and I bet we see a LOT more urban renewal happening, too. It is time for a major change in America--we can't keep driving far from work and life to get to our homes in the suburbs. The cost of gas is going to prohibit that for many families. Many contractors are overbuilding these suburban neighborhoods--many of them will NEVER sell! That is NOT the answer for America--we need to think more about coming into the cities together and living together--and we need to build walkable communities within these cities. The American Dream IS changing--we cannot live in the 21st century as if it were 1950! :)
So my family is really looking forward to trading in our OLD dream for a new one--we enjoyed the old way of life for a while, but it is time to move on to a new way of living. It is time for us to give up the suburban house and move to an apartment in the city--and we are DEFINITELY moving up and not down!! OH--BTW--even in our suburban neighborhood, there has been a HUGE turnover--many people move every few years and very few modern families live in the same neighborhood the entire time they are raising kids. America is now a very mobile society, and many neighborhoods reflect that. It is very hard to find kids who have lived in the same house from kindergarten to high school graduation. I know it happens in SOME places, but it is really a rarity in today's world--especially in bigger more metropolitan areas. America IS changing, and change CAN be a good thing! :)