Monday, October 06, 2008

Other lifestyles, better than home ownership fad

Blame it on Community Reinvestment Act?

Some conservatives will blame this housing bubble/crisis on government policies that pressured banks into loaning money to "marginal people." Folks with poor credit, spotty work history, various cultural and lifestyle issues that make them riskier candidates for "life on the cul-da-sac with 2.1 kids, backyard barbecue and 2 cars in the garage."

There's some truth in that critique. Not everyone is cut out for the so called "American dream" when it has been narrowly defined in that way.

On the other hand, what are the alternatives?

There are plenty of alternatives, but these alternate paths have not gotten enough respect from mainstream thinking.

Remaining in an apartment is one alternative. It can be better, especially if one is single, doesn't have plans to raise a family and wants to be close to urban social life. How about the lifestyle of the so called "swinging single?"

In the same vain, how about a monastic lifestyle? Voluntary simplicity, living with less. Putting much of one's energy into volunteer work, or even meditation, rather than earning a fortune.

It's all valid, but there hasn't been much support in society, both from peer group pressure and government programs for living these alternatives. Home buyers get tax breaks while renters often just live in fear that their rents will go up in times of prosperity, pricing them out of any home.

Family values are often pushed on people. Everything from peer group pressure to eligibility for social services seems to look down on single folks. Also look down on non home owners. Social services will let someone keep equity, if it comes in the form of home ownership, but what if it comes in the form of savings? Spend all your savings before becoming eligible for, say, medical assistance.

To get into the housing ownership market, it often takes two or more incomes. Marriage, or at least being in a stable committed couple is advantageous.

What if one is not suited to be in a couple?

There are a lot of unstable marriages of convenience.

Some marriages work fine, but not everyone is cut out for that lifestyle.

People will often work more than one job, just so they can get into home ownership. They will commute longer distances to afford this as well.


Maybe everyone isn't met to go down that path in life.

Ironically, the average American moves every few years. Maybe we would be better off if more of us embraced nomadic lifestyles.

Living in RVs? Some folks do it.

Living in a small apartment? A commune? A dorm room?

There are lots of alternative lifestyles besides everyone wanting to have that "white picket fence."

When too many people want something, the price goes up.

Government and public thinking needs to embrace more alternatives to the home and it's 2 car garage.

1 comment:

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