The New American Dream Is Living in a City, Not Owning a House in the Suburbs


In June 2002, several years before the peak of the housing boom, President George W. Bush famously proclaimed that the American Dream is to own a home. At the time, construction workers across the country were gearing up for a wave of residential building, and banks were beginning to dole out millions of shaky mortgages to eager new homeowners. “I do believe in the American Dream,” Bush said at the time. “[And] owning a home is a part of that dream, it just is. Right here in America if you own your own home, you’re realizing the American Dream.”

Twelve years later, that dream has changed. Americans are abandoning their white-picket fences, two-car garages and neighborhood cookouts in favor of a penthouse view downtown and shorter walk to work. The latest housing data shows traditional, single-family suburban home construction is way down: after a walloping all-time high of 1.7 million…

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