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Old 06-02-2012, 01:56 PM   #41
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Buried in the OpEd article is this:

The only people I know who are downsizing right now are selling their nicely sized house in an eminently walkable Chicago proper neighborhood to move to a gated community in a fringe neighborhood. Go figure.
Probably because for every person who likes walkable city areas, there are people who clamor peace, quiet and security. Count me in the latter, also.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:53 PM   #42
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Well, I couldn't wait to get out of the suburbs, even though I lived in one of the coolest cities in the US (Austin, TX) and had great amenities nearby. It's just that when you are not working, suburbs seem sterile and empty as all the other residents are working. And big cities have heavy traffic associated with suburbs. I didn't find them to be retirement friendly. When we retired it became very obvious why they are called "bedroom communities".

We are much happier in a 55+ type community next to a huge state park. We aren't urban/downtown types - we need the great big outdoors nearby. We were also much happier traveling as full-time RVers.

Amen! Boy do I agree with this. Since we ESRd with kids it will be a few more years in the bedroom community / college town before we can leave for good. This is what we like but it certainly is not what everybody likes or wants and that is good. It is very good that people in this country want to live in different places!
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:03 PM   #43
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Did this happen before the Death of the Stock Market or the Death of god?
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:06 PM   #44
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I know a couple who lived in a very rural area for years. A large lot, plenty of trees for firewood to heat the house, all sorts of birds and four footed wildlife in the area. After retirement they decided to get a bit closer to the city so they ended up selling their house and lot for a nice pile fo cash, which they used to buy a condo in the city center. Now they walk to the ball park, museums, cafe's, jazz clubs etc. We have our phases of life and it is silly to assume we will stay the same forever.
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:31 PM   #45
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For retirees I think that many like to live outside of the urban center and are able to do so much more happily since they no longer have to commute to work. We recently bought a house that is a little over an hour drive to my office. That would have been a punishing commute when I worked full time. DH is retired now and I go to the office once or twice a week and I can go outside of regular rush hour so I don't mind.

But, if not for that, we would hardly ever have to go into the "big city". Within 15 minutes from our house are grocery stores, a few restaurants, Target, pharmacy, Home Depot. It is true that we don't have things that are closer but 15 minutes is not a big deal. And, if I expand it to 30 minutes away there is very little that we don't have. There are several major hospitals, major shopping mall, many restaurants, etc.

And, there are advantages to being outside of the big city. We have an acre of land and we live in a subdivision where we can have several pets. We have deer that comes into the yard to eat. It is very quiet and beautiful.

Of course, the downside would be if DH or I couldn't drive. In that case, then I could see the appeal of walkable. Although if we were infirm enough not to be able to drive I question if I would be healthy enough to walk to the grocery store and lug them home with me...

I really most like the idea -- if I couldn't drive -- of a city with good public transportation. We vacationed in London last year and I absolutely adore the subway system there. (I've taken the subway in New York and it doesn't really compare.) The thing is that I don't really think there is anywhere in the US with that kind of public transportation.
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Old 06-03-2012, 07:53 AM   #46
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FWIW, this thread wasn't about personal preferences. Nor was it an attempt to tell anyone what to think, that's up to the reader as always.

It was about an early trend indicating people, working and retired, are generally moving closer to urban areas and close in burbs and generally moving away from fringe suburbs and remote areas. It doesn't hinge on the OP article or author, it's been written about a lot in the past few years, the OP mentioned two full books devoted to the trend. No one is claiming we're all moving to Manhattan, many urban areas are already prohibitively expensive, but there are many other alternatives.

If the trend continues, "personal preferences" may change out of necessity. Admittedly it's too soon to know how it will play out and it's not obvious yet, depends largely on how long cheap oil lasts among other factors. It may become obvious in our lifetimes, it may not...
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Old 06-03-2012, 08:20 AM   #47
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Hi Midpack, the article may indeed point out a trend. As Bestwifeever pointed out the article author may be biased because he may have financial interest and he is writing in the NY Times which is not exactly a suburban newspaper.

Just because it has been written about many times and is a trend does not make it correct in a general USA sense. I'm reminded of the growth/shrinkage of a forest meadow which depends on several factors. There are many meadows in the USA with some growing and some shrinking.

I agree should we have a severe oil crisis that lasts several years (for example) then we could see major changes. But the changes might not exactly be in housing as much as in huge, swift changes in transportation choices, use, and design.

Anyway thanks for posting the OP as this is food for thought. Now I'm going to eat breakfast.
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Old 06-03-2012, 08:37 AM   #48
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:46 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
FWIW, this thread wasn't about personal preferences. Nor was it an attempt to tell anyone what to think, that's up to the reader as always.

It was about an early trend indicating people, working and retired, are generally moving closer to urban areas and close in burbs and generally moving away from fringe suburbs and remote areas. It doesn't hinge on the OP article or author, it's been written about a lot in the past few years, the OP mentioned two full books devoted to the trend. No one is claiming we're all moving to Manhattan, many urban areas are already prohibitively expensive, but there are many other alternatives.

If the trend continues, "personal preferences" may change out of necessity. Admittedly it's too soon to know how it will play out and it's not obvious yet, depends largely on how long cheap oil lasts among other factors. It may become obvious in our lifetimes, it may not...
To me, it seems like many who responded to this thread disagree with the conclusions of the article and the "two full books devoted to the trend". That's all. Although somewhere on the big wide world of the internet there are undubitably some other articles and "full books" disputing the trend or reasons implied for such a trend, nobody posted links to them. Instead, most people tend to simply post their own personal observations that differ when discussing an article they don't agree with. Just a fact of life on message boards, I guess.

If all real estate is local, as is often said, then I suppose it is inevitable that choice of home location would respond at least locally and temporarily (if not in a broader sense) to simultaneously rising gas prices and sinking home prices. However, the directions in which these two are changing could easily reverse, possibly (though not necessarily) reversing the trend or rate of change affecting the trend as well.
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:34 AM   #50
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To me, it seems like many who responded to this thread disagree with the conclusions of the article and the "two full books devoted to the trend". That's all. Although somewhere on the big wide world of the internet there are undubitably some other articles and "full books" disputing the trend or reasons implied for such a trend, nobody posted links to them. Instead, most people tend to simply post their own personal observations that differ when discussing an article they don't agree with. Just a fact of life on message boards, I guess.
I do enjoy different POVs, threads would be boring if everyone agreed. It's the replies that state 'your premise is hogwash' without explaining why that are puzzling. What one person's experience (or even their circle of friends) has been, pro or con, isn't an explanation at all. Just attacking a source isn't usually an explanation either, but maybe that's just me.

You really would think I'd have learned by now, hope springs eternal...
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:50 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by W2R

To me, it seems like many who responded to this thread disagree with the conclusions of the article and the "two full books devoted to the trend". That's all. Although somewhere on the big wide world of the internet there are undubitably some other articles and "full books" disputing the trend or reasons implied for such a trend, nobody posted links to them. Instead, most people tend to simply post their own personal observations that differ when discussing an article they don't agree with. Just a fact of life on message boards, I guess.

If all real estate is local, as is often said, then I suppose it is inevitable that choice of home location would respond at least locally and temporarily (if not in a broader sense) to simultaneously rising gas prices and sinking home prices. However, the directions in which these two are changing could easily reverse, possibly (though not necessarily) reversing the trend or rate of change affecting the trend as well.
Your correct W2R. My perspective is based on my area I live in. And in the STL area, it is still following the classic model. The city proper is still losing people, the county surrounding it that had been absorbing the out-flight is now starting to lose people, and the recipients are outlaying areas.

St. Louis was the nation's eighth-largest city with a population of 856,795 in 1950. Now, for a couple of decades, it hasn't even been Missouri's largest city. Kansas City's population grew to 460,000 in the latest census, widening the gap over St. Louis, though the St. Louis metro area remains significantly larger.
Since the mid-20th century, the exodus of St. Louis residents to the suburbs has been startling. And people keep moving farther away from the urban core. St. Louis County lost population in 2010 for the first time, down 1.7 percent to 998,954 in 2010, as residents relocate to communities like St. Charles, O'Fallon, Wentzville and Troy.
"This is a time for an urgent rethinking of how we do everything as a region," Slay said. "If this doesn't jump-start a discussion about the city re-entering the county and how we start thinking more as a region, nothing will."
St. Louis is unique in that it is its own county. St. Louis city and St. Louis County are completely separate entities. Slay said that leads to redundancies of service that are unnecessary.
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Old 06-03-2012, 11:07 AM   #52
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Although somewhere on the big wide world of the internet there are undubitably some other articles and "full books" disputing the trend or reasons implied for such a trend, nobody posted links to them.
Okay.

From a global perspective: Urban Legends: Why Suburbs, Not Dense Cities, are the Future Synopsis: Does not refute that megacities are growing, but does show that this may not be a favorable development and may not represent the druthers of the populace. When they get money, they leave as soon as practical.

U.S.-centric: The Future of Suburbs: Suburbs are the Future. The article mentions the present facts (population growth is occurring primarily in suburbs, not in cities) and that modifications of present suburbs ("smart sprawl") can allow them to adapt to new demands:
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Repeat after me again: “mixed-use.” OK? I’m not talking about New Urbanism or smart growth, which are concepts whose utility and desirability are debatable. I’m talking about the availability, in a suburban setting, to access services and amenities, or what Wally Siembab calls “smart sprawl” – retrofitting suburbs of any density so that residents can shop, obtain services and work all within a mile or two of their home.
Also mentions how long people have been predicting the end of suburbs.

I recently saw a good article about re-use of large shopping malls out in the 'burbs. It turns out they make good locations for businesses that need a lot of cubicle space (and adequate parking). And employees can buy homes closer to work than if the business was in the city center. Mixed-use.
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Old 06-03-2012, 11:12 AM   #53
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Thanks, guys. Also let me try again to respond to Midpack's original post in a way that might be more what he had hoped to read:

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I just read a blog that referred to this NYT Op-Ed from a few months ago. We're in a fringe neighborhood IMO and I'm a little nervous about resale longer term. I believe there's a good chance this trend will continue and plan to buy our next home in a walkable, urban area or equivalent - in or near a large metro area with good prospects.

I've also read two convincing books on the topic, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 and The Great Reset.

Even if we're wrong, hedging in this direction holds little if any downside for us. Time will tell...


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/26/op...gewanted=print
I do not think the article's conclusions necessarily will be reflected in any one particular location, such as your fringe neighborhood. My explanation is that I believe the common notion that all real estate is local. Therefore, I think it would be foolish to let this article influence your decision of whether or not to buy your next home in or near a large metro area.

1. The article could be wrong. Or, it could be right. Who knows? It's not based on the laws of physics and there is always some degree of probability that any article like this could be wrong.

2. Even if it isn't wrong in general, it could be 180 off in any given location. All real estate is local.

3. You are 100% right that even if the article is wrong, there is little downside to you, assuming that you really want to live in an urban walkable neighborhood anyway. The important factor in such a decision, IMO, is knowing exactly what you want and going for it. I think living in an urban walkable neighborhood sounds like fun and wish you the best of luck.
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:33 PM   #54
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I don't see anything wrong with adding a little grain of salt to thought-provoking threads. I do doubt that the typical fringe-living boomer is going to want to sell to go live downtown. I don't think the gentrification that took place in the three city neighborhoods in the article was pushed by retirees.
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:28 PM   #55
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I don't see anything wrong with adding a little grain of salt to thought-provoking threads. I do doubt that the typical fringe-living boomer is going to want to sell to go live downtown. I don't think the gentrification that took place in the three city neighborhoods in the article was pushed by retirees.
I believe that gentrification is always or almost always pushed by young, mostly single people. They are not so fearful, or set in their ways, and are often looking for lively urban type amenities.

That being said, once the neighborhood gets up and running and looks safe, there are plenty middle aged people in the restaurants, though never a majority. If boomers became a large group, younger people would find someplace else to go.

Ha
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Old 06-03-2012, 03:02 PM   #56
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I believe that gentrification is always or almost always pushed by young, mostly single people. They are not so fearful, or set in their ways, and are often looking for lively urban type amenities.
...(snip)...
Probably you are right about single people in the forefront on this. I'd question the "whys" that you mentioned and hope we could put it more positively regarding the middle aged and older crowd.

The young singles are often there because they can live near their jobs and maybe transportation is then cheaper. They need the night life because they're into the mating game -- nothing wrong with that, just a fact of life. These are just my theories and I'll defer to others on this as I've no experience except watching young singles in SF restaurants we occasionally visit -- from our edge of the suburb home. I sometimes wonder how I'd do things if I was young again.
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Old 06-03-2012, 04:08 PM   #57
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I live in a semi urban neighrborhood with older homes but do not see any benefits in housing appreciation. I can walk to restaurants, shopping, and a transit station. I think that our city is just auto oriented and people don't mind driving 30 miles more for a new home in the fringe despite the traffic. I expect that this will change at some point.
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Old 06-03-2012, 04:21 PM   #58
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There are actually two different forces at work that exert conflicting pressures on these "fringe" suburbs: the obvious one is that increased highway congestion and higher gas prices will make them less attractive to commuters and thus are likely to be left in favor of something "closer to work", maybe even close enough to not need to own a car.

But with technology enabling more and more people to work at home -- many people, myself included, need only a telephone, a computer and a broadband internet connection -- it will be easier to live in a place that far enough away from the masses, noise and congestion of the city, but close enough for the occasional trip for the educational, cultural and retail options that can be found in (and close to) the cities.

As recently as 10-15 years ago there was no way I could get paid to do what I do in a town of 3,500 people which is more than an hour away from "the city" and the physical location of all the technical jobs -- unless I wanted to do the 80-minute commute (each way) to our Austin office every day. But now it's a reality and my "commute" is from the bedroom to the kitchen to grab breakfast and coffee, and then to the other bedroom which doubles as my office. As that becomes possible for more people, I don't think they're as likely to want to live in the city, and maybe not even the near suburbs.
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Old 06-03-2012, 04:27 PM   #59
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I think we will stay in our home in our community of 200,000 for a few years. Our mortgage is paid, the medical community is great, and there's lots to do. At some point, we will probably move closer to our daughter's family, depending where they live at the time. We have no desire to live in a larger city and have traffic, etc.
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Old 06-03-2012, 04:38 PM   #60
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I live in what is generally considered to be Seattle's most walkable community, but there are quite a few others very similar. I find your assertion to be doubtful at least with respect to this community, with regard to any of the needs you mention. Within 1/2 mile I have 3 Roman Catholic churches, 2 Greek Orthodox, one synagogue, and 10 or 12 Protestant churches. In this same area are 6 supermarkets or specialty stores like Trader Joe. There are 5 large general hospitals, also maybe half the clinics in Seattle. Although various upzoning propositions are often being discussed, few happen. In a very small area near the most urban part (where the hospitals are) new buildings can be 18 or so storeys, on major arterials 6 max, and on most arterials and certain side streets 3 max. There are also many elegant older SFH, and a few modern, expensive SFH. These as might be expected cost $1mm and well up from there. Lots of newer Town Homes, some with architectural interest, and some ugly. There are trees and attractive landscaping everywhere. There are at least 5 parks in this area, some quite large, and much larger non- urban areas and a nice beach within an easy 1-2.5 mile bus ride. The area mostly appeals to younger people, so there are probably 15 upscale mini-gyms, 10 yoga studios, including some "hot yoga", ~100 restaurants many with sidewalk seating, and another ~100 bars and nightclubs, catering to the finest slice and dice of interests and orientation that I could ever imagine, and never would have imagined before moving here.

There is a major university with ~20,000 students 4 blocks away, and another community college of the same or larger size about 7 blocks. Also within 4 blocks are 4 or 5 private middle schools and high schools so the neighborhood does not seem like an adults only zone.

The most elegant older residential streets have the biggest trees, as they have been in place the longest. But these same areas are hard on walkers or drivers, as the city cannot keep up with the damage the large tree roots do to sidewalks and streets.

There is however only one hardware store, but it is an old fashioned place with well informed clerks. Still, to compare to the suburbs, I can catch a bus 7 blocks away and with no transfers be at Lowe's within 15'.

I can walk to downtown easily enough, but if it is raining or I am in a hurry, I have any of 4 buses within 5 blocks to take to various areas downtown in less than 15' in heaviest traffic, and another bus 7 blocks away to take me to the University District or Ballard, both great walking destinations.

Parking is at a premium as might be expected.

If one can pay much more, he can get almost the same amenities and friendlier street manners. This is fairly urban, and compared to my last neighborhood only 1/2 mile away but much more upscale, this has a colder big city feel on the street.

In summary, everyone has differing needs, but with a moderate budget and some flexibility wrt to renting or downsizing space and parking needs, this is hard to imagine being inadequate for those benighted, confused few who imagine that they might like urban living.

Ha
Sounds great. Seattle is high on my list of want-to-visit cities.
Any idea of "newer townhouse" prices?
Do you have a recommended hotel in the area?
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