I just finished reading an interesting book by Leigh Gallagher titled The End Of The Suburbs. Being a real estate agent in Utah, where almost all we have is suburbs, I was intrigued by the title and had to read it. Though Ms. Gallagher makes several good points regarding demographic trends and individual preferences she was forced in the end to concede that there is in a fact a need for suburbs.
Points of Agreement
The author has a very East-coast-centric perspective and I think that her conclusions are more applicable in the East than they are in the mountain region. Despite her personal perspective there are sever points with which I agree:
- People are moving toward smaller homes. The “Bigger is better” mentality has faded. I even have clients that now set an upper limit on the size of home they will consider (Still only about 1 in 10)
- Buyers want to be closer to services and transportation hubs
- People are more willing to use public transportation
- Poverty is not concentrated in the cities. The suburban poor are a growing population
- Suburbs will evolve to accommodate increasing energy prices
Points of Disagreement
I think some of her conclusions are over wrought and will only apply to areas of significant population decline.
- Suburbs will become “Ghettos” filled with people who are too poor to live in the city
- Suburbs will be bulldozed and returned to native grass or used as farmland
- Builders will move operations to cities and avoid building in suburbs.
- Suburbs are, and will become even more, social and intellectual wastelands
The bottom line is that as a young single woman, the author’s perspective lends itself to a bias towards big city living and away from commuting but even she admits that the suburbs are in general an easier place to raise a family. Hopefully the cities will continue to improve and become home to more full-time residents. I believe that contrary to her conclusions the suburbs will continue to be an important housing option that will continue to evolve to meet the needs of future generations.