The Millennial Generation’s New American Dream

My husband and I recently spent the evening with another couple at their city apartment–and we witnessed, I believe, a new American Dream. Our friends–common law spouses with a newborn son–abide in a three-bedroom unit in an old Chicago brownstone, complete with easy transit access, cozy exposed brick, shared backyard and a large deck. In recent years, housing market trends have made renting an ideal choice for countless young families.

I’m part of the largest generation in our nation’s history: the Millennial generation, a group of 9 billion Americans born between 1982 and 2001. We have been called many things, but no one has accused us of being financially sound.

Things are changing for my generation, though. Saddled with debt and facing a shaky job market, we’ve taken our sweet time to grow up. Those of us who are in our 20s and early 30s are now hitting the age of marriage and babies, and according to housing industry experts, we’re about to shake things up.

A recent report by Hart Research Associates, entitled “How Housing Matters: Americans’ Attitudes Transformed by the Housing Crisis & Changing Lifestyles,” revealed that many Millennials currently embarking on marriage and family-starting believe that renting can be a key component of their personal American Dream. According to the report, 54 percent of Americans believe that “renting has become more appealing.”

There are many reasons young families are choosing to rent rather than own. For my new friends, and for many new parents, economical lifestyles and financial stability are the kind of family values they want to impart to their children. In short: Millennials do not want to buy homes they cannot afford.

Additionally, many members of my generation do not plan to live in the same city throughout the duration of their careers. In order to maintain upward mobility and provide for their families, some young professionals are deciding to hold off on purchasing property until it is a truly sound life choice.

As more 20- and 30-somethings embark on parenthood, the domestic image of a suburban home complete with three cars and a sky-high mortgage is being questioned. If my generation is to make a lasting mark on the country’s housing paradigm, it will be this: We’ve already incurred enough debt. Let’s create a new American Dream–one of true financial stability and a less wasteful mentality.


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