Curtains for the American Dream?

By   |  June 23, 2008

How attainable is the American Dream for this generation? I have often wondered about this, especially living in Southern California where I have seen the median price of a home skyrocket from around $180K in the mid-1990’s to over $500K today. How realistic is it for young couples to afford a house at that price?

I think we all know the answer to that question: no, but they tried to convince themselves they could. Realtors reassured them, homeowners lured them, and banks wooed them. Gone were the days of actually having excellent credit to qualify for a loan or working hard to save for the down payment: apparently a signature was enough. I was actually told by a co-worker that “nobody put 20% down on a home anymore.” (Of course, that individual made out like a bandit before the housing market tanked.)

We had the opportunity to purchase a condo that almost fit all of the criteria we had for a house, but still, it didn’t feel right. We would have drained our savings for the down payment, there was no garage, and most importantly, no back yard for our dog. After much discussion and a little disappointment, we decided to stay put in our overpriced apartment rather than risk such a venture. A year later, I was asked by others about how much I regretted the decision and I could admit that I never did. This was especially true after we re-visited some time after the development was completed and kids were scrambling for a safe place to play in the over-crammed complex. And now, knowing we will be moving from here in (hopefully) another year or so, our decision seems even better because of so many friends who couldn’t unload their condos.

I want to purchase a home very badly, but it seems for that to happen, we will have to move far away from any urban area. What’s ironic is that having to move to a cheaper outlying area usually ends up being more expensive because of time spent commuting, rising gas prices, and wear-and-tear on vehicles (and of course, the ultimate impact on the environment). What’s a desperate family to do? Sacrifice time in order to keep a job to afford a house that’s probably too much debt to begin with?

It doesn’t seem fair, especially when you see so many people that seem entirely undeserving of all the money that falls into their laps (i.e. movie stars, sports players), yet the educators of our society, the researchers, those that toil to contribute to the well-being of others, well, they will toil and struggle to make ends meet and perhaps one day achieve their dream.

Unless the bank gets there first.

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One Comment on “Curtains for the American Dream?”  (RSS)

  1. I suspect it was a committee decision by the most sycophantic fellow travelers on the editorial board.

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