The painful collapse of the housing market has soured many people on the benefits of home-ownership, and there's a new cottage industry of financial commentators who actively discourage Americans from buying a house. According to a new survey by, well, Rent.com, 87 percent of U.S. adults no longer think owning a home is "the most essential aspect of their American Dream." (Real estate site Trulia has its own survey, with completely opposite results.) Is renting wisely really the new aspiration for Americans?
Renting fits with the original concept of the American Dream: "The desire of many Americans to own a house won't go away," says Jon Talton in The Seattle Times. But let's not conflate that desire with a housing industry marketing campaign. "The 'American Dream' was once the right to [achieve] economic and social mobility amid political freedom." Well, the only housing option compatible with mobility and freedom is renting.
"Redefining the 'American dream' as housing struggles continue"
Renting isn't such a great deal these days: So many people are "freaked by the housing market" that rents are skyrocketing, says AnnaMaria Andriotis in MarketWatch. Home prices, meanwhile, are still dropping. So while the Obama administration has joined the chorus "actively encouraging people to rent, rather than buy," you can easily spend more on rent than you would on a mortgage. "Suddenly, homeownership doesn't quite sound so bad."
"The new costs of renting"
Renting is no dream — but it is the new reality: Owning a house became "inextricably linked" to the phrase American Dream because with hard work and sacrifice, it was "something that people could attain," says Kim Ode in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That's not true for many folks today, and "fact is, rent may be the best option" for them. But dreams die hard, and it could "take a generation or so to let go of owning a home as the definition of being 'all grown up.'"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- 11 facts yü should know about the umlaut
Subscribe to the Week