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What is the "American dream," and is it nearing its end?


Writing for the website Old House Web, Conrad Neuf asks whether we’re approaching “the end of the American dream.” He talks about significant role home ownership has played in shaping the person he’s become.

I rented before I bought my first house, and I was never happy with that concept; it always felt like I had no roots and was just passing through. I had grown up in an old house that my father was constantly improving, and I wasn’t comfortable living in a rented place I couldn’t work on. The third house I purchased is the old house I have lived in for the past twenty years, and during those twenty years this old house has become a part of who I am. I don’t think I could say that if I had rented all that time.

Conrad then goes on to share articles containing data that shows the rate of home ownership in the United States nearing its lowest point since 1960. Acknowledging that home ownership isn’t for everyone, he laments the decline.

But we’re left to wonder: Is home ownership really a core part of the American dream? Surely some people can be plenty happy, achieving the important goals in their lives, without owning a home. One thing we can certainly agree on, though, is that home ownership, to use Conrad’s words, is about more than “numbers and long-term investments.”

I own a house because I want a place that I can call my own, a place that reflects who I am and contains the history of the old house owners who came before me. I want a place that I can work on in my spare time and turn into my own personal version of the American Dream.  I think it’s sad that many families are never going to experience that feeling.

What are your thoughts on the importance of home ownership? Any thoughts on the decline (or potential future increase) in the rate of home ownership and how it might affect our society?