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Generation Y chooses to shun suburbia

Fluffy white dogs, perfectly manicured lawns, cookie-cutter beige houses. If you’re anything like me, this may sound like your hometown: Suburbia, USA. But before yet another Starbucks or housing division is built, a piece of news 8212; the suburbs may be becoming a thing of the past.

According to an article on Yahoo! Real Estate, a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders found that the housing preferences and lifestyle choices of Generation Y 8212; people born from 1980 through the early 2000s 8212; are dramatically different than that of the generation known as Baby Boomers 8212; i.e., our parents.

First and foremost, the location and logistics of the suburbs are unappealing to the young generation. 88 percent of Gen Yers reported that they wished to live in an urban setting, 13 percent said they carpool to work, while 7 percent walk, according to the article, meaning no more gas guzzlers or dependence on gasoline.

Secondly, “McMansions” are out of the question. The study showed Gen Y strongly desired smaller rooms and didn’t want soaker tubs or long hallways, according to the article. Gen Yers don’t want to have to take three hours to mow their lawn; they just want enough space for a fire pit.

But other than these specific design requirements, the overall lifestyles of Gen Yers are projected to be much different than those of their parents. In general, these young professionals will delay getting married and having children, a lifestyle recently coined as “dawdling,” according to the article. Due to the recession and the rising price of college tuition, they can’t afford huge houses or exorbitant decorating and landscaping.

It could be argued that after Gen Y finally settles down and starts a family, it will recede to the suburbs just like its parents did. It isn’t necessarily true, though 8212; consider which elements of culture have shaped our perceptions of desirable lifestyles.

We, Generation Y, grew up during a time of lavish excess in American history. We are the generation of huge, obnoxious houses sprawled across the outskirts of cities. We are the generation of plastic surgery and reality television. We are the generation of “Supersize Me” and Hummers.

Yet we are also the generation that witnessed the folding of bank after bank and the crumbling of subprime mortgages in the spring of 2008. We watched our parents lose considerable amounts of money when the stock market fell. We sold our big SUVs and opted for small, efficient sedans.

The notion of “family” has differed dramatically since the Baby Boomers’ childhoods. The American adoption rate of foreign children doubled in the 1990s, the divorce rate hovers at 50 percent and nontraditional families are becoming more and more common.

Perhaps even the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 was illustrative of our generation’s desire for something different and something new.

Essentially, within the past few years, American culture has seemingly taken a noticeable turn. Our generation’s desires for housing and lifestyles are reflective of that.

As we saw with the hippie movement in the 1960s, when a new counterculture rises up to fight the “social norm of the day,” there will be yet another counter-counter culture that pushes to hold order. This could indeed be possible with the shifts that Generation Y may bring to America in the coming years.

It will take time to see if Generation Y will truly digress from its parents’ traditional views of home and family. In the end, however, all signs point away from suburbia.

Emily Atteberry is freshman political science and journalism double major from Olathe, Kansas.

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