I am heading into my third weekend in a row on a mission to find the best possible available house that meets a number of our requirements. Needless to say, it has been fun, but also stressful and time-consuming. Good things are happening, though, good things!
This whole house-hunting process got me thinking about how different this generation of young (20 and 30s) people are from our parents’ and even grandparents.’ When my mom was born, her parents lived in a small duplex just outside of Pittsburgh with no yard, but her aunt and uncle living in the house above them. By the time they had more children, her family had moved to a bigger home with a big grass yard in a suburb. Her mom’s sister’s family moved soon after them to a place right up the street from them.
By the time my parents got married, they moved to a suburb even further outside of Pittsburgh with a big yard and a good school district. My parents still live in that same house. While I was in high school, my friends all lived in bigger houses on the other side of town, which had, until recently, been farmland. It wasn’t really until I got to college until I realized how sheltered my suburban life had been. I barely knew how to cross a city street (because we drove everywhere) and I really began to understood how non-diverse (culturally, racially, economically, etc) my upbringing was. As soon as I got the chance I spent 2 summers interning in Washington DC and living an urban life. Then, as soon as I graduated, I hopped on a plane to do the Peace Corps. I needed to get out of Pennsylvania.
Now that I have the chance to buy a house (and someday start a family), I want nothing like a suburban home. Urban redevelopment efforts have made city-living so much more appealing than when my parents did this. Houses in the city (Denver, specifically) have character, are close to public transportation or greenways where you can easily hop on a bike and commute to work, are within walking distance of stores and shops and parks, and are, in general, in vibrant, upcoming neighborhoods with other young couples and families. Farmer’s markets are readily available and accessible. Plus, views of the mountains are abundant.
Of course, I am adamant about is that there is enough yard space for a small garden and dogs to play. The yards do nothing to compare to the yard of the house where I grew up, but most are close to parks and areas to play. Also, most of the schools are not as highly ranked as suburban ones (not even close), but Denver does have open enrollment and quite a few good charter and alternative public schools.
Denver is a good city with plenty of green spaces and young families, but it is not unique. Urban redevelopment and revitalizing old neighborhoods for young people is something happening across the country.
Who knows how long this trend will last? And who knows if families will indeed move to the suburbs once their kids are school-age and need better schools and more space? But for now, the attraction is there as well as the real estate and activities to entice young couples. Interesting how things change and I am looking at moving to a place very similar to the neighborhood where my mom was born.