I was reading the other morning about the rise in my generation with renting houses / apartments and having no desire to own them. I fall under this demographic, and I tweeted that the reason I’d buy my own anything is so I can design / customize it to my liking.
My car, whatever I end up getting in spring, will be ridiculous. I want to vinyl wrap it and buy ridiculously bright coloured rims. I want it to be silly and unique and fun. I want to smile to myself whenever I walk up to it. That ability is one of the few advantages to buying your own car. I’m not sure what the numbers are for Uber and the Car2Go system, but I’m willing to bet owning a car is more expensive. That ability is a luxery that I’m willing to pay for. That and Car2Go doesn’t yet include my work or grocery store’s areas in it’s zone which means I couldn’t use it anyway. But I would, if I could. I think it’s brilliant, as do everyone that I’ve talked to about it.
We are a generation, as it’s been pointed out, that doesn’t really value owning things for the sake of owning them. I own a car so that I can be assured that there will be one waiting for me when I wake up in the morning, but with the abundance of C2G cars you’ve solved the same problem. Now, I happen to live right at the fringe of the okay zone, so they’re less common on my street vs. say, downtown core (where the whole walk up and go thing really is that easy) so I’d probably have to walk a few blocks in search of one in the morning. Not really ideal in the dark Canadian winters, stressing about finding one before work and freezing to death. So, it’s practical for me to own a car but I don’t see the ownership as a pride thing in itself.
Okay, so we have a problem and a solution for transportation. In fact, adding taxis and buses and trains, it’s pretty well covered. What about living.
I rent and love it. I honestly don’t understand why you’d buy a house other than equity, which is a fancy word for not being able to move ever. I don’t mow the lawn or shovel my walks or worry about re-shingling my roof when it hails. I don’t worry about property taxes or a half of the kinds of bills home owners would. I’m not sure what the mortgage comparison would be, but I can’t imagine I’m paying more in rent than they are in paying down and I can trade up or down with relative ease as personal finances demand. It’s simply flexible. So it’s funny for my friends and I – a collection of mostly designers, science nerds and architects – when we read articles like this one, we see it as “Uh, yeah. Obviously.” Our generation simply doesn’t see the big deal in it. These are the ideas we see in the movies made in the 80′s, before we were born. Even then, those ideas were being recycled and upscaled from the older mid century “American Dream” mentality. That was 30-60 years ago, we just can’t relate anymore.
If predictions can be made, and this is mixed with personal hopes and dreams, I would say that we’ll see a rise in prefabricated and highly customizable houses that are more efficient in both space and energy and are subsidized somehow. We don’t want to own them. Our lives are messy and varied. We can be living in a bachelor pad and then move up when married and maybe kids and maybe back down when they move out and all of this can take place in a transforming, flexible environment. Gone should be the days of paying a large chunk of your life’s wages into a mortgage for a house that, by the time you pay it off, is too large for you after your kids leave. Divorce rate is hovering around 50%; I don’t condone it, but that’s a lot of shuffle for families and the architecture as it stands simply isn’t suited for it.
TL;DR all of the problems that we’ve solved around us: transportation to food to housing is moving from being a static good to a flexible service and we’re the generation pushing it how we want.
Unrelated: Happy 12/12/12, which is 12/12/12 for you Americans with the silly backwards date system.