writer Leigh Gallagher published her book, The
End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving, last year, it
struck a chord (a nerve?) with so many across the country. Her position, which
is that the Millennials’ American Dream is vastly different than the American
Dream of generations prior, is something I’ve been thinking about lately,
especially how it applies to Nashville and our suburbs.
Gallagher says the
shifting American Dream signals the end of the suburbs as we know them. She writes, “The government in the past created one American
Dream at the expense of almost all others: the dream of a house, a lawn, a
picket fence, two children, and a car. But there is no single American Dream
So what now?
Now we’re seeing the
introduction of the “urban burb,” of which I think Franklin, Tennessee, is the
perfect example. With its walkable downtown and access to mass transit,
Franklin checks so many of the modern homeowner’s must-have boxes.
The urban burb comes
in response to, according to Gallagher, our desire to get out of our cars (yucky
commutes) and into cities, which are experiencing a renaissance with young
families. Also? The nuclear family is far less cookie-cutter these days.
Instead, marriage and birth rates are declining, and the number of
single-person households are rising. In other words, the whole reason so many
people wanted to get into the suburbs in the first place—the stellar school
zones and family-friendly lifestyle—suddenly don't seem so necessary any more.
Franklin, in my opinion, is the ultimate—and perhaps one of
the most idyllic--urban burbs. It’s not one of those that popped up overnight.
It’s not a collection of McMansions. Founded in 1799, it’s a town with a story
to tell. There are plenty of historic houses with character to spare. It’s a
suburb that’s adapting into an urban burb with lots of grace.
As for Franklin fitting Gallagher’s description of what
today’s Millenial wants, it’s close enough to Nashville (14 miles away) that
the commute isn’t dreadful. It’s not the type of place where homeowners feel
smothered. And the nuclear family isn’t the only family welcome there.
Gallagher says the American Dream is now plural. “They will
be dreams. They won't be houses. They won't be buildings. Somewhere
along the way the American Dream morphed from being a dream, an opportunity, to
being a house. That's no longer the case for a lot of people.”
Author:TJ Anderson Phone: 615-364-1530 Dated: April 8th 2014 Views: 2,962 About TJ: TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a h...
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