Does size matter? Americans weigh in on housing desires

I’ve heard it said, and have often repeated, that one can get used to living in a smaller house (or condo or apartment), but you never get used to a long commute. After decades of continued car-dependent sprawl, maybe we’re all finally cluing in. Or maybe not.

According to the 2011 Community Preference Survey that outlines what Americans look for when deciding where to live:

Six in ten (59%) would choose a smallerhouse and lot if it meant a commute time of 20 minutes or less. Four in ten (39%) would stick with the larger houses even if their commute was 40 minutes or longer

OK, so we’re not exactly all on the same page here.

A couple other interesting factoids from the survey:

1) We want to walk.  More than three quarters of Americans consider having sidewalks and places to  walk one of their top priorities.

2) In fact, 6  in 10 people  said they would sacrifice a bigger house to live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk.  (Probably the same six in ten that would sacrifice space for a shorter commute?)

3)  Even more important than walkability is sense of  neighborhood.  88% of respondents would choose a good neighborhood over a larger home.  What that means I’m sure is up for discussion.

I know these things are true for me personally, but I wonder about the 39% of people who would rather live in a larger home for 40 minutes extra commute. 40 MINUTES!!! That’s a long time to be on the highway, or on the train.  I’m sure it’s a matter of scale, for some.   I’d love some more detail on what those numbers mean for people individually.

Check out the full survey results here.  And let me know what you think.  Does size matter?

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6 thoughts on “Does size matter? Americans weigh in on housing desires

  1. I think the type of commute is really critical – 40 minutes sitting down on a comfortable train with a book or a smartphone or a newspaper can be a nice morning ritual. Forty minutes spent sitting in traffic 10 times per week sounds like its own special circle of hell.

    Given the way America works, it seems likely that most of the people who want more space for more commute are using their cars (since 72% of the US drives to work, its not a great leap of faith). They are the real crazies, in my mind.

  2. ritchiei says:

    Yeah, I guess I can’t really talk with having a 40 minute commute myself. Neighbourhood is definitely more important to me than commute times, even though size of house isnt

  3. mary ritchie says:

    it will be interesting to watch how the two of you commute in the future. we are watching those houses that you admire. And how long will you both remain carless?

  4. As long as possible. I love not having car, and in my neighborhood (which I love living in), its not worth trying to park.

    I know that in the states, being carless can seem like a luxury, because the places where you can do it are so few and far between. But I hope that Ian and I remain at most a 1 car household for the entirety of our lives, and live in vibrant, exciting neighborhoods where that’s easily done.

  5. Erin Chantry says:

    Reblogged this on At the Helm of the Public Realm and commented:
    Check out the Ink and Compass blog for some interesting facts on how Americans’ housing desires have started to shift. However, in my opinion, not fast enough. Can someone tell me who those people are who would extend their daily commute by 40 minutes? But for those 75% who want walkability, 60% who want mixed-uses, and the 88% who crave a sense of community, the design of the physical environment must start meeting their needs.

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