Economy changing the face of the neighborhood

07 Jun

It was an oddity, one neighbor had both of their married children and grandchildren living with them under their roof, when their third child married, the tradition continued and she and her husband remained in her parents home and set about starting their family.  The garage was used as the storage shed, one bedroom was turned into a “bunk house” with beds galore for the children and all four families lived together under one roof with their now 18 grandchildren.  For the neighborhood it was and is rough because their driveway and sidewalk looks like a used car dealership.  The Big RV only made things worse as they lost a large chunk of parking space so most of the cars are now parked on the street.

While multi-generational habitation is quite common in many societies, it has never been a common place here in America.  And I will admit, when I have to go across the street to ask them to move their cars so I can access my own driveway, I am not amused.  Worse yet when I am hosting a dinner party I have to go out and rope off parking space so that my guests have a place to park.  Like all things however, eventually you get into the swing of the habits of the neighborhood and learn to live with it.

We live in an upscale neighborhood, so our lots and homes are larger than most, though we are not a wealthy neighborhood with grand mansions, we do enjoy homes of not less than 3,000 square feet and the smallest lot size in our neighborhood is just shy of a 1/2 acre.

When the economy took its turn for the worse, more and more children were moving back in to their parents homes.  Take another neighbor, where first it started out with their oldest married daughter moving back home with her husband and three children.  Her ex-husband lived next door with his new wife so he could continue being a part of their lives.  However, when she moved her family back to her parents, and he lost his home, strangely enough, he moved into his ex-in-laws.  A few months later, their oldest son, who owns a construction company, huge trailers and trucks moved back into his parents home with his wife and five children.  So now you have mom and dad, two married children and all the grand children, plus an ex and his wife and their children living under one roof.  This weekend we assisted their two youngest daughters and families in moving back into mom and dads house.  So now there are six families and all their children living in one home (for a grand total of over 20 people under the roof of a home designed for single-family residence).

We really look as a neighborhood like a car dealership.  The neighborhood was never designed to be a high density neighborhood and while we for the most part enjoy three car garages with RV pads, there are still limited parking spaces when you have the RV and Twelve vehicles belonging to one home.

These two homes are not alone, you drive through many neighborhoods today and you will find the same thing happening.  Because so many people are sharing the house payment and monthly utilities, there is now more money left over for clothing and food, so they do have the ability to spend more money.  For the reports, it looks like the economy is improving because people are spending money again…….but is it really?

While they can spend more money, I do not feel that having four or more families living under the roof of a home designed as a single-family home progress.  I hosted a dinner party this weekend and when guests noticed all the cars parked up and down our street, they started speaking about how the economy has changed their neighborhoods in the same way.

At what point do the governmental reports show the “real face” of our economy.  They keep insisting because people are spending money again that our economy is improving.  Well, on my street alone there are 16 homes.  In these 16 homes there are  72 families living under the roofs of these 16 homes.  How is this progress?   I am glad to say that our children have not been forced to move back home, but sadly this isn’t because they don’t need to, rather we are having to subsidize their living.  Why?  Because in our case I feel that they will not learn to live on their own, no matter what the economy is like if we allow them to move back home.  We feel the greater lesson to be learned is though learning what you need versus what you want.

We taught the children growing up to pay cash for things, if they didn’t have the cash they didn’t really need it.  If they felt they really must have it, they needed to save more cash.  So when our daughter who likes to purchase a new outfit with matching shoes, purse and nail polished asked if she could move back home…..our answer was no.  Why?  Because we feel we are being better parents in teaching her that she doesn’t really need all these material things.  What she really needs is enough to pay her housing, utility bills, and food, she doesn’t really need to remain in a new outfit each and every week.

I am curious to know if the current state of the neighborhoods in our area are the same in other areas……has the economy impacted and changed the face of your neighborhood?

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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Soap Box


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