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Are the suburbs outdated?   The Serious You: How Current Events Affect You

Started 7/1/20 by Showtalk; 3071 views.

I think that many suburbs will naturally change, so government intervention really would just mis-allocate resources. The Covid-19 pandemic has already caused a lot of people to flee densely populated areas. High density housing and housing projects are so 20th century nowadays. It's the kind of disease exchange Petri dish that we really don't need.

However, I could easily see many of these areas, once the demand collapse of over-priced single family houses runs its course, become transformed into things like manufactured housing communities - which still handles a lot of people but maintains some elbow room.

Also in today's new normal, the most important thing will be fast internet build-out away from the city cores. Many people can earn a living from home these days, as the virus lockdowns have underscored, except of course for those grunt jobs that require constant close contact with others, where the pandemic continues to spread.

But my experience with government mandates is they usually assume everything is static, and then turns into an entrenched bureaucracy that mostly is highly inefficient, wastes a lot of resources, and causes people to have to contort their lives in all sorts of weird ways that further waste their own resources just in compliance burdens.

Jeri (azpaints) said:

They were designed to give a small town atmosphere and give home buyers local entertainment and eateries.

and these kind of developments can eliminate a LOT of awful traffic and killer commutes, if jobs are near where people live.


From: Showtalk 


Some years ago inner cities were gentrified and people ended up moving in from the suburbs. It was a huge experiment. I never followed the outcome.

Gentrification drove a lot of the poor out of the middle cities, and often put out families who had lived in some neighborhoods for generations. It was awful in most cases.

We saw something like this during the oil boom but it was too short lived to fully run its course, and a lot of the gentrification crowd lost their butt when the boom went bust. Hopefully there will be a lot of formerly gentrified places on the auction block that go for a tiny fraction of what they'd speculate the market to, and normal ordinary people can move back in. And the fools trying to "keep up with the Joneses" learn a bitter lesson in Economics 101.

Gentrification often produces a bubble that sooner or later bursts, but like lemmings they continue to bid up prices well beyond what is sustainable and market forces eventually "correct" the situation.

Unfortunately a long debris trail of shattered lives tends to be left in the path while these things finally run their course.


From: Showtalk 


The idea in the city I read about was to take unused commercial properties in the heart of the city and turn them into condos.  I knew about it because a friend’s in-laws bought in the senior building when they were in their 50s.  Gradually more people moved into the commercial district.  It brough money and stores to the area which benefited everyone.  I lost track of the parents after a while.

The big if, is if it brings jobs that make such locations affordable. The coronavirus has likely flipped all of these business and economic models on their head, as if one can live, say 100 miles from a city center, go out in the mornings, feed the cats and the goats and chickens and dogs, go collect some eggs for breakfast sit down at the computer and start designing stuff, what point is there to live in a upscale, overpriced, downtown condo or apartment and write enormous checks for rent or mortgage while packed cheek by jowl with neighbors, any of who might have brought home virus from their office cubicles.

And if one is running a business, why pay top real estate prices for all that office space if most of it can be taken care of with a server farm 20 miles away where traffic isn't dense and parking isn't a huge premium. The price of a 150 foot microwave tower to bring high speed internet out is a lot cheaper than that building and parking hassle and all those extra offices, an your employees aren't sleep deprived and stressed out and wearing out cars and spending a good fraction of their income on gas..

Of course this isn't a new trend, just coronavirus really stomped on the gas pedal to accelerate trends that have been going on for a couple of decades. If the cities are now "radioactive" to live in, then why concentrate everything there when there are lower cost and lower stress ways to do so?

This of course means that truckers and warehousing and stores and such have to be more spread out as well. But many technological outfits had been moving their factories out into rural areas because land was cheaper and it pumped a lot into these towns.

The down side is, sleepy little towns end up getting the kind of traffic that overwhelms their former attractiveness if a lot of people have to be at these places. This is the dark side - some rural areas are very hard hit where there are facilities like meat processing plants where social distancing is not possible.

Finding the sweet spot will likely challenge the most brilliant urban and suburban planning minds, but the future likely belongs to decentralization. Now to solve the problem of so much wealth concentrated in the hands of so few that it squeezes all the mom and pop outfits out of business and herds their former workers into the stifling megacorp culture. We've got to solve that problem or rising inequalities of opportunity (as well as of condition) reaches the kind of flashpoint that ultimately got us things like the USSR, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba, among other "workers' paradises" that certainly did get equality - equal poverty and fear except among those elites running the government.


From: Showtalk 


Job location will be important.

and not only job location but a good fit between housing and other living costs versus pay scales. Otherwise there are horrible mis-matches where the service industry personnel can not afford to live anywhere near the job locations.

During the height of the oil boom, people were commuting from as far away as Ft Stockton, Sheffield, and even Balmorhea and Alpine to jobs in Odessa and Midland. There were others commuting from Lamesa, from O'Donnell, from Tahoka, and even Lubbock, from Brownfield, Wellman, etc. to Odessa-Midland. Some of these were more than 150 miles each way, because there was not affordable housing here.


From: Showtalk 


That is already happening.  This is a British article so the numbers are in metrics and apartments are called flats.

Still waiting for the page to load - but Silicon Valley cost of living is well beyond my pay grade.