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Overhousing and the suburbs

Posted by Rona Fischman January 11, 2011 02:07 PM

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When I wrote about the choice between cities and suburbs, centerfielder wrote this:

…Without getting into much research on those various schools… I'm glad to hear that some of the surrounding towns are making strides towards a better school system. I hope Boston pays attention and sooner than later decides to do some something about the problems they have with their schools. In the end it benefits everyone directly and indirectly. It is probably for the most part, but not in every case, the advantage to living in the suburbs over the city.

This comment came in at the end of a thread; it needs some air! Are suburbs primarily about the schools? Really?

Don’t people want bigger houses, yard space, privacy, and peace and quiet that they can’t get in the city? Maybe they leave the city and head for the ‘burbs for the schools, but they stay there for the privacy, safety, and relative calm. If the suburbs were all about the schools, wouldn’t everyone move back to the city as soon as high school aged kids set out to college?

It just doesn’t happen. Every year I see houses being sold by sellers over 80, or their children, or both in tandem. Around Boston, there are large numbers of people from “The Greatest Generation” who are still living in the houses where the “Baby Boomers” and “Gen Xers” grew up.

This ties-in another thread that has been half-woven here lately: where is that huge wave of down-sizers that everyone is expecting? If the baby-boomers behave anything like their parents, many are going to stay over-housed well into their 70s and 80s. Is it that New Englanders are slow to change? Is the tough Yankee spirit that we all adopt that keeps us taking care of houses well after retirement?

Suburbanites, what did your parents do with their empty nest? Stay or sell?

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, do you dream of dumping the suburban home and heading back to the city as soon as the ink in dry on the last high school diploma?

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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