New Yorkers who find their dream home

The New York Times looks at seven New Yorkers who worked really hard to acquire their dream home:

These people go to remarkable lengths to snag their dream home. They hound real estate agents, besiege landlords, tack notes on doors, drive doormen crazy. They plant their names on waiting lists for hard-to-access buildings. They send beseeching letters to owners, promising to be model tenants. Even if they don’t spend the rest of their days in the home of their dreams — because even the happiest love affairs sometimes wind down or crash entirely — they rarely express regrets.

There’s a reason such obsessions flourish in New York. “In this city, we’re all walkers,” said Andrew Phillips, a Halstead broker who has received his share of “Call me the second the place becomes available” entreaties. “We pass the same building again and again, we walk down the same block, and we think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to live there?’ Being a New Yorker is being slightly voyeuristic. And as we take the same route over and over, our dreams start forming.”

The fact that demand typically outstrips supply compounds the yearning. “The available housing stock is so limited, so fought over,” Mr. Phillips said. “Plus, most people can’t afford exactly what they want. Plus everyone wants what they can’t have.”

Reading these seven stories, I was struck that each of these New Yorkers seem to have a heightened sense of space or rootedness. This means that particular locations or housing units were really important to them and then prompted them to center their lives around their home. The article suggests this could be due to the tight housing market in New York City, simnply supply and demand, but I wonder if there are other cultural factors at work. This behavior sounds like it is in contrast to many Americans – after all, 11.6% mobility over one year is an all-time low. For more mobile Americans, either they have many dream homes or they don’t have the same attachment to places. Both of these attitudes could be related to consumerism which would suggest homes are just another commodity or product. It could also be tied to a more suburban lifestyle where homes are more plentiful and the specific neighborhood might matter less than the features of the home or the idea of living the suburban lifestyle.

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