20 votes

The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo

8 comments

  1. [4]
    bike Link
    I grew up in low density suburbs and now live in a multifamily home in a medium density US suburban neighborhood. The biggest positive surprise when I moved to a multifamily neighborhood is that...

    I grew up in low density suburbs and now live in a multifamily home in a medium density US suburban neighborhood.

    The biggest positive surprise when I moved to a multifamily neighborhood is that mom-and-pop shops can be sustained at this critical density. It is just not economically possible to have local shops in low density suburbs. Instead, you can drive to a strip mall that is filled with chain stores. In my medium density neighborhood, I can walk to do some of my errands and bike to do the rest.

    In fact, I am going right now on foot now to buy some fruit from a local green grocer (I go every few days to keep my fruit/veg supplies abundant and fresh) and drop off library books!

    12 votes
    1. cptcobalt Link Parent
      This sounds like a literal dream. I have a local coffee shop I go to on the weekends that's just over a mile in each direction, but I want more things closer and accessible by foot. I have a...

      In fact, I am going right now on foot now to buy some fruit from a local green grocer (I go every few days to keep my fruit/veg supplies abundant and fresh) and drop off library books!

      This sounds like a literal dream. I have a local coffee shop I go to on the weekends that's just over a mile in each direction, but I want more things closer and accessible by foot. I have a (chain) grocery store in a little shopping plaza that's 1.5 miles away, but it is old and in disrepair, and that's just a bit too far to carry a bundle of groceries, even if you try to stuff a bunch in a backpack. This is probably one of the biggest benefits of medium density I missed in my original comment.

      1 vote
    2. Akir Link Parent
      High density urban environments seem like the best way to build the economy to me largely because of these small businesses. It's also common for these areas to have access to farmer's markets,...

      High density urban environments seem like the best way to build the economy to me largely because of these small businesses. It's also common for these areas to have access to farmer's markets, which provide access to very cheap high quality produce that is quite literally farm-to-table. High density means that public transport is useful again, which means less cars and less pollution. It also encourages walking, which is great for your health.

      Although it's completely anecdotal, I find that high density neighborhoods tend to also foster a better sense of community. While the number of people ignoring everyone else is probably the same as medium density areas, encountering more people leads to more conversations with strangers.

      1 vote
    3. Octofox Link Parent
      That sounds really nice. I wouldn't mind living in higher density housing with a fairly small house but I don't see any way to do that and have a shed I can use as a workshop for hobby...

      That sounds really nice. I wouldn't mind living in higher density housing with a fairly small house but I don't see any way to do that and have a shed I can use as a workshop for hobby metal/woodwork stuff as well as for working on my bikes. I guess it might be possible to convert a bedroom in to a kind of workshop.

      1 vote
  2. [3]
    cptcobalt Link
    This is an interesting opinion piece which addresses an important point, but doesn't quite land the plane for me. I agree immensely with this. As a multi-family home owner (we live in one half of...

    This is an interesting opinion piece which addresses an important point, but doesn't quite land the plane for me.

    What if the next New American Home was a condo? And what if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?

    I agree immensely with this. As a multi-family home owner (we live in one half of a duplex, and rent out the other half), I've had friends and family asking if we're ever planning to going to upsize, but sadly there's just not many options—it seems like most multi-family homes are intentionally built down market for lower economic status. In my community, this means okay access to buses, but dramatically less access to real decent transport, like rail which would get me closer to work faster. (I used to live in a mid-level apartment in a huge complex, which was about two long blocks away from a light rail station, which gave me a total commute of 1 hour + 2 miles of walking, which was very worth it.)

    I don't think I'd ever want to live in a single-family home—it's too wasteful, and if we're being reasonable, we can all stack up and share the earth to optimize for green spaces and less cement. I think higher-end condos (that aren't soaring high-rises) need to target the following:

    • Dramatically more green space. Dramatically more, with parks/etc open to all but maintained by the community.
    • Located near a plethora of public transit. Suitable bus access is a minimum, but access to rail, light rail, etc is a major plus.
    • Multi-family homes don't have to be a miserable experience—optimizing for design patterns such as reducing shared walls (which can also be obtained by unexpected building footprints, rather than just stacking a whole bunch of boring side by side rectangles), better sound insulation/etc along shared walls.
    7 votes
    1. [2]
      Gaywallet Link Parent
      The low quality of most buildings; homes, apartments, condos, and townhouses, is one of my biggest gripes in the US. The main attraction of a single family home to me is the fact that I would be...

      better sound insulation/etc along shared walls

      The low quality of most buildings; homes, apartments, condos, and townhouses, is one of my biggest gripes in the US. The main attraction of a single family home to me is the fact that I would be able to rip out the walls and add additional insulation. This is primarily for sound insulation, but the benefit of course would also be in energetics (warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, less loss of heat/cold from heating/AC).

      In my area, however, it was simply too expensive for me to purchase a home so I ended up with a condo. I love the place, but the noise from neighbors can be quite annoying at times. I even considered hiring a contractor to build up the upstairs neighbors floor to reduce the noise travelling downwards (mainly from footsteps and creaking from poorly secured subfloor)... overtime I have increased my resilience to the noise but it definitely is noticeable at times and has disrupted my ability to sleep. This would not be a problem if the building was built with concrete or simply built with higher quality materials and workmanship.

      4 votes
      1. cptcobalt Link Parent
        Yeah, I don't know if we unintentionally lucked out or anything, but we have about 8 inches of an air gap between our unit and their unit (which we discovered when redoing some electrical wiring...

        Yeah, I don't know if we unintentionally lucked out or anything, but we have about 8 inches of an air gap between our unit and their unit (which we discovered when redoing some electrical wiring in our unit to hide cables for our TV.) I don't know if that's to meet code or not, but boy did we luck out—even with a kid next door, we haven't heard our tenants even once, when we hear the outside way better.

        If only that one positive outweighed all the other negatives from the poor building quality of this place.

        4 votes
  3. mk_ultra_woke Link
    I go back and forth on this. I'm in my 30's and grew up in the rural exurbs of a midsize American city. All I wanted as a teenager was to get out of miles of 5+ acre lots and strip malls and get...

    I go back and forth on this. I'm in my 30's and grew up in the rural exurbs of a midsize American city. All I wanted as a teenager was to get out of miles of 5+ acre lots and strip malls and get to where the action was. I accomplished that in my 20's. Now I live in the rural exurbs of a different American city, mostly because I'm currently priced out of the market closer to work.

    This semi forced return to exurbia has given me a certain appreciation for why people moved out here in the first place. I'm currently renting but am planing to buy/ or build here in the next few months to a year, but where I am now i have a certain amount of elbow room, a shop for my hobbies and the ability to sit on my porch and drink a beer in my drawers without wierd stares from the neighbors. It certainly has its drawbacks, especially in regards to my commute and the distance I h ave to travel for cultural events but like i said it does have some major advantages too.

    I think my dream home would be to have a modest single family home in a pre war section small to midsize city, but until that happens, I'm pretty alright where I am

    1 vote