The National Association of Realtors in the US has a “Community and Transportation Preference Survey” that it conducts usually every two years. Last year (2020), wasn’t supposed to be a survey year, but given the pandemic, they decided to run it in June and see if people’s preferences had changed at all during that time.
Last June feels like eons ago to me and I bet that if you asked people how they were feeling today it may be slightly different. Nonetheless, the survey asked 2,000 adults from the fifty-largest metro areas a bunch of questions about where and how they live and where and how they might want to live in the future.
The topline results can be found over here. But for a bit of context, 58% of respondents were people who lived in a single-family detached house; 26% of respondents were people who lived in a building with two or more apartments and condos; and the rest of the respondents were split across townhouses, rowhouses, mobile homes, trailers, and other. (I’m kind of curious about the 2% who answered with other.)
One of the questions that I thought might be interesting to this audience is this one here about housing preferences going forward:
The question asks the respondents to imagine that they are moving into another home. It then asks about priorities and, more specifically, about their preferred trade-off between amenities and walkability versus a large detached house with a big yard.
Overall the split in preferences has remained close to 50/50 over the last three surveys. But there appears to be a small uptick toward large homes and less amenities. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pandemic contributed to this thinking last summer. But who knows if this will persist. At the same time, actions speak louder than words.
My response to the above question would be less space, greater walkability, and more amenities. I have no desire to live in a low-rise grade-related house, especially one that is disconnected from the city. I like urbanity. What about you?
I’m with you absolutely: greater walkability, more amenities and (not too much) less space as a result (not an apartment in a miserable tower block with an insultingly small balcony and no useful surrounding green space). I wonder how many people who want to live in the middle of nowhere really want to get back to the long commute – which is likely to happen, at least some of the time; working from home full-time isn’t going to be permanent. Or how many want to have to ferry their children to school and every other activity apart from tree-climbing and running around with sticks, valuable as those are. I’ve hoped for the last 30 years that the car would cease to dictate planning and life in general. Public transport is essential and underfunded, and will probably get worse under post-covid continuing austerity (I’m in the UK). And electric cars are just as likely to run a kid over, and still produce 50% of the pollution as the conventional variety and a lot of the noise. The only solution is an optimal density, now called the 15-minute city. As Jane Jacobs would have told you 50 years ago.