American Dream no more?

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Lately, I’ve been contemplating how things change.

I guess it’s because my oldest child is going off to college in a few months, my middle child will be a senior and my youngest starts high school.

As they say, “the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.”

As with my personal life, we are seeing signs that other Americans are experiencing changes that are affecting their financial decisions.

The terror attacks of Sept.11 changed the way we think; albeit for some, subconsciously.

It was following that event that I determined to start my own business. Something that I had dreamed about for years suddenly became a priority.

That event helped me focus on what was important in life; family, friends, the future, dreams. Undoubtedly, many felt the same way.

Then came the Great Recession that destroyed the housing market, another attack on the American psyche.

Prior to that event, home ownership was part of the American Dream.

All the financial gurus believed in it and our parents did too. But now, as we start to climb out of the worst recession in modern history, we see that dream has completely eroded.

Home ownership is on the decline and rentership is increasing.

American home ownership peaked in 2006 at 69 percent, but has been on a steady decline since.

The weak job market and increased down payment requirements from banks have made it difficult for families to scrape together the needed funds for purchasing.

According to Moody’s Investors Service, by late 2011, it was cheaper to rent than to own in 72 percent of American cities.

Some have been forced into home renting because of financial circumstances, but many are choosing this option for psychological reasons.

Americans are starting to ask some tough questions.

Isn’t renting much more economically efficient?

Would we enjoy the freedom of not being tied down to one location?

Do I want the headaches of owning a home?

Americans are increasingly seeking a living “experience.”

An unfettered enjoyment of life is becoming the American Dream. Time with family is more important. Dreaming of the future is more important. The demands of home ownership no longer contribute to those goals; at least for now. Of course, as we start to see home values move up, Americans may change their attitudes.

But, as for now, the experience and freedom that Americans seek is outweighing the shackles of home ownership.