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32: Your dwelling

zillowToday, we’re talking about your dwelling.

Specifically, what does your dream home look like?

Show notes and links:
Best-Laid Plans: LIFE Magazine’s Dream Homes, DIY for the Common Man (Curbed)

America’s homes are bigger than ever (CNN Money)

Back to the land: `Frontier House’ alum Mark Glenn didn’t want it to end (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast (Freakonomics)


Full episode text

I think the online magazine Curbed said it best when they said “If the American Dream is owning a gorgeous home, the American Fantasy would be building it by yourself.”

The whole idea of a “dream home” is, in many ways, steeped so deeply into cultural context that extricating what your dream home looks like from the rest of your history, education, lifestyle, and worldview is practically impossible. Which is, in many ways, what makes this such an interesting topic, I think. After all, between just 1983 and 2013, the average American home grew in square footage from 1,725 to 2,598. In a time of growing homes, there’s also a focus on “tiny homes” and extreme minimalism.

You can also see how much the “dream home” can be changed by experience in the “where are they now” segments after PBS’s “Frontier House” and “Colonial House” series. One participant family in “Frontier House” went on to come back to that tiny cabin where the series was shot, while another family sold their mini-mansion and moved into a very modest home, saying that they appreciated being closer.

And in all of this is the fact that, in the United States, a “dream home” is considered an investment to be passed along — if not to the next generation of your family, to another owner who who will love it hopefully as much as you do.

Yet in other areas of the world, a “dream home” is most definitely disposable. As a recent Freakonomics episode outlined, in Japan, homes are built with the expectation they will be bulldozed in a few years. Our homes are reflections of so many parts of us, that a dream home, in many ways, may be a reflection of our expectations of ourselves and our lives, attainable or not.