According to the New York Post, some analysts think we’ll be paying $10 a gallon within 2-3 years. The Freakonomics blog wonders if this’ll encourage people to ride the bus. I’m wondering what effect rising gas prices will have on housing. Will this increase the number of people working from home (and thus needing a home office)? Will people move from rural to urban areas so that they can take advantage of public transit? Will smaller urban areas (like Bloomington) start creating nice, smaller houses and apartments so that more people can live close to town?
Since Maggie and I are on the lookout for a house again, we find ourselves rehashing these questions again. Even if a larger place further out from town is good now, rising gas prices might make it much less attractive. Although equity isn’t our most important qualification when looking at houses, it sure seems like downtown property has much better potential to increase in value over the next few years.
The “country mouse” home (only about two miles away from downtown, so still within biking distance) has enough space around it that we could definitely have a large garden plot, chickens, and maybe even a goat. Even if we had to pay more for trips around town, we might make up for it in savings on food! The cost of fertilizer has tripled, so farmers aren’t growing more corn even though corn prices have doubled in the last year. Part of this is the weird weather we’ve had for the past year, but part of it is also the long-term rising cost of transportation and cultivation. I’m not as interested in raising chickens and goats as Maggie is, but it would be nice to be able to set up a little “office shed.” I could either buy or build a little shed and toss a 165W solar system on top (only $1100 after federal tax rebates) for an awesome work space that feels separate from living space.
On the other hand is the “city mouse” home. Actually a duplex, it’s more expensive and has less land (and less appealing land for farming, since it’s very shady). A duplex makes sense to me as both an investment and as a way of reducing impact since we’re fitting two families into the same space as we would otherwise be fitting one. Although I might be able to get away with an office shed, chickens are probably out of the question. It sure would be nice to be able to wander around downtown and see people whenever I get the urge, though.
The middle-of-the-road option is a smaller place near the duplex that also has a little land. I’m worried that the space will be hard to divide the way we’d like, but 37signals had a timely entry today pointing to a NYT article on making a tiny space work well. You owe it to yourself to at least skim the article even if you don’t watch the slideshow. The highlight is the raised floor they added to one end of the one-room apartment. Not only does it create a separate-seeming living room area, the bed can be pushed underneath the floor when not it use! When we visit the middle-option house again, I’ll have to look at it with an eye towards creating spaces that we can expand and shrink as we change what we’re doing during the day.
This has been a long post without much new info in it, but house stuff has taken over my mind recently, so I’ve been seeing appropriate links everywhere. If you got this far, I’d love to know what aspects of your current living situation you really like and really dislike. Maybe that’ll help make this choice a little easier!