Part of the "American Dream" is owning your own home, and yes, I've certainly bought into that notion to some degree. Unfortunately, I live in a part of the US where only 20% of the population can afford to be home owners, so the rest of us rent.
Now we have a worldwide energy crisis looming over us and I think it is only the beginning and the impracticalities of suburbia are quickly becoming apparent. Suburbia, developed around the auto, is not sustainable. Densely populated urban areas, where people own condominiums and flats, where you can walk to public transportation and to shops and restaurants - have all your needs met through walking or biking, is the more practical solution.
I love it that I can walk to the grocery store and to the library and to the park. I'm used to urban living from my time living in Bangkok. I never owned a car there; I used buses, taxis, boats, trains and subways. I'd like to be able to replicate that experience here in the United States. When gas hits $6 or more a gallon we won't be so affected. The Europeans have been living this way for years.
Anyway, several months ago, a midrise condo building was completed in Oakland and it is gorgeous. I mentioned to my mother how I would love living in such a place and her response was that she could not think of anything worse. She's country folk and this kind of urban living is not for everyone - but I am a city girl and I don't think I can ever change. I love it. This building is at the gateway to Chinatown, my favorite place in Oakland. The nearby schools look fine.
Take a look at it and see a presentation of the 8 Orchids at their website - at the beginning of the movie you will see the park with two green slides that I take Aidan to every week when Golf goes to the flea market. Tell me your thoughts about dense urban living and how raising a family in the city compares to suburban influence.