The dream of middle-class life--a single-family home where parents can raise a couple children and maybe even scrape by on one income--is slipping over the horizon as the real estate boom (bubble?) has created another landed aristocracy. As Salam notes:
. . . those lucky enough to have been in the right time and at the right place have become a new landed aristocracy, enjoying a vast increase in unearned wealth. Meanwhile, the cost of living has become prohibitively high for young families. One might call this "the closing of the crabgrass frontier," a historical development of epochal significance. The more enterprising and ambitious are moving to low-cost metropolitan areas and small towns, where the cycle begins anew.
This migration, in turn, has vastly diminished our quality of life by turning the commute into a process which can now easily absorb a sixth of our working days. Don't believe me? In Washington, it's now not uncommon to meet people who commute to town every day from Fredericksburg. But up until a few years ago, Fredericksburg was thought of as a suburb of Richmond, not Washington.
And in a few more years, I suspect that Richmond itself will become a D.C. suburb. If what has happened in Washington, New York, Boston, San Francisco--even in Las Vegas--keeps spreading, then Americans will either have to stop having families and become a nation of DINKs, or radically reduce the standards of what we assumed was a comfortable middle-class situation commensurate with child-rearing.
Stop the ride, I want to get off.