I grew up in the suburbs of London. We lived in a traditional semi-detached english home and most activities involved the car. We would drive or take the bus to school. We would drive to shop. We would drive to do sports. We would even drive to the park. We barely knew our neighbours and there was almost no sense of community.
The logic behind this suburban lifestyle was built around the assumption that every family needs space for two cars, a private garden with a shed, 4-5 bedrooms, a kitchen conservatory, a living with the option of an additional dining room. The nuclear family unit was the basis for how we design most of the suburban town houses that exist across the UK.
Families would invest their entire life savings to lock themselves into a lifestyle that involves endless driving and commuting, with oversized homes designed to maximise privacy and minimise any points of community interaction. Everyone lives alone in their rooms. The housework escalates so you hire a cleaner and then a gardener when you get tired of mowing the lawn. The cost of living grows and making money to support this consumption-based lifestyle becomes the priority.
Personally, this model of living in a suburban car-centric nuclear family home feels more like a nightmare than a vision of success that we should be aspiring to. Owning more stuff and space doesn’t give us wealth. True wealth is having the time to do the things we enjoy with the people we love. The lifestyle that society has build for us doesn’t make sense anymore. Surely, there has to be a better way?