The American Dream is Being Squeezed
The pressures on middle-class lifestyle–a long-term trend that has been building over the last few decades—accelerated dramatically during the COVID-pandemic and spiraled further in 2022 as inflation skyrocketed. Record residential real estate prices combined with rapidly increasing interest rates and soaring apartment rents have put the opportunity for American families to “move up” more out of reach than ever before.
As primary markets with elevated costs of living become even more unaffordable, and as recent growth markets like Denver, Nashville, and Austin experience growing pains of their own, a new crop of cities are beginning to emerge for those pursuing a higher quality of life.
Markets like Kansas City, Columbus, and Indianapolis are beginning to drive population growth with affordable housing, good schools, a competitive job market, professional sports, minimal traffic, and strong state universities. While none of these markets can boast oceans, mountains, or beautiful weather, more and more people are willing to move those priorities down their list in favor of the core quality of life attributes that are exceedingly difficult to find in primary markets.
To Put it Into Perspective
According to Forbes, the cost of living in Chicago is 22% higher than Kansas City. In other words, a $90,000 salary in Chicago affords the same lifestyle as a $70,000 salary in Kansas City. When compared to Los Angeles, the contrast is ever more stark: one would have to earn $112,000 to afford a comparable lifestyle.
With the explosive growth of remote work, many of the jobs that previously tied workers to primary markets can now be done from anywhere.
Sure, we would all like to live by a mountain range, or enjoy temperate climates, but these are not mentioned when we talk about the American Dream.
This country became the world power it is because it has offered people a path to prosperity: a good job, a good home, a good education for your kids, a retirement, and enough cash left over to take a vacation every once in awhile.
While there has always been economic diversity across the United States, this American Dream was achievable from coast to coast. With each passing year, the threshold to get there stretches upwards, but it has been raised higher in some parts of the country than others.
Markets like Kansas City are poised for growth, and we are bullish on the potential for businesses, new job opportunities, and a bright future in our hometown.
LANE4 is excited to share this report highlighting some of the exciting growth already occurring—we believe it’s the forefront of the curve.