Right now, we Americans may be hunkered down and feeling uncertain about the near future, but we’re still Americans. We haven’t lost, even for a moment, our clear vision of the good life – translation: the American dream.
So says a Pew Research Center report just completed that examines where we want to live and what sort of lifestyle we would like to have. It debunks the prognosticators who say, because of the current economic crisis, Americans will repent from over-consumption, move back to the city from the sprawling suburbs and scale down everything from their refrigerators to their cars. Not likely!
The Pew report found that Americans still see themselves moving outward. City dwellers are the least happy with where they live. Only 52 percent of city folk rate their communities “excellent” or “very good,” compared to 68 percent of suburbanites and 71 percent of people living in rural areas. Interestingly, 45 percent of the people surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34 would like to live in New York City. But cities register strongly unattractive to people with families as well as those above age 35.
For example, only 14 percent of Americans 35 and up think living in New York would be desirable. The same applies to those pushing age 65 — only 8 percent of those said living in Los Angeles would be attractive.
The old “go west, young man” still has a strong pull, however. Respondents to the Pew researchers clearly signaled the once most-desirable cities of New York, Chicago and L.A. have now been replaced by San Diego, Denver, Orlando, Tampa and Seattle. (Others in the top 10 included Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Francisco and Sacramento.)
When I stop and reflect on these new “most-desirable” metropolitan areas, I get an image of places where people visualize the promise of good living and an active lifestyle in the great outdoors. That leads me to picture driveways and garages filled with boats, water skis, PWC’s and kayaks among other outdoor recreational equipment. Why, what I’m seeing is the America dream — the good life we have always expected in this country.
Obviously, everyone isn’t going to be moving to those new “most-desirable” cities. That’s not the point, of course. In fact, it seems safe to assume most people will stay right where they are due to career, family and other considerations. But, what I particularly like from the research is documentation that the current economic situation hasn’t caused the American dream to be altered. It says to me nothing has changed our basic belief, vision or expectation that we can and will have it all no matter where we live.
When NMMA President Thom Dammrich said in his State of the Industry report in Miami last week, “Boating is not going away,” he was right. I take from the Pew report that for all those who specifically hold the boating dream, this bad economy is only a temporary postponement of the inevitable – the realization of that dream!