Greener grass

September 6th, 2022

I like the whole Not Just BIkes channel and movement surrounding it. Still, there’s a bit of hyperbole sometimes.

Take this Twitter thread about a nurse who moved away from Toronto because she couldn’t afford to live there. It’s presenting as a uniquely North American problem that solely exists because of missing middle housing.

That’s only part of the story though. The two cities I considered moving to in Europe (Amsterdam and Stockholm) have massive housing crises. There’s plenty of missing middle housing, decent public transportation and great cycling infrastructure. But there’s still a housing crisis with many families priced out of the city.

My hunch is that the real culprit was lowering interests rates to nearly zero and creating policies that turned houses into pensions for the middle and upper classes. This is the common thread between North America, Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

There’s also not an easy solution to this. Slowly raising interest rates and lowering housing prices is going to put a lot of middle class families under water and completely obliterate retirement plans for many.