Saturday, November 26, 2005

Living Too Large In Exurbia whole article

"These days, though, a chill is sweeping through the fast-growing exurbs that have popped up like mushrooms on the outskirts of established cities and suburbs all across America. A lifestyle built on cheap energy costs and low mortgage rates is in jeopardy. Consumers who hardly gave a thought to gassing up when regular was $1.50 a gallon are abandoning their hulking sport-utility vehicles and pickups, signing up for carpools, and leaving the motorboat in the backyard now that prices are stuck at nearly twice that. And with heating bills expected to jump as much as 70% for many this winter, more pain is on the way.

Experience says that most Americans will turn down their home thermostats and break out the fleece. But if super-high energy prices persist for the next few years, as now appears increasingly likely, they will put a world of hurt on the thousands who already were stretching their budgets to live in the outer suburbs and rural fringes. As exurbia struggles with this new hurdle, what has grown into a huge new social and economic force will face its first real challenge.

Love them or hate them, the exurbs are playing an increasingly important role in America's cultural landscape. In the minds of critics, the exurbs tend to attract conservative young families whose communities and lives often revolve around megachurches. Liberals blame the exurbs for reelecting President Bush in 2004. Conservationists blame them for spoiling the landscape with ugly sprawls of look-alike houses and promoting wasteful lifestyles."

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