Happy Birthday, America!

It’s a great week for America. This is when we celebrate our nation’s independence, and what many consider the real start of summer. It’s time for the most famous (infamous?) hot-dog eating contest, spectacular fireworks, and star spangled banner displays.

It also appears to be an annual prime time among journalists to debate the validity – or as one writer puts it, the “devalue” – of the American Dream. Earlier this week, the Harvard Crimson declared the American Dream is dying, and pondered if it could be saved by Nicki Minaj. Putting the American Dream on life support appears to be rather popular these days, as can be seen here, here, here, and here. In the spirit of staying positive and celebratory on our birthday, we’d like to offer a different perspective.

Through its quarterly Modern Homebuyer Survey, ValueInsured has tracked over 5,000 Americans’ outlook on the American Dream in the past two years. The attitudinal study was in-depth; it captured sentiments from homeowners, homebuyers, renters and people who are living rent free with friends and relatives. The respondent pool spans a wide social-economic range that reflects the latest U.S. Census compositions.

Overall, 7 in 10 Americans (71%) – and 70% Millennials – say keeping the American Dream alive is important to them. 66% of all Americans and 69% of Millennials also say it is important to them that the American Dream stays relevant for their children and for future generations. However, there seems to be a consensus that the American Dream cannot become stagnant, and it must evolve to stay meaningful:

  • 68% of all Americans and 69% of Millennials say the American Dream must change to keep up with changing times.
  • Over 3 in 4 Millennials (76%) say their personal American Dream is different from that of their parents’.
  • Not surprisingly, Millennials seem to value flexibility and mobility. 75% Millennials say their American Dream is to be able to pick up and move wherever they want, whenever they want. 65% say owning a home while staying financially agile defines their personal American Dream.

Owning a home of one’s own – one of the perennial favorite definitions of the American Dream – appears to have staying power despite Millennials’ plea for new definitions to reflect changing times:

  • 76% of all Americans and 76% Millennials still count homeownership as a top definition of their personal American Dream.
  • Interestingly, this desire to own home and the association of homeownership with the American Dream seem to transcend socio-economic borders. 69% of non-homeowners, 71% of Americans with annual pre-tax household income under $50,000, and 74% of Americans without a college education say owning a home is an important part of their personal American Dream, compared to 83% of homeowners, 84% of Americans who earn over $100,000, and 76% of Americans with a college education who say the same.
  • 80% of all urban respondents, 76% of all suburban respondents, and 76% of rural respondents say owning a home is an important part of their personal American Dream.
  • 71% of all renters say owning a home is an important part of their American Dream. Among non-homeowners who live rent-free, 61% say the same.

In this Independence Day week, Americans have the freedom to decide if we want ketchup or mustard on our hotdogs, or if we think a speed-eating contest is entertaining or disturbing. But most seem to agree: owning a piece of this land of the free is a timeless measure of the American Dream.