Several years ago, just before the Pandemic, wildfires were ravaging areas of California. Thousands of acres and hundreds of homes were destroyed. My sister-in-law, Anne, and her daughter’s family live in a small town in the Ojai Valley, near Santa Barbara. They watched for months as fire and smoke came closer and closer until the day came when they were told they had to evacuate.
They had only hours to gather their most prized possessions, load their cars, find a place to stay and leave their homes, not knowing if or when they could return; not knowing what they would be returning to. Many of their friends in nearby towns lost their dream homes to those fires. My family was lucky. Ojai was spared due to the herculean efforts of the local fire department, but the experience was unimaginably frightening. One day you’re safe in your home. The next day it could be gone!
Fast forward a year later to a new national disaster — COVID-19. We watched as this life-threatening virus ravaged not only our country, but the entire world. Finally, the day came when we were asked, not to evacuate, but instead to isolate. We were asked to make our homes our entire world. We didn’t know how long that would last or what the world would look like once we emerged.
During these past two years, the American Dream has taken on new meanings and importance. Home has become our safe haven, our workplace, our schoolroom, our restaurant, our center for information and, for many, our confinement. Parents with college students had their children returned home. Parents with public school age children repurposed rooms into classrooms, and many people were forced to work from home. Desks became as scarce as toilet paper. We were all on top of each other with no place to go. This was togetherness, like it or not.
We know that real estate was booming during the Pandemic, but home searches took on a whole new look. It turned out that working from home could be attractive and profitable. Instead of the open style that has been so popular for many years, buyers began looking for homes with more defined spaces and extra rooms that could be used as offices. They wanted homes that offered some separation from each other. They wanted yards for recreation and entertainment with distance from neighbors. They wanted homes that matched their lifestyles.
As we are adapting to the long-term effects of COVID, our housing needs are changing. The American Dream lives on, but in a slightly different form. In view of the hardships facing so many parts of the globe, I just feel fortunate to have a place called home. I hope your household, whatever shape or form it takes, will be healthy and prosperous in 2022.