If you live in a big city in the US northeast, or in the UK or Europe, you probably find this scene to be typical. Land is expensive, and packing tall houses in tightly makes the most use of that scarce resource.
But these row houses are in the Indianapolis suburb of Whitestown, on what was a farmer’s field just 20 years ago. There’s plenty of land here!]
I assume that a motivating factor in building these row houses was for the builder to extract maximum value out of the land. You’d get way fewer detached homes of the same square footage in this space.
In this stage of my life, a row house like one of these has a certain appeal. While I was raising my children, I lived in mid-century ranch homes on large lots. Those yards took a great deal of care. Just pushing a lawn mower around the yard would take at least 90 minutes out of every Saturday. The large, mature trees shed mountains of leaves every autumn. Woe betide me if I skipped even one weekend of leaf removal. I was tied to the house in October and November!
I enjoyed keeping the property looking good, and my kids made full use of the yard in their play. Those homes made good sense during that phase of my life.
But now the kids are all adults. Also, my career has hit its stride and there’s money to travel. My wife and I would very much like to take frequent weekend trips and an annual vacation.
I can always pay someone to cut the grass while we’re gone. But the other option is to not have so much yard to maintain in the first place. See the tiny front yards in front of these row houses? That’s all the yard there is. It would take five minutes to mow it. If you skip a week, it’s no big deal.
The downside of a row house is all the stairs. My left knee frequently complains at me as I ascend the stairs in the two-story house I live in now. The way these row houses are designed, the first floor is a living room, a powder room, and a garage (accessed via the alley out back). You spend most of your time on the second and third floors. Up and down and up and down — at some point when old age sets in, that may not be viable anymore.
Maybe single-story row houses are the answer!