The days of building large houses in what once were soybean fields is over, according to one North Carolina developer. What once were lifestyle assets — the SUV, a big lawn, a huge house — are liabilities in the age of much higher energy costs.

The Washington Post weighs in this morning with its analysis of how higher gas prices will cut short exurban development. More than half of all Americans live in the suburbs and growth rates there have exceeded 90 percent in the last decade. That trend is slowing. “When people bought homes, they punched the numbers and said can we afford the mortgage payment and taxes,” said Bruce Katz, with the Brookings Institution. “This new paradigm is going to have families being more deliberate about the cost of transportation spending and energy costs. That’s a new phenomenon in the United States. That will be the change that will change development patterns.”

So, more people will want to live closer in to the city. But what happens to those who live and work in rural America — producing the stuff urban Americans need to maintain their city lifestyles? The story doesn’t go that far.

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