According to census data published by the National Association of Homebuilders, 24 percent of houses completed in 2015 had three-car garages. That’s about 800 square feet of housing for cars, bigger than most new apartments.
Meanwhile, Patrick Clark of Bloomberg notes that there were more three car garages built than one bedroom apartments built, in every year except 2005.
The number of three-car garages has been climbing because since the Great Recession; builders have been concentrating on more expensive homes, since only rich people can buy them. (A trend we covered earlier in American Houses Are Getting Bigger Again, Because The Only People Buying Are The 1%) As for young people, one consultant told Clark:
"One of the interesting things we're finding is that between Uber and public transport, a lot of millennials are deciding they don't need a car, so parking becomes a less-important issue. But we're also seeing more multi-generational housing, where the kids are taking care of elderly parents or you have the new grad moving home after college, and now you have four cars where it might have been two before."
Of course, three-car garages take up more space and need bigger lots with more frontage, meaning more sprawl. Clark sees the problem here:
It’s hard to escape the irony that the U.S., which will need something like 43 million new housing units to keep up with population growth in the next 35 years, is using space to build apartment-size garages, even as trends in ride-sharing and self-driving cars cast a measure of uncertainty on American car culture.
Perhaps when the shared self-driving cars arrive, all those garages can be converted into apartments or boomer flats. Young and old people have to live somewhere.