What constitutes country life?

updated 6/27: The NYT changed the previous headline from “country living” to the “far suburbs.”

Good piece today in the New York Times, surveying the scope of changing preferences for buying in the suburbs as energy prices continue rising:

Suddenly, the economics of American suburban life are under assault as skyrocketing energy prices inflate the costs of reaching, heating and cooling homes on the distant edges of metropolitan areas.

…Across the nation, the realization is taking hold that rising energy prices are less a momentary blip than a change with lasting consequences. The shift to costlier fuel is threatening to slow the decades-old migration away from cities, while exacerbating the housing downturn by diminishing the appeal of larger homes set far from urban jobs.

In Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minneapolis, homes beyond the urban core have been falling in value faster than those within, according to an analysis by Moody’s Economy.com.

In Denver, housing prices in the urban core rose steadily from 2003 until late last year compared with previous years, before dipping nearly 5 percent in the last three months of last year, according to Economy.com. But house prices in the suburbs began falling earlier, in the middle of 2006, and then accelerated, dropping by 7 percent during the last three months of the year from a year earlier.

So was that headline was a little bit misleading to you? Is it fair to term a house in an exurban subdivision an hour outside of Denver “country living” while residents of small towns and back roads in truly rural America struggle with high gas prices and don’t have many other options for fuel to fill the tractor or get into town for groceries?

Anyway, the piece quotes Joe Cortright, author of the CEO’s for Cities study on gas prices and the housing bubble, and mainstay Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institution, who is in high demand these days.