Though the great American dream of McMansion ownership is gone forever, the scaled-down American dream of McMansion renter-ship is still within reach. In California, for example, "thousands" of sell-out college kids are occupying McMansions to cut down their housing costs and study in hot tubs.

The New York Times reports that, for some college students, renting out a McMansion with yr frens is much cheaper and more convenient than living in a dorm. At the University of California, Merced, for example, many students can't even find on-campus housing because their school is new and hasn't built enough dorms to house them all. And even if they do get a dorm room, they have to pay almost twice as much as they would renting a McMansion. So the smart ones cluster together (solidarity) and head for the subdivisions, plunking down $250 or $350 per person to rent out one of the many foreclosed-upon castles and enjoy Jacuzzis, chandeliers, and other luxuries. "I mean, I have it all!" says Merced senior Patricia Dugan—who's majoring in marketing, a practical field.

Living la vida McCasa comes with some risks. Chandeliers can collapse, especially after too much swinging from them. Walk-in closets provide fertile ground for spiders and ghouls. Sleeping in a "princely boudoir with a whirlpool tub worthy of Caesars Palace and a huge walk-in closet" can lead to douchebaggery and regrettable sexual encounters. Pool games played in pool rooms on too many cheap American swill-beers can result in fistfights. Landlords skip town, and banks come calling. Criminals are drawn to McNeighborhoods in search of copper wiring and things to steal from you. You have to hire a gardener.

And neighbors—like the guy who "bitterly" told the Times that the youthful McMansion inhabitants in his neighborhood are "the luckiest students I've ever come across"—harbor their bitterness. But such cranky voices should be dismissed, for renting McMansions in groups is probably the only way these college kids will ever be able to enjoy such luxuries on their own, as independent adults, before graduating into the jobless economy and moving back home to Mom and Dad's McMansion. Enjoy your carpets and relax thyselves in those Jacuzzi waters today, easily impressed American youths, for you may not get to experience such joys tomorrow.

[New York Times. Image rwxoc123/Flickr]