My long personal nightmare is over. After over a year-and-a-half of living a dual existence, bouncing between New England and the Capital Region, driving 800+ miles per week and being away from my wife and son three out of the seven days, 2017 sees us all together 24/7.
To say I am happy about this does my feelings no justice.
Mentally and emotionally, I am at greater peace.
Physically, I finally feel like my old self again, the high-energy guy who hardly slept and never took a minute off.
I had thought I was getting old. It turns out that not sleeping, spending 16-20 hours in a car per week, and being separated from my family had deleterious effects. Who would have guessed?
So we are all back together, and there is much rejoicing.
But an interesting thing has happened as we’ve gone from owning a house to renting a small apartment. And while the current living situation is temporary, I have discovered something very interesting:
I don’t miss having all of that space.
I know, I know, I’ll get back to you after a year of this, if we’re still. And maybe the “honeymoon” of being reunited has worn off.
But still, I find myself not missing all of the extra room a house brings.
Of course, much of our stuff is still stored with family back north. And we are actively looking for a bigger, more permanent place.
I can’t help but wonder about the so-called “American dream” of home-ownership.
Owning a home is nice, and it’s great to have your own little piece of America, but consider this:
- Unless you have the money to purchase it outright, you don’t really “own” your home. The bank does.
- Home ownership is another kind of debt. A huge one.
- Banks and other mortgage lending institutions do not care about you.
- We are pushed to view homes as “investments” rather than places to live, yet we’ve seen this “sure thing” burst quite severely before. Why won’t it again in the future?
And where I am now looking for a home, real estate prices are preposterous.
Culturally, the “more and bigger” phenomenon is interesting. We want space; it becomes a status symbol.
I view houses the way I view cars: Utilitarian things designed for heavy use that need to work for the individual, what other people think be damned.
Maybe I’m just wired oddly. I don’t know.
But the thrill of more is persists. Is it worth it to be housepoor, just so you can brag about your house?
I’ve struggled with low-paying jobs and unemployment before. Struggling to pay a mortgage is no fun.
Struggling to pay rent is no fun either, but renting a living space is a far less onerous obligation than taking out a mortgage and buying a house.
Homes do tie you down. They are a pain to buy and sell. The construction and real estate industries are full of shadiness and distrust. And it’s very difficult to quickly pack up and move when needed.
Psychologically, owning a home is powerful. I enjoyed it. There’s something about performing improvements around the house, and riding the tractor, with a beer in one hand and your kid sitting on your lap, mowing the lawn on a nice summer day is really quite magical.
Maybe this whole gypsy-like existence, bouncing from apartment to family’s house and back has taught me to temper my expectations, and my needs.
I’m as capitalistic as the next American, but the drive for stuff, and status via stuff infects us no matter how immune we think we are.
We’ll see what the future holds, as schools are now our primary driver for where to set down roots, but I’m certainly looking at both the process and the ideal of home-ownership with a different set of eyes than I did all those years ago.
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