Smaller Spaces

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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6 thoughts on “Smaller Spaces

  1. Space is very useful for children to be able to get away from each other, and from their parents, which I think is very helpful on fostering good inter-sibling relationships. Also small spaces require a large amount of work to keep them livable, where large spaces permit messes to be swept into some areas with little work and dealt with later.

    There’s also the issue of charity; a large home means the capacity for charity which a small home doesn’t. Whether it’s a friend not having to rent a hotel room or a friend being able to stay with you for a few months while they find someplace to live, or children needing a while as adults to save up to afford their own house, a large house gives you the capacity to give to others. I agree that status symbols are a trap, but it must be born in mind that small spaces work best with servants to do all the work of making them livable, and simply don’t give one the power of certain sorts of charity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      I had not thought of homeownership in the context of charity. Great insights here. Thanks for them Chris.

      I fully plan on getting another house when able. I just feel differently about the concept and the necessity of certain things that aren’t important, and would result in living beyond my means. I already have enough debt, thank you very much!


  2. crayzorder says:

    “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.”

    Love this quote! That’s exactly how I see houses as well. Thought I was in the minority. It’s a shame how much status has become embedded in a lot of us.

    Either way, great article. Looking forward to more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Houses occupy an interesting space in the American psyche, don’t they? They are fun and working on them and creating a HOME is very fulfilling. I just think that there is a heavy temptation to “keep up with the Joneses” that can get out of control if you’re not careful.

      I fully intend to get another house as soon as possible. The experience of “downgrading” from a house to an apartment has just got me thinking.


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