I can remember the days before children. No babies waking me with the cry’s of almond milk or the sight of daylight that suggested no one can sleep once the sun rises. I also faintly remember the days before marriage. Staying up til 5am and sleeping until 2:30pm to make it to work by 3pm.
In those days of old I had it all planned out in my head: College and Start with a small starter home…eventually get married and move on to a bigger house. Next comes kids and then you need a bigger house for babies. As the kids grow you need play rooms right? I mean we can’t have our kids play in their bedrooms? And we wouldn’t want them hanging out in the same room as us? And God forbid we go to a public park or place to congregate.
Well as I have gotten older I have realized my ideas about how things worked as a kid were by and large incorrect on many levels. In high school I took a few trips down to Mexico to help those less fortunate build houses,churches and clean up schools. It was a tremendous experience I would recommend to everyone. Seeing poor and rich outside of the US is an eye opening experience, especially in a country that is not up to standards of the US (So I’m not talking England or Australia. I am talking Mexico, India, Haiti, etc.). I got to meet all these incredibly happy people but yet they lived with dirt floors in a house that was maybe 1000 sq feet with 5 kids!
The experience I am most grateful for is the first time I went to Mazatlan. For the first two days we stayed with a host family rather staying in a hotel. Well I was fortunate to stay with one of the wealthiest host families…and let me tell you that their standard of living was that of the poor class of America. The head of the household was a doctor, yet he drove a very old station wagon and they lived in a house that would probably be described as the ghetto in US standards. I was staying with one of the only families to actually have running water to take a shower! Many of my friends had to bath in tubs or got no baths at all. And these families were rolling out the red carpet for their American guests. This radically impacted my world view and began a significant change in my thinking.
I didn’t change overnight to the financial salmon I am today, but redefining what luxury and needs were as well as what rich meant helped point me in the direction of swimming upstream. In the housing boom I was still caught up in bigger…bigger…bigger. It seems like this is what the financial masses are purporting as the American Dream. In the 1970’s the average house size was roughly 1400 square feet and today they are roughly double that! During the same time span families size has reduced. Our standards continue to change that we need more…There is never anything big enough. It’s apart of our nature to be greedy which we will go into depth at a later point. I believe if our standards have changed to bigger, why can’t those of us swimming upstream change the popular tide to be more reasonable with our housing.
About a year ago I had to move for a new job in Texas. The home of “bigger is better”. We lived in a one bedroom 700 square foot apartment with two young girls. This experience was a revelation after downsizing from our 1800 square foot 4 bedroom home! It was tough at times and we did wish for more storage space and a yard for our girls to play, but we realized we could really downsize and be happy. There were a lot of emotional highs and lows that year but I truly remember some happy moments in that apartment. Fast Forward to the present and my wife and I knew when buying a new house
we should really challenge ourselves to our own philosophy. Let’s enjoy a smaller house being closer together.
Financially this meant a smaller mortgage ($700 a month savings) and lower electric bills (yet to be determined).We also plan on enjoying more of the under utilized things our tax dollars pay for like public parks and libraries.
With all this said I challenge you to step out of your bubble and re-evaluate how you think about housing. What do you need versus what do you want. My wife and I are still enjoying a luxurious life when compared to our counterparts in Mexico, but we are challenging ourselves to be content with less. This will allow us to continue to swim upstream from the financial masses as we change popular ideas about buying a new house