Here is my confession. My husband and I are professionals in a two income earner family with only 4 legged children and…we rent (gasp). I say that it is a confession because, at least in my social circle, I am asked two questions more than any others. How many kids do you have? (Tackle that one in a later post.) When did you buy your house? Awkward! Sometimes I don’t even dispel them of the assumption that successful Gen Xers, with professional jobs all own homes. I just tell them when we moved in and leave the rest to their assumptions. There are several reasons I don’t go into it with most people. First, I am pretty private, all evidence in this blog aside, I think my personal life is mine.
The more complicated reason is that I find the reaction I get, to be a little frustrating. The various reactions have included:
- Are you poor?
- I thought you and your husband made a good living?
- Don’t you want a home?
- When are you going to grow up?
- Do you take care of it?
- Are you hippies?
- Don’t you want the American Dream?
So if you are shocked that people would say these things to a grown adult so was I, but my husband and I have been renting since we sold the only home we owned in 2003 so I have gotten used to it. Before you think we shun all conventionality we were on the track. Back in 1998 after 6 years of cohabitating (liberal hippies!) we decided to make it official and get married. Like that was not enough “adulting” for one year…we also bought our first house about 7 months before our wedding. Marriage and mortgage…look at us living “The American Dream”! Long story short, the marriage worked the mortgage did not. Our neighborhood transitioned, and not in that increased property value upwardly mobile way, but in that gang central, largest Meth House in the County way. We felt trapped and it took almost a year to unload what had become a prison.
To be fair, our house felt like a mental prison before that. See there are two very important characteristics hubby and I share. First we moved a lot when we were growing up, and that was sort of ingrained in us. Moving is a great way to invite fresh energy, and force you to evaluate your stuff. Even if like us, you stay in the general area, you are in a new neighborhood and will find new favorite spots. Life is a cabaret, right? The other trait we share is an intense aversion to home improvement projects. There has never been a Friday evening in our home with the following conversation:
Me: You know what we could do this weekend?
Him: Rip out the carpet and put in some tongue and groove hardwoods (Whatever those are)
Me: Exactly…It is like you are reading my mind.
Never happened…never going to happen. We just don’t value that. When we owned a home we felt pressure all the time. We had all these ideas about what we would do…but we hated the idea of doing them. We like a plug and play home and we like calling someone else to tell them something is broken. We are weekend warriors, if that involves being outdoors: running, biking, hiking or attending art festivals. If it includes a reserved parking space at Home Depot, you probably won’t find us there.
How do I answer my well meaning colleagues’ and friends’ criticism of our Peter Panesque hippy choices?
Just so everyone can relax. We are not poor in fact we are very fortunate and make more than we need to meet our needs. I have a home. My home is where my husband and cats are. I am very grown up. I have a responsible job, I care for my husband and aforementioned home, and I take care of my elderly mother and aunt. I take a lot of pride in my home. I clean it every week, it is easy because my husband and I don’t clutter every space. I pay someone to maintain our yard, because our time is worth it. I contribute to my neighborhood and I support local businesses. We may in fact be the newer version of modern hippies but we are okay with that. Lastly, your idea of the American Dream is not my idea of the American Dream, but thanks for thinking of me. In truth hubby and I have a long term plan and it involves retiring early, in around 8 years, and moving to the Pacific Northwest and downsizing. If it feels right we may buy a place. If not we are still okay living our own American Dream.