In the past few months, I have heard of a number friends buying their first home. They have wide smiles on their faces. I placed a bid and they accepted! they would squeal. It happened so quickly!
And I see a look in their eyes…almost saying you all should do the same. And yet, is this the long-term goal? To feel like something is your own? To know that…it is yours only and nobody can walk in at anytime?
My parents rent a huge 3 bedroom house to a family. The same family for more than 10 years. Growing up, I was taught that renting was supposed to be temporary. One day, you buy. You just do. It’s like buying a car rather than leasing it. You buy to keep.
How does owning real estate or property be the real goal in life? That we make financial decisions, career decisions, etc. just to own a home? Isn’t there something missing? There was a blog post awhile ago on a “be frugal” site that praised a couple that rented a $500/month apartment for several years and earned a $80,000 income combined that were able to buy a house (granted only a 150k house in middle America) in full, because they spent money frugally and lived cheaply. Readers sang praises to their success.
And what of it? Why is that a lifelong goal? Isn’t it completely empty once the house is purchased? Does the house become only a symbol of the success?
Maybe I see success as a culmination of experiences. I envy the spontaneous traveler who may not even have a home. There was a woman I met at a party who had traveled globally like a nomad for nine years. She ambled from village to village making her way around by bartering. I was thoroughly fascinated hearing her adventures in mediation and eating strange foods. I am pretty sure she did not save money for a home. I mentioned to her how I have settled in a routine saving a good portion of my salary each month and felt uneasy leaving the expected path of a career.
Why is the American dream the expected path? Owning a house, raising a family…then what?