New Concepts in Home Ownership

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11 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    A lovely sentiment and nicely written Mike.Report

  2. Avatar Dave says:

    I’ll work on a response and try to post.

    There I said it. Now I have to actually deliver. LOL.

    Nicely done Mike.Report

  3. Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

    My grandmother is moving into the duplex next to my mother this thursday.

    I’m a renter who had a deep suspicion of the home market for years. Not anything like an idea that the market would crash and bring down the economy. More the feeling that buying a house was a very bad deal way worse than everyone who told me how great an investment it was could conceive of.

    My concern was that the debt would tie me to that place trapping me if I needed to leave. I feel so relieved that I did not try to shoe-horn myself into a home given recent events. Still now that I am in a serious relationship that I don’t see leaving I want roots.

    Our apartments simply don’t have the room that we need, despite it being just the two of us and some cats I want a work room and a store room. We are thinking of renting a house together but not seriously yet.

    Thank you for the article Mike it was a very good read.Report

    • I think one of the key concepts is to start with land. Buy some land in a place you like and (if possible) go ahead and get it paid off. Make sure the utilities you need (city water, broadband, etc) are in place. Then you can start building modest structures to serve your immediate budget and needs. When I was single and thought I would be forever I planned on buying a modest 5 acres in a semi-rural are with room to grow (read: farms around me that might be willing to part with some land down the road). My plan was to put in a realtively cheap corrugated building that would serve my bachelor needs, plus give me workspace for my hobbies. I budgeted the whole plan out at around $75,000. The plan was to eventually put in a ‘real’ house and use the corrugated building as a kick-ass man cave.

      Then I found the love of my life and moved to the suburbs.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        I’ll address this in my response. Living in NJ in the metropolitan NYC area, I have a much different perspective on this.Report

        • I understand Dave. I don’t pretend to complete understand the dynamics of large cities like that. Here in Louisville land is never more than a 5 minute drive away. In that respect I don’t think I even fully understand what people look for in a home in those kinds of areas. I often envision the need for space as more along the European model (IKEA is our friend!)Report

  4. Avatar Thomas G. says:

    Nice post Mike. I think about these same things too. In our family home ownership is something that only began with my parents generation. My grandparents spent most of their lives as renters, moving about following the factory work. When my Dad passed away in 97′, the house was too big for Mom to manage alone, and my siblings and I had all moved away to follow the work once again. (Old immigrant habits take a few generations to die out I guess). So after a few years of struggling to get by we put the house on the market and she moved into an apartment. It still pains me to think of another family living in “our house”, even though the house predated our family by 100 years, and served as a home to countless other families before us. That sense of rootlessness and loss is what brought me to sites like FPR, and The League in the first place.

    Now that I live in a house in Minnesota (15 years and counting) my wife and I wonder what we will do when our kids our grown, and on their own. Will we stay, or follow them if their search for work leads them elsewhere? Our house is our home, but the roots are still pretty shallow here. The house is small by today’s standard, which we like. We aren’t Vanderbilt’s, and a family of 4 just doesn’t need much space. But I look around our neighborhood and it is such a rootless place. The homes turnover so frequently it is hard to maintain that connection to the community that makes a place home. Our community connections are through our parish, and the friends we have made in our 18 years here. Could we have the same sense of community in a condo downtown, or another house somewhere else in the area? I would have to say yes.Report

  5. Jeffery Polet has a great post up at FPR today where he discusses some of the problems with a lack of place. A good selection:

    “I admire Berry’s sense of scale, his sense of place, his sense of what is lost. Having returned to my hometown after 20 years of academic wandering has reaffirmed for me the importance of an axis mundi and the high costs of estrangement. For years my wife and I puzzled over where we might be buried when we died. That question has now been definitively answered, and the issue highlights a number of consequences resulting from massive social mobility. For us, the issues are complicated because we have returned home in a way that is not quite the case for our children. They do not think of themselves as Michiganders in the way we do. At the same time, they are Catholics in a way we are not, for it is to them not a choice they made later in life but a central part of their identity from the moment they were baptized. This gap exists between me and my children – they have no well-defined sense of place because of the moves we have made – and I wonder what it portends for them and for us.

    Add to that the problems that occur when your children go off to college. Whatever the advantages of college life for your children, these are offset in part (from a parental viewpoint) by the realization and fear that once they leave for college, you may never live in the same place with them again. My oldest daughter now goes to college in Ohio, and I lament the distance that now separates us and fear its permanence. It’s not unthinkable that by the time my three children graduate from college I may not live again within a day’s drive of my children and grandchildren.

    This sad awareness is deepened by the fact that it is precisely what I did to my parents, oblivious to how they might have felt. They graciously let me go, and I hope I can be as gracious with my children; indeed, I regard attending college as a desirable good for them, despite the costs (and not just monetary). But still, the thought of separation creates a sharp pang of pain and loss. This sense of loss is, as Oakeshott has noted, the essence of the conservative disposition, particularly if one is made aware of the loss without a sense of compensating gains. I find it striking how oblivious we can be to these costs, and also to what we extract from one another.”Report