My partner and I are in our 40s, and we just signed a new one-year lease on an apartment. This goes against everything we’ve every been taught or told.
We come from small town folk who have believed all of their lives that the major material measures of their success are their houses, their land, and their vehicles. It’s difficult to eschew all of those things and to still appear to them to be “accomplished”, or even “settled”.
We’ve both been homeowners in the past, for reasons both practical and conditioned. We were both previously married, and our now grown children were, of course, younger then. Admittedly, it was nice to have yards in which they could play.
Those days are behind us now, though. Our children no longer live with us full-time, and they’re no longer of the “playing in the yard age” (although my teenage son does still go outside to shoot hoops in the driveway at his mother’s house).
Still, the idea that we should own and live in a full-sized single family house at our age is so deeply embedded within us both that it feels nearly inescapable. Even if we didn’t feel it internally, we’d still hear it from nearly every friend and family member with whom we discuss our living conditions. It’s like some unwritten law that we all accept without question.
Except that my partner and I don’t anymore. We did consider it, though. We felt compelled to, even though we’re both perfectly happy living in (separate) apartments now. We’re thinkers, my partner and I, and we wanted to ensure that we made a conscious and purposeful decision, especially if we intended to go against what we had come to know as “the grain”.
We considered most conceivable living options, really. We looked at traditional single family houses, at townhouses and condominiums, at duplexes and rentals of every flavor. We considered buying a plot of land and constructing a new house, and we considered alternative spaces like tiny houses and…