Channels like HGTV have spawned our interest in housing and all things interior and exterior design.
A house isn’t nice enough if it doesn’t have granite countertops and a gourmet kitchen. No longer is the master bedroom simply bigger than the other bedrooms in the home. Instead, we want an en suite complete with a large bathroom (his and her sinks are a must), walk in closets with built in shelves and a sitting area. The bathroom must have a Jacuzzi hot tub.
When did this become the norm?
Of course it’s nice to live in lavish surroundings, but if you have trouble making ends meet or have debt to pay off, do you really need all of this?
Houses 60 Years Ago Were Very Different
The simple truth is that 50 or 60 years ago, houses were much simpler.
Everyone having their own room wasn’t a necessity. There weren’t fancy upgrades like granite countertops, en suites, and Jacuzzi hot tubs. Houses were much smaller.
“Back in the 1950s and ’60s, people thought it was normal for a family to have one bathroom, or for two or three growing boys to share a bedroom. . .The average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s; it now stands at 2,349 square feet (in 2006)” (NPR).
Sure, the recession has made some people decide that they don’t need McMansions, but houses are still plenty bigger than they were 5 or 6 decades ago.
Do We Really Need a Large Home with So Many Luxuries
Perhaps it’s time that we step back and look at the lavish luxuries we have in our homes as well as the square footage. After all, if Warren Buffett, a man worth billions, can live in the same 5 bedroom house he purchased decades ago for $31,500, do we need all of the excess we have now?
Of course, you’re free to choose any home that you would like, but if you want to live like the millionaires next store (and grow rich like them), maybe a simpler existence is what you need.
Maybe it’s time to stop competing with the Jones’ and find a house with just enough features to make you and your family comfortable without having expensive upgrades.
Have a Smarter House, Not a More Expensive One
Susan Susanka, an architect interviewed in USA Today recently renovated her home. “She didn’t use pricey granite or edgy concrete for her countertops. She used laminate. Her cabinets: Ikea. ”You can save thousands of dollars by using simple materials in a well-designed space,” she says.
We’re used to thinking that the cost of upgrades like granite countertops and gourmet kitchens can be recouped when we sell, but the most recent market shows us that it’s not always true. Homes don’t always go up in value.
Kermit Baker, chief economist of the American Institute of Architects says, “Plummeting home values have caused many people to stop seeing houses as an investment but rather as a place to live. Home-size declines probably will continue among high-end buyers, who began scaling back even before the recession” (USA Today).
Instead of insisting that everything in a home contain high end features, why not focus on areas that are most important to you. If you cook for your family every day and entertain, yes, by all means look for a house with a big kitchen. But does it have to have a double oven? Do you have to have stainless steel appliances or are the ones that are there currently just fine?
The economy has shown us that we need to be smart with our money to get ahead in this environment. We’ve also learned that houses don’t always go up in value and fancy upgrades don’t always pay off.
If you want to amass wealth, take a clue from Warren Buffett and realize when enough is good enough. You don’t always have to be in pursuit of the next best thing you can afford.
Sometimes the home you have is good enough.