There’s a lot of talk about buying houses around here lately. Not for me, of course–buying a house isn’t my idea of the American Dream. But for many of the people close to me, it’s the next step in life that makes sense.
My brother recently bought his first house. My mom’s looking to move and wants to buy her next house in a different part of the state. A best friend of mine just made her first offer on a house.
Despite shifting paradigms, it seems that buying a house is still the thing you do at a certain age. That, and getting married. Having babies. Getting promoted in your career. Taking up new hobbies like pottery-making. Upgrading your car to something respectable. I recently turned 30 and suddenly I’m one of the only people I know that doesn’t own a home or have any plans to buy one.Buying a house is NOT my American Dream #locationindependence #freedom Click To Tweet
There’s nothing wrong with any of this, mind you. It’s all well and good that people take this traditional route in life. It’s beautiful, in fact. So long as it fulfills you, I say buy that house.
It just isn’t my dream.
I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt and am reminded of it frequently. As I drive around town, I see the enormous houses that have become the status quo in America and it sends a shiver down my spine. The mere thought of being responsible for something like that, well, it’s almost enough to put me right back on a plane with a one-way ticket to I-don’t-even-care-where.
The cleaning, the maintenance, the mortgage; the worry, the stress, the liability.
As someone who aspires to a minimalist existence, the excessive nature of houses in America makes no sense to me. Most people seem to want bigger, bigger, bigger when in reality we could all survive just fine with a LOT less space and use a LOT fewer resources in doing so.
Don’t get me wrong–I get the appeal of owning a house for most people. It represents so much more than shelter. I won’t even suggest that it’s purely a status symbol. Perhaps for some, a house does indeed represent success, but it also represents stability. It represents security. It represents the future. It’s the place where your children will grow up, where countless memories will be forged.
What you’re probably now wondering is whether, underneath it all, I’m really just a commitment-phobe. Having changed location every few weeks for the last several years, I can see how one might think that.
On the contrary–I’m just extremely committed to my own freedom of choice, and to me, owning a house is the antithesis of that.
To own a home in America, I’d essentially have to agree to give up the freedom I’ve worked so hard for in creating my location independent lifestyle. In case you haven’t heard, homes in America cost a whole hell of a lot these days–the median price of listed homes is $250,000. No, I can’t afford that and no, I don’t want to.
Then I hear the term “seller’s market” being tossed around and all I can think of is how much of my lifestyle I’d have to compromise in order to afford a mortgage, even in rural areas. My self-employed status. My flexible schedule. My ability to travel. My zest for life. My sanity.
I think about buying a house and in my mind, it equates to sacrifice.
Being a homeowner does not trump working a flexible job that I love, even if it means I’m earning less than my peers and living what many would consider a mediocre life.
I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t still irk me to hear people suggest that if I’m not saving up for my first home, I’m somehow failing. That if I choose to spend my money on things that provide value in other ways (like the life experience and perspective that travel brings), I’m being irresponsible.
I’m not saving up for a down payment, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to berate me for it.
Yes, we millennials hold different values than older generations. A growing number of us don’t want to buy cars and houses and instead spend our money on rent and frequent travel. The implication that we’re wrong for doing so is where I take issue.
Not to mention that those of us who choose to rent may have perfectly valid reasons for doing so–reasons just as valid as the ones used to justify buying. If I never plan to live in one place for too long, buying just doesn’t make sense. Likewise if I plan to be gone for much of the year (and traveling abroad will play a large role in my life for as long as I am physically able).
That being said, I really shouldn’t need a justification for not buying a house. My American Dream might look different from the next person’s, and both visions are okay. We can coexist, the renters and the buyers. We don’t need to change each other’s minds.
For me, the American Dream consists of creating a life that I’m excited to wake up to every day. Doing work that I’m passionate about. Making life a little bit sweeter for the people around me. Living each day with intention and experiencing as much of this wonderful world as possible.
Of course, I’m only 30 years old, and there’s no reason to think that my American Dream won’t change over the next few decades. Owning a house might indeed be in my future someday. People change, and so do circumstances.
Maybe it’ll be a tiny home. Maybe it’ll be a van. Or maybe I’ll be a renter for the rest of my time on Earth.
No matter what happens, I hope you can see beauty in the diversity of the American Dream, whether it’s enclosed by a white picket fence or not.