I can’t figure out if I want to buy a house or, if I do, what kind of house I want to buy.
I think I mentioned that R and I are house hunting? Yeah, I did.
So really this should be what kind of house I want us to buy but there’s a u in us so I’m allowed to work it out a little first, right?
We’re house hunting because we’ve saved enough money over the years to buy property and the financial advisor we work with (I think I’ve mentioned him too. Yeah, I have.) advised that property in Los Angeles is an excellent investment. We can afford a price point at which there is inventory. That’s realtor speak for houses. That price point is very low for Los Angeles meaning the locations of these houses are very specific. That’s me speak for limited. You can search them on Redfin or Trulia or Zillow or Realtor.com or all of them because you’re procrastinating writing a new 1/2 hour sample. Put the price point in and they pop up like little wine stains on the map of Los Angeles. We can live in a little wine stain called West Adams, a big wine stain called North East LA (though not Echo Park at all and not most of Highland Park unless we want a real fixer and do we want a real fixer? That’s not rhetorical. I have no idea) or a huge wine stain called Glendale. All of these are nice places to live. They all feature houses that would be absolutely and perfectly fine places to call home. If we wanted a house for the sake of having a house – more space, a little yard – we would have a house. It’s like I used to say when I was single – if I wanted any boyfriend I would have a boyfriend. So I guess I just don’t want a boyfriend that bad?
Or was I wrong back then, too? Was that just an excuse for being so picky and perfection-seeking that I couldn’t see the inventory (houses/men) for what it was?
I’m not house hunting with a business brain. I’m not looking at every (or any) house from a pure dollars and cents perspective. This here is the most value for the least cost. Done. (my business brain is from the 1920s). I’m house hunting with a competitive, LA-dwelling, I-bought-35-dollars-worth-of-air-plants-yesterday brain. I’m not buying property; I’m buying lifestyle. And I think, therein lies the problem. I think I don’t know what kind of lifestyle I want to buy into. Or, maybe, what kind of lifestyle will actually make me happy.
Then last night I heard a chunk of the TED Radio Hour on the topic of happiness.
This confirms that NPR is, in fact, God.
I landed on the section of this podcast where a man named Graham Hill talks about whether or not more makes happier – stuff, space, money, etc. Here it is if you’d like to give a listen.
Graham explains that Americans have never had more space and yet never purchased/amassed more stuff. One of the fastest growing businesses in America is, in fact, personal storage units. So we buy space to have enough room for our stuff, then we get more stuff meaning we need more space. Why?
I’m into blaming the media these days so we could start there. We live in a society of never enough and we’re sold it day in, day out. I think there’s a fair amount of keeping up with the Jones’s going on too. I know I feel that. Many of our closest friends have very large, very well-kept houses. Sometimes I am embarassed having them at our tiny apartment. Sometimes I am embarassed showing them the tiny houses we can afford. This isn’t logical. It isn’t “right.” But it is a fact.
The thing is – according to this podcast at least – more or the most I can have isn’t necessarily going to make me happy. Statistics this guy Graham shared prove that fact over and over again. Bringing me back to why I’m stuck on this whole house thing.
Why would we not buy the absolute least we need – tiny house, not perfect neighborhood, even a condo somewhere – for the sake of getting into the valuable LA housing market so that we can continue to afford a lifestyle filled with experiences, travel, not fighting over how we have no money? I’ve asked that question before. Every time I give myself these two answers:
- Because the way to make the most money on real estate long-term is to stretch your budget now. A 3bd, 2bath in a gentrifying neighborhood goes for a ton more in 5-10 years than a 2bd condo. You earn more, long-term.
- Because I want a really nice house with a yard for my dog and a back patio with string lights like on Brothers & Sisters so I can throw really impressive dinner parties. I want to love my life every day.
And so I return to the my final resting place on the matter: I need more money. Lots more money.
Except that now this annoying and yet potentially life-saving TED happiness episode is chiming in: do you really need more? don’t you have enough?
How much happier will more make you?
I don’t know…and I don’t know how to find out…and is there a return policy on a house?
I’m going to listen to the rest of this podcast episode today. There’s a whole section on the power of slowing down. Maybe that will solve the riddle.
Or maybe I’ll make a million dollars over night?
Oddly that seems just as likely as answering one of the biggest questions I’ve ever debated because of a 45 minute podcast.