Being Content With the Home You Have

  • Posted on: 5 August 2008
  • By: mokshalom

I sometimes read The Housing Bubble Blog to keep up with what's been going on with the housing market. I am continually amazed at how often the "tale of woe" shared by people going into foreclosure is often due to greed rather than need. Consider the following story:

“In 2005, Jenni and Ryan Kroon traded the 1,100-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home in Boise they shared with their two children for a 3,500-square-foot, seven-bedroom, four-bath home in Nampa that cost $200,000*. Although financed with a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, the move still tripled their monthly mortgage payment to about $2,100.”

(*NOTE: I question whether the house was really sold for $200,000 or if this was a typo on the part of the newspaper - I'm not a mortgage expert but I added it up, and the total they'd pay over 30 years based on their payment would be $756,000.)

“That’s when the problems began. Jenni Kroon’s diabetes took a turn for the worse, requiring increased out-of-pocket outlays for doctor visits and expensive medicines. Then Ryan lost his job when his brother’s residential construction company folded.”

“‘With every month, it was more and more obvious that we had bitten off more than we could chew,’ said Jenni Kroon.”

“Today, the Kroons rent a four-bedroom, two-bath home in Nampa’s Royal Meadows subdivision for $895 a month. ‘My children and my husband hate it because it so much smaller, but I’m grateful for the cover,’ Jenni Kroon said.”

Wow! How horrible to be consigned to the awful fate of living in a mere four-bedroom house with only two bathrooms!

Certainly, I feel for anyone who has an illness that is affecting their finances, but I can't possibly fathom why any family with two children would need a seven-bedroom house with four bathrooms.

Wasn't it a wise guy named Buddha who said that desire was the cause of most suffering? If these folks had not desired a house beyond their means, they would not have experienced the suffering that ensued when they lost it.

There are some new "McCondos" being sold down the street from me. The asking price is about $900,000, no kidding. I saw the photos of the units, and they are all decked out in tacky "luxury." Everywhere I go, I see "luxury" units being built. No-one just builds things that are nice and affordable anymore. If it doesn't have a bathroom the size of a football field, with a tub that could fit a group of linebackers inside, it's not good enough.

Maybe I'm just weird in that my dream house is an old-school, well-maintained cottage-sized home that would fit me and whatever family I had in it. It would be withing walking distance of stores and shops, with public transportation nearby for those coming days when gas is just too overpriced for daily living.

Everyone I know who has a home constantly talks (or complains) about all the maintenance they do on it. If it's not cleaning the gutters or putting in a new bathroom, it's paying an unexpected sum on a termite infestation. The bigger the home, the more maintenance and the more it costs to furnish and fuel.

Americans in particular are spoiled when it comes to housing. The bigger the better, we think. But do we really need the bigger home, or are we trying to feel better about our empty lives? Filling up our empty lives with huge empty rooms is not the answer though.