I often catch grief as a homebuilder who lives in an apartment. "Isn't that almost a sacrilege" they ask? "Why wouldn't you want to build yourself a big beautiful home? What about the American Dream?" Well, the American Dream is alive and well, and for many families it's what they live their lives for....working hard to buy a bigger house to contain all their "stuff". There's nothing at all wrong with that, but for some of us we see all that stuff as owning you vs you owning it.
There was a time in my life when I had nice, fairly large homes. With a wife and three children (and a dog), we needed lots of bedrooms and bathrooms and living areas and a big yard, too. It was right for us at the time, and I don't regret it. But for me today, when I realized I was paying utilities and insurance and taxes and maintenance on space that I wasn't using even half of for just two people, a little light bulb came on in my head. Enough!
Today something like this would be my dream house.
I would love to find a postage-stamp-size lot in a decent neighborhood and build about a 1,000 square foot single story home. A Great Room (kitchen/family room), two modest bedrooms at most, a bath and a half, small utility room, and a garage is all I/we need. Can you imagine how little there would be to maintain? Sweet!
Trouble is, no city around here will let you build a home that small. It's all about the money. Cities love McMansions because they generate a lot of tax dollars for them. They can provide city services (parks, water, sewer, streets, police and fire protection, etc) to a small family in a very modest home, or to a small family living in a home four times as large, generating four times the tax revenue. It's all about them, not the residents they serve. The tail is wagging he dog!
I could go 20 miles further out of town and buy land in an unincorporated area and build pretty much whatever I wanted, but who wants to mow acreage? It sorta defeats the idea of a "maintenance-free" lifestyle. And who wants to drive half an hour to go to the store for some last minute supplies for the night's cookout?
I could buy an early post-WWII home....they were commonly around the size I would like....but most of those neighborhoods are today pretty....umm, "run down". I like the sights and sounds of birds chirping and people walking their dogs, not random gunfire and crime scene tape.
Townhomes are a possibility, but most are fairly new and currently in high demand. To buy one and then gut it in order to build it back to my standards would be impractical....it would be so "over-improved" I could never get my money back if I ever wanted/needed to sell it.
Which brings me to apartment living. Small, new and clean, with nice grounds and tons of popular amenities, and maintenance-free to boot. I often have to take a deep breath and shake my head when I look at the cabinets, appliances, and such, but did I mention it's maintenance-free? *happy dance*
I think my point of view is gaining acceptance. Many empty nesters these days are choosing "lock and leave" apartments where they can travel for months at a time and use their apartment for a base when they're in town.
HGTV now even has an entire series built around tiny houses. Most are built on wheels and are just a couple of hundred square feet, which is even too small for me, and besides, I've sorta grown accustomed to indoor plumbing. *wink*
Whenever I need to have my inspiration renewed I just think of my friend in St. Petersburg, FL who lives on a vintage 35-foot cabin cruiser, or look again at this video of a guy in Bordeaux, France who converted a garage into a killer residence. It's small, compact, and utilizes every square inch of space. Everything has a place. "Everything you need, nothing you don't."
While the neighborhood looks rather shabby by our standards here (it's in a historic district), they say it's in a highly desirable area there. It's really a cool watch, but don't bother with the sound unless you speak French.
Now I'll wish you a happy Fourth of July. I hope you have a wonderful day. I'll defer my celebration for another couple of days....we're moving into a new, cool, smaller space this long weekend.