May 12th, 2014

The no-house blues

I am a relatively lucky person, I freely admit it. I’m also a pretty hard worker with low standards. So, what I mean by that is, I’m not troubled by a relatively large amount of work, and a relatively small amount of stuff–and I’ve been lucky enough to get opportunities to do the work and get the stuff I want. While I do enjoy material possessions, I don’t need very many or very nice ones to feel happy–my pink $30 skirt from Target thrills me every time I put it on. If you gave me a nicer skirt, I would probably wear and like that too, but I wouldn’t go looking/shopping for it.

What all of the above adds up to is I’m pretty generally happy. It’s nice, but the side effect is my being a bit spoiled, in that I’m relatively unused to the feeling of wanting something material that I can’t have. I want few enough things things, and I earn enough money that when I do want something–trip to visit friends, out of season fruit, pink skirt–I can usually afford it. I haven’t been dissatisfied in the standard capitalistic way in a long time.

But I do not have a house and, judging from current trends, I won’t be getting one. I understand that this is not a tragedy; many people are unhoused in a more literal sense while I am lucky enough to have a relatively large and nice apartment where the kitties run free all day.

But it is not a house. It has no front door into the street, and no backyard in which to plant things. I can’t go “up to bed” or “come down to breakfast” rights of daily passage that I always expected to have as an adult. I have no basement in which to store holiday decoration, out of season clothes, and other things that i do not wish to be reminded every day that I own. I’m not making an investment in my future/the city of Toronto/”the market” either. I don’t know where my husband and I will live when we are old, let alone the cats. All this makes me sad.

I love that I live in a thriving vibrant city with vast and various neighbourhoods, a bajillion parks, tonnes of cultural institutions and a relatively healthy job market. But the price I pay for it is a literal one–almost every time I see a listing on a real-estate websites for a house in our price range, it is listed as a “teardown” or only slightly better, a “handyman’s dream.”

Tiny Rebecca assumed that adulthood would include stairs, a basement, and a yard, because that’s what her parents have. But adulthood is doing your best with the circumstances–emotional and physical–that you find yourself in, not enjoying a set of generic perks that everyone gets upon reaching a certain age (would that it were). I’m sure my husband and I actually could buy a house, if we were willing to take on a terrifying level of debt that would cancel most of our fun in life (even pink-skirt buying) or move out of this city that we love. But we won’t because doing those things would make us sadder than buying a house would make us happy (I think the cats would be happier in the house and they wouldn’t have to pay the mortgage/sacrifice the skirts, but they don’t get a vote).

Not having a house is not a tragedy, it’s not even something worth getting upset about–it’s just an expectation adjustment. But I *am* sad, because past conceptions of the future are hard to let go of. This post has no real larger message than that: I’m sad, but I shouldn’t be. I’ll try to stop.

4 Responses to “The no-house blues”

  • Kerry says:

    Seriously, keep an eye on Craigslist/View-It. I am confident you can find a rental with everything you’re looking for. I love my rented backyard and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Also, you are SO making an investment in Toronto just by making it your home. xo


  • Rebecca says:

    Thanks, Kerry–I will keep an eye out. I love your rented yard, too.


  • Frederique says:

    965000 is the average price? Speechless. I just looked at the census and the average salary for a two-income household in Toronto is $70000, so who is even buying these?

    I have not given up hope on the “generic perks that everyone gets upon reaching a certain age”.


  • Rebecca says:

    I think that 965000 number is somewhat skewed by houses that sell for 10 mil–I betcha the median is more like 650000–but still!!! People are going into crazy debt for these houses, and if they love their houses and feel confident they can pay it off, ok, but I could not do that.

    I am also hopeful about the generic perks–thus far, I have enjoyed a free sundae at Menchie’s for being in my birth month, but that’s about it!!


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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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