I’m sitting here at the moment drinking a beer and looking through the paperwork for the refinance on my home, a requirement of my divorce settlement. The closing should be happening within a week now. How exciting! This has been a very difficult year for me in many ways, and I’m feeling pretty grateful for my “right sized” home right about now. I don’t mind bragging on the fact that my refinance has netted me a lower interest rate, I was able to buy down a point, and my monthly payment will be a full $65 less per month than my original payment. And I had a pretty sweet payment to start with!
I’ve been in this house coming up on two years now. I’ve learned to appreciate its many qualities during every season. I’ve been in homes twice the size of mine that felt incredibly sterile. I am not sure if that is a reflection of the owner’s personality or the sort of home they chose to occupy. :p What I do know is that in a very unsteady economy working a job that must be reapproved every March, I’m very grateful for a small payment and a home that has low utility costs! It takes a little of the punch out of worrying about one’s future. My ultimate goal is to pay this home off early; not really a choice yet, but a very viable one in another 5 – 10 years.
This little place is about 725 square feet on the “main” floor and has a finished basement that is another 725 square feet. It doesn’t look like it from the outside, but I have three bedrooms and two full baths in here. I have space downstairs to do my laughable sewing projects, mess around with art, watch movies and annoy the cats. I can keep people downstairs comfortably who have access to their own bathroom. I have views of the mountains and trees from every single window — and I live within city limits! I have a small but tidy kitchen and a small but functional living area with space to eat a meal.
Not only am I not jealous of what others have (like that nice older period home in the nice, older neighborhood), I’m actually very happy with what I have — proud of it, even! I think there are two things specifically that have kept me from having home envy.
1) My home is full of things that are important to me — it really speaks to where I’ve been and what I like. My own photography is on the walls. My books and my grandmother’s pottery are on the shelves. If it exists in this house, it means something. It gives me pleasure just to be surrounded by it. I think that makes a big difference. Many McMansions I’ve been in look like sterile holding barns for people.
2) I stopped watching HGTV. Seriously. While I really used to love that channel and still sneak in an episode of “International House Hunters” from time to time, I noticed after a while it was beginning to make me discontented with what I owned. Think of how many people complain about not having granite countertops! Or how the rooms are too small, or how to redo their family room on a budget that really isn’t anywhere near my budget. Looking at all the outdoor spaces I couldn’t afford or the “who made the best investment” type of episodes began to take a toll on me. So I stopped watching them. I’m happier.
And in this economy, who cares about granite countertops anyway?! My little home has an allure all its own. It whispers about a life well lived (well, most of the time). I hope it hints about who we are as people and broadcasts comfort and access to pursuing one’s passions. I don’t say that to mean I hope we’re telegraphing certain lifestyle cues to visitors. I just mean that I think and hope my little right-sized home speaks to the sort of life we cherish most — and that won’t be a life filled with the latest and greatest electronics, expensive furniture and impersonal decorations. It is rather a glamorous little life lived on a surprisingly small budget that yields way more dividends than a rich stock portfolio.