What is your current housing situation?

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What is your current housing situation?

Live for free with family
19
15%
Rent from family
8
6%
Rent a room you share with strangers
0
No votes
Rent your own room in a home shared with strangers
27
21%
Rent an apartment of your own
35
27%
Rent a whole house of your own
7
5%
Own (with mortgage) a home, but rent land (e.g. condo, mobile home, etc)
5
4%
Own (free and clear) a home, but rent land (e.g. condo, mobile home, etc)
1
1%
Own (with mortgage) a home on its own land
25
19%
Own (free and clear) a home on its own land
3
2%
 
Total votes: 130

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Pfhorrest
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What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 14, 2014 5:54 pm UTC

For clarity:
  • "Family" here means, archetypically, parents, but also anyone else who might stand in for parents like an aunt or uncle or grandparent or older sibling... whoever raised you... where you're living in their house. It shouldn't include, say, you have a rich cousin who owns an apartment complex that you happen to rent out of.
  • "Your own" here means to include any spouse or significant other and any children or dependents of your own, any kind of nuclear-family-like structure with you in a parent-like role. As opposed to, say, you and some friend rent a 2bd apartment and each get one bedroom with a shared commons, or you rent out a 4bd house and sublet out three of the rooms, etc.
  • "Strangers" here means anyone who is not family in either sense; people who are neither parents and siblings etc, nor spouses and children etc, no matter how well you know or like them.
If so inclined please also post your geographic location, your age and other stage-of-life indicators like education level, any details you'd like to share about your housing situation (number of roommates or housemates, number of rooms in your apartment or house, square footage, property value if you like, etc), and most importantly to me, how you feel about your situation (and how you think it compares to your peers or to people in general). Also feel free to post your housing-situation history if you like.

I'm posting this because I've long felt frustrated with my own housing situation and I'd like to compare it to other people's but I can't seem to find statistics on things like what percentage of people own or rent and so forth; the one common statistic I find everywhere is what percentage of homes are owner-occupied, which only tells me about the houses, not the people that I'm more interested in.

[EDIT: Additional clarification point about 'strangers'.]
Last edited by Pfhorrest on Wed May 14, 2014 6:46 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 14, 2014 6:09 pm UTC

My answers: I currently own (free and clear) a small 1bd, <500sqft mobile home on rented land in Ojai, CA. I paid $15k for it in a distressed sale, and am told by different sources it is worth either $25k or $45k. Rent is controlled down to $500/mo plus utilities. I turn 32 this year, have had a Bachelor's degree for the past 7 years, and make about $47k/yr now. I have lived here for almost one year. For almost ten years prior to that I rented my own bedroom in an old 4bd/2ba house full of constantly-changing strangers (three to four of them at a time) in Goleta, CA. Prior to that I lived for free in a tool shed on my father's property next to his mobile home on its own land (mortgaged), also here in Ojai, CA.

How I feel about it? I think in an equitable society the entire working class of every income level should have reasonable opportunity to own their own home on its own land. I feel trapped into paying rent forever and am desperately struggling to eventually start buying something on land of its own. I seem to be farther ahead in that respect, owning my own mobile home as I do, than any of my own peers, but I feel like I am still well behind society's standards. Though comparing income statistics to housing prices makes me think those "standards" are entirely illusory, which is a major reason I started this poll; to see how other people really live.

[Edit: Typo, also add property value.]
Last edited by Pfhorrest on Wed May 14, 2014 6:33 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Whizbang » Wed May 14, 2014 6:19 pm UTC

I selected "Rent from family". I live with my wife and two sons in the home of my Parents'-in-Law. We "rent" the upper floor. We don't actually pay rent, but we do pay half/most of the groceries, half of the utilities, all of the phone/computer/cable, I do most/all of the household maintenance, etc. My wife's parents are in their mid to late 70's and probably couldn't pay upkeep on the house despite the fact they own it outright (well, with a home equity line). They look after my sons during the day while my wife and I work. My wife is the only child and so will inherit the house when her parents pass on. In all, it just seemed like a good idea to live with them to help each other out.

The house is small, each room is approx. 10'x10'. There are four bedrooms upstairs, one downstairs, a small living room and a large(in comparison with the rest of the house) kitchen/dining room that takes up half of the downstairs. There are no closets in the house. We have two bathrooms, one upstairs and one down. The upstairs one is about the size of a broom closet (just barely enough room for a shower, a toilet and a sink(no counter space, just a sink). The downstairs one is larger and doubles as a laundry room. The downstairs bathroom is actually an add-on to the original footprint of the house, which had no bathroom downstairs. The house is 100+ years old. Originally the house had no bathroom, just an outhouse down the hill a bit. We just had it appraised for a home equity loan to do some repair work on the house. It appraised for $130,000.

Our lot is small was well. Actually, we are grandfathered in to the zoning laws. If we were to tear down the house, we would not be able to rebuild because the house is too big for the lot and too close to the property lines. That said, we do most of our living outdoors when the weather is nice. We eat out on the deck as much as possible and spend a lot of time in the screen house.

Such a small living space means we sometimes rub each other the wrong way. In the 10 years I've lived here there hasn't been any outright fights, but definitely some tongues have been bitten to prevent them. Also, my wife's father, like many old people, has lost his filter on his speech. He often speaks out against gays and blacks. That has lead to quite a few angry discussions. He agrees that racism is bad, but does not see anything wrong with using the "N word" or hating Obama because he is black.

Location: New Hampshire, USA
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Married (2 kids)
Education: High School Diploma and some college (computer science)
Personal Yearly Income: $36k
Wife's income: $28k
Wife's Education: MBA

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby natraj » Wed May 14, 2014 6:33 pm UTC

the rental options on this poll seem strange to me. i rent one room of my own in a large house together with many roommates, but none of them are strangers, we're mostly all quite good friends.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed May 14, 2014 6:40 pm UTC

I rent a home with my fiance, so, that's not exactly 'on my own'.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 14, 2014 6:42 pm UTC

natraj wrote:the rental options on this poll seem strange to me. i rent one room of my own in a large house together with many roommates, but none of them are strangers, we're mostly all quite good friends.

"Strangers" is meant to indicate people who are not family in either the sense of the family you grew up with (parents and siblings), or the family you've created around yourself (spouses and children). I'm not sure what a better word for that would be; I didn't want to break it down further by how well you know or like the people who share your home with, just to draw a line between family/not-family. Either way I don't think I can change the poll retroactively, so maybe I should just add an additional clarification to the first post.

I rent a home with my fiance, so, that's not exactly 'on my own'.

If you note the clarifications at the top of the first post, 'your own' includes significant others and dependents, like your fiancé.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Chen » Wed May 14, 2014 6:51 pm UTC

Maybe I misinterpreted, but I put the condo one, but I'm pretty sure I own a portion of the land the condo is on as well (definitely the small backyard area that is mine). That said, I'm 33, working as an engineer for the last 7 years, graduated 2 years before that with a Masters Degree in Aerospace engineering. I've only had the condo for a little under a year now, in downtown Montreal. I am extremely pleased with my living situation. The value of my place is similar to the couple of peers who own their own place. It's a fair bit above the average value for a home on the island of Montreal though I imagine it's only a little bit above the average for the downtown core.

Prices in popular areas are always going to be high. Not everyone will be able to afford to live in the best place. At which point you have the option of renting or buying in a cheaper area. I don't feel there's a problem with this. I don't necessarily think everyone needs to own their own home. Hell my grandparents have rented their whole lives, just because they don't want to have to deal with the hassle of taxes and repairs. Renting is definitely viable, especially here in Quebec where the laws are VERY in favor of the tenants. I imagine if there are place with more lax tenant laws, it might not be as viable.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby speising » Wed May 14, 2014 6:55 pm UTC

why no "own an apartment" option? which i'm considering right now, although it is not clear that this is financially better than renting. there are online calculators which show that it completely depends on the various interest rates assumed.
edit: or is that what you call a condo? but i wouldn't pay any rent for the land as far as i'm aware.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Brace » Wed May 14, 2014 7:02 pm UTC

This post had objectionable content.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 14, 2014 7:08 pm UTC

speising wrote:why no "own an apartment" option? which i'm considering right now, although it is not clear that this is financially better than renting. there are online calculators which show that it completely depends on the various interest rates assumed.

I think that might be a regional terminological difference. Around my area if an apartment-like place (one separate living area in a building with many of them) is usually called a "condo" if it's for sale, even if the same kind of space for rent would be called an "apartment". And you usually don't own the land the condo is built on, similar to a mobile home. But I know there's a lot of regional variation in the kinds of housing available, so I made the last two options say "home" instead of "house" to include the possibility of a condo/apartment, mobile home, etc, where you do own the land too.

If you're mortgaging an apartment-like place and will have to keep paying to live there even after it's paid off, I'd select the 4th from last option; otherwise, select the 2nd to last option.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Envelope Generator » Wed May 14, 2014 7:16 pm UTC

Renting a studio apartment in northern Europe. 25 m2, €560 a month. Single household, in my thirties, university education. There is simply no way I'll ever afford an apartment.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed May 14, 2014 7:24 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:My answers: I currently own (free and clear) a small 1bd, <500sqft mobile home on rented land in Ojai, CA. I paid $15k for it in a distressed sale, and am told by different sources it is worth either $25k or $45k. Rent is controlled down to $500/mo plus utilities. I turn 32 this year, have had a Bachelor's degree for the past 7 years, and make about $47k/yr now. I have lived here for almost one year. For almost ten years prior to that I rented my own bedroom in an old 4bd/2ba house full of constantly-changing strangers (three to four of them at a time) in Goleta, CA. Prior to that I lived for free in a tool shed on my father's property next to his mobile home on its own land (mortgaged), also here in Ojai, CA.

How I feel about it? I think in an equitable society the entire working class of every income level should have reasonable opportunity to own their own home on its own land. I feel trapped into paying rent forever and am desperately struggling to eventually start buying something on land of its own. I seem to be farther ahead in that respect, owning my own mobile home as I do, than any of my own peers, but I feel like I am still well behind society's standards. Though comparing income statistics to housing prices makes me think those "standards" are entirely illusory, which is a major reason I started this poll; to see how other people really live.

[Edit: Typo, also add property value.]


Well, I rent a townhouse. I have previously owned, but hey, divorce. Still, my current place is nice, and I'm satisfied with it for the time being. I have no roommate, though I have given friends short term places to crash once or twice, because hey, extra bedroom I never use. Not really looking to sublet because it's a hassle, and I've had some serious issues with deadbeat roomies before. With the right person, it works out well, but there's a lot of trust involved, and some folks don't even make a good faith effort. It's discouraging. As for other indicators, I am 31, and am fairly successful as a software engineer/small business owner. Costs almost $1500/mo.

A lot of it comes down to location. My 'lil brother paid 50k for his SFH in the midwest. Own lot and everything. Not a huge home, but hey. Around here, $50k won't even buy you a bare lot. Shit, townhouses pretty much start at a quarter of a mil. This makes buying challenging. I took my initial foray into home ownership on the basis of strong desire from my S/O, purchasing in 2006. This was roughly as bad a financial decision as you'd expect. She wanted to keep in the divorce, though, so...all hers. Pretty much wrote the money invested off as a lost cause, because it was stupid underwater anyway.

I might buy again, but I'm in no real hurry, especially given the ludicrous prices around here. I also, when paying the rent, have occasional pangs of regret for the times when I lived *very* cheaply in a rented room or the like. Keeping housing expenses to a minimum is friggin' huge for quality of life.

I may one day move to GA or somewhere with reasonable tax rates and housing prices before buying. I keep looking at it, but can't really move until I've got my biz running basically entirely on autopilot.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby LinuxPenguin » Wed May 14, 2014 10:06 pm UTC

I rent an apartment of my own.

Nice one too. Single bedroom, just under 700 sq ft, and five minutes from my office. :D
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby SecondTalon » Wed May 14, 2014 11:35 pm UTC

For purposes of figuring out how other people are, my situation is likely unique enough to be useless.

Spoiler:
My brother and I own a 145ish acre farm on which my mother currently lives. That's where we grew up. I currently live in a free and clear house on something like a quarter to a third of an acre.

I have no idea what that'd be in useful metric conversions. Hell, I don't know what that is in useful square mile conversions.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 14, 2014 11:51 pm UTC

ST, I'd say that puts you squarely in the last category, and is plenty helpful. I am curious, if I may ask, how you and your brother ended up owning the land you grew up on if (at least) one of your parents is still alive, as I'd assume they owned it when you were growing up and don't see why they'd sell/gift it to you guys while still alive instead of just letting you inherit it eventually. I'm also curious about where you are, geographically, to have that much land; Montana or Wyoming or somewhere around there, I would guess?
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Whizbang » Thu May 15, 2014 1:03 am UTC

A quarter acre is pretty small by rural standards. 1,011m2, according to Google. I don't know where ST is. A quarter acre is about the size of a typical lot in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I grew up. It isn't that big. When we moved to New Hampshire, my parents got a house with 5 acres of land, and this wasn't atypical of the size of properties in the area. Nothing but trees and rocks, but land. My lot, that I described being too small to rebuild our small house, is maybe a quarter to a third acre.

According to this report, that is well under most minimums for the state:

For each community, the survey looked at the minimum lot sizes required in each zoning
district for single family, two family, and multi-family dwelling units. The survey found that in
slightly more than half of the survey communities, the smallest lot size on which a single-family
home could be built is a minimum of at least 1 acre but less than 3 acres. However, 41% of the
survey communities have at least one zoning district where the smallest lot size on which a
single-family home could be built is under 1 acre, given the minimum size requirements. More
than half of the survey communities have at least one zoning district where the smallest
minimum lot size required for a two- or three-family home is under 1 acre per unit. Thus, a
considerable number of communities do have minimum lot size requirements that could be
considered “small,” namely under 1 acre per unit, but “larger” minimum lot size requirements,
namely above 1 acre per unit, are common as well.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby eSOANEM » Thu May 15, 2014 1:09 am UTC

I have my room in a block of student accommodation. I know everyone in the block (about 45 people) by face at least, many by name and a few more familiarly. I rent it from my college. Not sure what the closest option in the poll is.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 15, 2014 1:12 am UTC

Whizbang wrote:A quarter acre is pretty small by rural standards.

I meant the 145 acre farm. Setting aside a quarter acre of it to build a house on is not decadent, surely, but having that much land at your disposal (even if you're not using much of it for housing) still seems impressive.

eSOANEM wrote:I have my room in a block of student accommodation. I know everyone in the block (about 45 people) by face at least, many by name and a few more familiarly. I rent it from my college. Not sure what the closest option in the poll is.

I'd say either "your own apartment" or "room in a house of strangers" (leaning toward the former, I think), or "room shared with strangers" if you share the room with another person (as most student dorms in the US do). See the clarification in the first post that "strangers" is just the best word I could think of for "people who aren't in any sense family".

I'm actually surprised nobody has yet answered "room shared with strangers". In Goleta I lived very close to the student community of Isla Vista next to UCSB, and the vast majority of my peers when I was in school would have answered that way. I figured that was the typical college student experience around the country. (Though out in IV it could get completely ridiculous, with people paying $1000/mo to split a room with one or two other people, who themselves each paid another $1000/mo, in a house with three to five such shared bedrooms, thus cramming six to fifteen people in one single family house charging $6000-15000 a month to house those people. Compared to those poor schmucks I felt lucky paying half their rents to get an entire bedroom all to myself just a little further from school).
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Isaac Hill » Thu May 15, 2014 1:44 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I took my initial foray into home ownership on the basis of strong desire from my S/O, purchasing in 2006. This was roughly as bad a financial decision as you'd expect.
I know how you feel. I bought my house in 2007. I waited until I had a 20% down payment saved, and paid roughly what the town appraised the house at. A few months later, I got the next appraisal, and my down payment had gone away. I did manage to pay it off entirely a couple months ago, though, so I'm the last option in the poll.

As for the OP's complaint about having to pay rent forever, there's no real way around that. Even owning the house, I still have property taxes and homeowner's insurance, which comes to around $450/month, almost what you pay in lot rent. Unless you can find somewhere with no property taxes, and are willing to risk your home to fire/earthquake/whatever damage, you'll always have to pay some periodic amount. It's not rent, but it's pretty similar.

And the people asking where ST lives should check the Location field. He lives on Mars, which has low demand for residential areas because the commute is a pain in the ass.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 15, 2014 3:10 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:ST, I'd say that puts you squarely in the last category, and is plenty helpful. I am curious, if I may ask, how you and your brother ended up owning the land you grew up on if (at least) one of your parents is still alive, as I'd assume they owned it when you were growing up and don't see why they'd sell/gift it to you guys while still alive instead of just letting you inherit it eventually. I'm also curious about where you are, geographically, to have that much land; Montana or Wyoming or somewhere around there, I would guess?

Kentucky. And my mother never owned the land, just my father. Both my parents have wills that were written when my brother and I were young (I'm not even sure if I was referenced by name, just as "future children") in which Dad left the properties explocitly to my brother and I on the assumtion they'd die in their 80s or whatever. Dad died at 41. So at 11 and 13, by brother and I became landowners.

And Kentucky. It's also not really that much land - you can walk the circumference in.. I dunno, an hour? That's..... not really that big, as farms go.

At any rate, I wasn't sure if the Own but Rent option was also covering landlord arrangements as until about five years ago, we rented out the old farmhouse.

But mostly what Issac Hill said. Come to Mars. Land's just pesos an acre.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 15, 2014 3:49 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:And Kentucky. It's also not really that much land - you can walk the circumference in.. I dunno, an hour? That's..... not really that big, as farms go.
145 acres is close to half a mile squared, which is about a quarter the size of my entire neighborhood, which in addition to about three dozen blocks of suburban housing and small businesses also contains 4-5 ranches and orchards each about half a dozen blocks in size, which to my mind are veritable mansion estates. So while I'm sure there are much larger farms out there, from my perspective that's still pretty big.

At any rate, I wasn't sure if the Own but Rent option was also covering landlord arrangements as until about five years ago, we rented out the old farmhouse.

I interpret that to mean that you had renters and you were the landlord, in which case no, the Own but Rent options aren't meant to cover that, just situations where while one may technically be a homeowner, they still aren't a landowner and thus still pay rent to live somewhere, even if it's in something they own. Like me in my mobile home that I own "free and clear" yet still paying the same rent I always have (though getting twice as much home for that price than I did renting a room in someone else's house).
Last edited by Pfhorrest on Thu May 15, 2014 3:56 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 15, 2014 3:51 am UTC

I think your conversion's off. All the converters and figures I see have 145 acres being .22something square miles. Not even a quarter. So half of what you're thinking.

At any rate, it's somewhere between small and medium, with medium capping out in the 500 acre range (+/- 50), and large being above that.

Sure, it's fucking huge compared to the suburbs. But as a farm goes? If you worked it, your spouse would also need a job.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby somehow » Thu May 15, 2014 3:56 am UTC

I think when Pfhorrest said "half a mile squared", they may have meant (.5 miles)^2.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 15, 2014 4:01 am UTC

Possibly! I'm fuckawful with mathematic notation.

.....

Is that the same as .25 square miles? Because I'd call that a quarter square mile.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 15, 2014 4:36 am UTC

Yeah, half a mile squared = (0.5 miles)^2 = a quarter square mile = 0.25 (miles^2)

I described it the (admittedly confusing) way I did because I started thinking about the comparison in terms of your description of how long it took to walk the perimeter, which I was comparing to the 1.5 hours it takes me to walk the 4.5 mile perimeter of my neighborhood at an average pace. Then I didn't actually do the calculations that way when I realized pace was an unspecified factor and it was way easier to just convert 145 acres to 6,316,200 square feet, take the square root of that to get 2,513 feet per side, which is close to half a mile, so, about half a mile squared, which is about a quarter square mile, and thus about a quarter the size of my neighborhood which is about a mile per side.

The perimeter of your farm should take about 40 minutes to walk at an average 3mph pace btw :-) Man I would love to be able to take my daily walks entirely on my own property, even if I did have to do two laps to do so. Walking public streets with traffic and smokers is the bane of my existence.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu May 15, 2014 4:56 am UTC

The problem with knowing a place is knowing a place. We're it flat and the creek not there... Sure, 40. With that stuff and the undergrowth and so on? An hour.

At any rate, the driveway was for walking. It's about a mile long.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby eSOANEM » Thu May 15, 2014 12:27 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:I have my room in a block of student accommodation. I know everyone in the block (about 45 people) by face at least, many by name and a few more familiarly. I rent it from my college. Not sure what the closest option in the poll is.

I'd say either "your own apartment" or "room in a house of strangers" (leaning toward the former, I think), or "room shared with strangers" if you share the room with another person (as most student dorms in the US do). See the clarification in the first post that "strangers" is just the best word I could think of for "people who aren't in any sense family".


Ah, I missed that clarification. I went with room in home shared with strangers.

It's not an apartment (it is literally just one room and has shared bathrooms). Home seems like an odd description because 45 people seems too many for a home.

I don't get the whole sharing a room thing. It's really unusual here in the UK (I think some of the london universities do it, but otherwise it's pretty much unheard of) and, with much higher population density and land prices in general, it'd make more sense here than in the states.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby UniqueScreenname » Thu May 15, 2014 1:17 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:My answers: I currently own (free and clear) a small 1bd, <500sqft mobile home on rented land in Ojai, CA. I paid $15k for it in a distressed sale, and am told by different sources it is worth either $25k or $45k. Rent is controlled down to $500/mo plus utilities. I turn 32 this year, have had a Bachelor's degree for the past 7 years, and make about $47k/yr now. I have lived here for almost one year. For almost ten years prior to that I rented my own bedroom in an old 4bd/2ba house full of constantly-changing strangers (three to four of them at a time) in Goleta, CA. Prior to that I lived for free in a tool shed on my father's property next to his mobile home on its own land (mortgaged), also here in Ojai, CA.

How I feel about it? I think in an equitable society the entire working class of every income level should have reasonable opportunity to own their own home on its own land. I feel trapped into paying rent forever and am desperately struggling to eventually start buying something on land of its own. I seem to be farther ahead in that respect, owning my own mobile home as I do, than any of my own peers, but I feel like I am still well behind society's standards. Though comparing income statistics to housing prices makes me think those "standards" are entirely illusory, which is a major reason I started this poll; to see how other people really live.

[Edit: Typo, also add property value.]

This is essentially what I think I want in a few years. A few questions: do you anticipate moving lots? Do you know what that will involve? What sort of daily needs does a mobile home involve that a normal house does not?
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby elminster » Thu May 15, 2014 2:15 pm UTC

I guess "Live for free with family" fits best, more accurately live in deceased grandparents home tied up in a 6 year legal battle (Soon to be 8 as it's going to the UK supreme court). Technically I own a notable portion of it, so I could say it's mine. I don't pay rent, but non-family members in the house do. Facebook would have an "It's complicated" selection for this.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby ahammel » Thu May 15, 2014 2:21 pm UTC

Rent an apartment with the wife. It's small and expensive, but we can both walk to work inside of ten minutes.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby JBJ » Thu May 15, 2014 3:05 pm UTC

I checked own, free and clear. Although we do still have a mortgage, it'll be paid off in less than 3 years. We technically have enough savings/investments to pay it off now, but the return interest on the savings is higher than the interest on the mortgage, so why bother?

Location: Florida, east coast.
I live in a semi-suburban/rural area. I'm on the outskirts of the built-up area. Lots of vacant, wooded lots. No traffic.
Single family; myself, wife, and 1 child. Age, 40. Household income, $120K (me $90K, wife $30K). House value is about $150K.
House info: 1,400 sq ft, 3 bed/2 bath, pool, on .3 acre lot. Built new in 2003
Education; both wife and I had some college when we built. We have both since returned and completed our degrees.

So I've got to preface my story with some big caveats; where I'm at now, satisfaction-wise, is based on my family situation and from having been in the same place for the last 11 years. It's also dependent on larger events that have happened over that period. There are a lot of "what-if's" that could have drastically changed things.

Spoiler:
Prior history:
When I moved out of my parent's house, I had roommates for 2 years that were friends from high school. That was from ages 19-21. I then lived on my own, in various apartments, for about 5 years. When I met my wife, I moved in with her into a house she rented from her mother. We stayed there for about 2 years while we saved and planned for our own house.

Current situation:
We built new in 2003 right at the beginning of the housing boom. Home values exploded over the next few years. By 2006, our house was appraised at nearly 3x what we initially paid. I'm glad we didn't succumb to temptation and upgrade or take out huge sums of artificial equity. We did refinance and took out a line of credit, but we managed it well. I was also fortunate to advance my career quite a lot. When we first moved in, housing expenses were about 30% of our gross income. Now it's less than 10% (although we pay more to bring the loan down faster). If I had stuck where I was at when we first bought and just gotten cost of living raises, I'd be in a much different situation. There'd be a much larger balance hanging over me and even the idea of owning free and clear would be at least another decade away.

So, yeah... I'm quite happy. Compared to most people of my age and family situation, I'm doing very well. Many of my peers got caught in the bubble and tried to live beyond their means or at least right up to the edge. Many are mortgaged to the hilt or waaaay underwater. I know more than a few people that have had foreclosures or short sales.

For me, it comes down to whether I feel settled or not. I'm settled now, and I'm happy in my house. But... it's not just the house that makes me feel settled. It's my family. The house helps because it complements my family. Without my family, my house would feel unsettled. Without the house, my family would feel unsettled. What works for us is the feeling of having a space we can call our own. I might be happier with a larger property, and I could probably manage with a smaller one too. The shared space of an owned condo/townhouse might be tolerable, but there'd be a yearning for a larger separation.

When I was single, I thought I was going to be stuck with rent forever too. I started looking at houses, but in hindsight I feel that would have been a mistake if I had committed to a house at the time. Renting was right for me in that situation because it gave me the freedom to move when I needed to.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Ormurinn » Thu May 15, 2014 4:08 pm UTC

I rent a tiny subdivision of an old house with my GF. I checked "apartment" as we have our own bathroom and a locking door, but it's really a house. This is in a northern city in the U.K.

It's a miserable place but were on a very tight budget. I'm a 2nd year student, but work 1/4 of the year at a firm in a job directly related to my degree. GF works part time at a fast food place.

We're never going to be able to buy a house in the U.K as there's cross-party consensus on inflating yet another housing bubble. Fortunately I have an in-demand skillset. Just a matter of biding our time and picking which part of the commonwealth/USA to move to.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Enuja » Thu May 15, 2014 5:28 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
  • "Your own" here means to include any spouse or significant other and any children or dependents of your own, any kind of nuclear-family-like structure with you in a parent-like role. As opposed to, say, you and some friend rent a 2bd apartment and each get one bedroom with a shared commons, or you rent out a 4bd house and sublet out three of the rooms, etc.
  • "Strangers" here means anyone who is not family in either sense; people who are neither parents and siblings etc, nor spouses and children etc, no matter how well you know or like them.
Pfhorrest wrote:"Strangers" is meant to indicate people who are not family in either the sense of the family you grew up with (parents and siblings), or the family you've created around yourself (spouses and children). I'm not sure what a better word for that would be; I didn't want to break it down further by how well you know or like the people who share your home with, just to draw a line between family/not-family. Either way I don't think I can change the poll retroactively, so maybe I should just add an additional clarification to the first post.
I want to create a family with more than two adults, and I don't want it restricted to people I'm having, or have had, sex with. I really don't think that romantic relationships are the best, or the only, way for adults to create new family.

I quite solidly fit into the "rent a room in a house with strangers" category, but I object to the way you've split family from non-family. I know a lot of people are looking for a significant other to build a life with, to own a home with. I'm not. Instead, I'm looking for friends, for housemates, for fellow co-op members to share my housing with. And I'm having about as much luck as many lonely single people, pining for a significant other. Right now I'm living with people I met on Craig's List and through friends of friends, and they aren't going to be my family of choice. I've been married, and lived with my spouse and no other roommates, but have no desire to ever do that again. Ideally, I'd like to have my sister as part of my home living unit, but given our differences in ideal location (I want to live in the city, she in rural areas, I want to live in a co-op like home situation but do something else for my job, she wants to live in an income-sharing intentional community, where the job and the roommates are the same thing), that probably isn't going to happen.

This all might seem like something of a tangent, but I don't think it is. Pfhorrest apparently started this thread because they're frustrated with not yet owning their own home for their own nuclear family, with that being a large economic hurdle. I think that the goal is misguided, on the societal level. I think it wastes resources, makes people lonely, and cuts down our support network to an unsustainably small size to live in groups of just two adult humans. Humans lived in larger families, with more people to care for children and share meals with and take care of land than just two people. The idea that each "man" should own their own castle (and their own children and wife), that each nuclear family should be an independent economic unit that owns its own land and house, is simply a bad way to run a society. We shouldn't waste the resources on that. So I'm not sad when people can't afford to own their own homes, when people live with roommates and share their lives with "strangers," creating more social ties of support.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Chen » Thu May 15, 2014 5:43 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:This all might seem like something of a tangent, but I don't think it is. Pfhorrest apparently started this thread because they're frustrated with not yet owning their own home for their own nuclear family, with that being a large economic hurdle. I think that the goal is misguided, on the societal level. I think it wastes resources, makes people lonely, and cuts down our support network to an unsustainably small size to live in groups of just two adult humans. Humans lived in larger families, with more people to care for children and share meals with and take care of land than just two people. The idea that each "man" should own their own castle (and their own children and wife), that each nuclear family should be an independent economic unit that owns its own land and house, is simply a bad way to run a society. We shouldn't waste the resources on that. So I'm not sad when people can't afford to own their own homes, when people live with roommates and share their lives with "strangers," creating more social ties of support.


Did humans live in larger groups before because that's what they liked better or because it was necessary? Eventually the standard of two adult humans (generally in a relationship) living in a home themselves became more prominent. The question becomes why? I'm sure tradition is a large factor for why we do it NOW, but presumably the initial transition from more communal living to more individualistic living had a reason in and of itself. Personally I like living with fewer people rather than more. There's less chance for conflict.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 15, 2014 5:44 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Ah, I missed that clarification. I went with room in home shared with strangers.

It's not an apartment (it is literally just one room and has shared bathrooms). Home seems like an odd description because 45 people seems too many for a home.

Ok yeah, that sounds like the right selection. I suppose "building" might have been a better choice of wording. The idea was a scale of how much spatial privacy you have:
  • None, other people are in your every space. (Shared room).
  • You have some space to yourself but have to share other spaces with others. (Room in shared home).
  • You have a whole functional space to yourself, but in the same building as others. (Apartment).
  • You have a whole functional space to yourself completely separate from any others. (House).
In retrospect it might have been nicer, if it were possible, to have a scale of options like that, but split the last into two:
  • You have a whole functional space to yourself completely separate from any others, but on shared land. (Mobile home [etc?]).
  • You have a whole functional space to yourself completely separate from any others, on its own land. (Real house).
And then crossed that with another scale, asking how much financial control you have of that space:
  • You live in it at the whim of a beneficiary. (Live for free).
  • You pay for the temporary right to live there. (Rent).
  • You own it, but it's leveraged against a debt. (Mortgage).
  • You own and owe nothing but property taxes. (Free and clear).
  • You own it and don't even owe property taxes. (Allodial title).
But I don't think phpbb supports "pick one from each list" type of polls.

UniqueScreenname wrote:This is essentially what I think I want in a few years. A few questions: do you anticipate moving lots?

Only if I can find an empty lot that I can afford to buy. Preferably one big enough to fit at least two of my mobile home on, so I can park it on half of it, build a tiny stub of a house (the size of the MH) on the other half, then sell the MH and expand the real house to the rest of the lot.

In theory I might also move lots if I found a lot that had much cheaper rent, or gave me much more for my rent (like a yard, or a pool maybe), but those are both unlikely, and even if I found them, there's cost and risk involved in moving that I'd have to weigh against how much longer I'd plan to stay there, seeing as how I'm looking to get out of here as soon as possible (but that might be anywhere from "next year" to "next decade" so who knows).

Do you know what that will involve?

From what I understand, you pay a professional crew a few thousand dollars, and hope they don't break your house in the process. You probably also want to box up everything that's not tied down like you were moving it out, and then unpack at the new destination.

What sort of daily needs does a mobile home involve that a normal house does not?

Nothing daily that's I've yet experienced or been told. I'm told that keeping the exterior paint up can be really important depending on what kind of siding you have, because many mobile homes have a faux-wood particleboard siding which pretty much melts if it gets wet, so you have to make sure the paint job is watertight. You could of course replace it with better siding to avoid that problem. Floors can also be made of the same cheap stuff sometimes and so begin to sag if you frequently have water on the inside. Mine have apparently been replaced with more solid plywood flooring before I bought it. Other than that, and being really small, it seems just like an ordinary house.

JBJ wrote:[I checked own, free and clear. [...]

This is the kind of success story I wish that I could tell, and that I think everyone deserves to tell. Get into a nice real house on its own land around 30, be paid off by around 40, have a safe and secure and settled space for your family. (That "settled" feeling is the thing that I want the most. I feel like so long as I'm having to pay to stay in someone else's space, I'm not "settled", I have to keep working and fighting to secure my own space and can't just relax and enjoy life). I would love to buy a cheap empty lot in the woods on the outskirts of a built-up area -- that kind of location describes my hometown pretty well, actually -- and build my own new home there. Unfortunately around here I've seen empty lots like that selling for more than your whole finished house is worth, which would take me 15 years of mortgaged-to-the-hilt to pay off before I could even start building; that is, if anyone gave mortgages on empty lots which apparently they don't.

@Enuja: I support the choice to live the way that you want to, and if the people you live with are close enough to you that you'd truly consider them "family", even if they're not the traditional reproductively-defined nuclear family, then I'd say go ahead and check the option that best describes your family's living situation. You guys have a house all to yourselves? Check the "house" option (rent, or own, or whatever applies to you). I just mean to distinguish against situations like I've lived in, where I needed someone else to fill an empty room in a house I lived in just to afford the rent, not because I wanted the company, and so I invited a friend I knew, but it's not like we were life partners, and he could (and did) move away and somebody I've never met could (and did) take over his spot on the lease and it wouldn't be (wasn't) like a heavy divorce or something.

I also don't think that society should be structured in a way that forces people into small isolated units against their will. I just think that should be an option for anyone who wants it. Some people like privacy and isolation, others like being in the middle of a bunch of people all the time. I hated being stuck in the middle of a bunch of other people's business (especially since they weren't people I got to carefully choose; I just had to find someone, anyone, with a few weeks' notice, or else pay double the rent or get kicked out of my home, over and over and over again for years) as much as it sounds like you would hate being in a big house all by yourself. I think everybody should have the choice of whichever suits them, and I'm frustrated at the difficulty in realizing my choice.
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu May 15, 2014 5:59 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:ST, I'd say that puts you squarely in the last category, and is plenty helpful. I am curious, if I may ask, how you and your brother ended up owning the land you grew up on if (at least) one of your parents is still alive, as I'd assume they owned it when you were growing up and don't see why they'd sell/gift it to you guys while still alive instead of just letting you inherit it eventually. I'm also curious about where you are, geographically, to have that much land; Montana or Wyoming or somewhere around there, I would guess?


If it helps, growing up on a farm, I had a similar offer from my parents. It's not uncommon. I'm not really the farming sort, so I declined, but for rural folks, it seems to be particularly common. The lower cost of land, etc no doubt helps as well there.

Urban and rural approaches to land differ greatly. What constitutes a "lot of space" is wildly different. Me, I'm happy my townhouse is an end unit. In midwest farming country, the big farms were those with many "quarters"(A square measuring a quarter mile on each side).

Ormurinn wrote:I rent a tiny subdivision of an old house with my GF. I checked "apartment" as we have our own bathroom and a locking door, but it's really a house. This is in a northern city in the U.K.

It's a miserable place but were on a very tight budget. I'm a 2nd year student, but work 1/4 of the year at a firm in a job directly related to my degree. GF works part time at a fast food place.

We're never going to be able to buy a house in the U.K as there's cross-party consensus on inflating yet another housing bubble. Fortunately I have an in-demand skillset. Just a matter of biding our time and picking which part of the commonwealth/USA to move to.


Should be able to get a good bit of advice on here, I'd warrant...but most areas should be significantly more affordable than the UK. Really, if you can manage it, it's not a bad strategy to work and save in a small apartment in a high income place, then move to a lower income/Cost of living place to buy.

Enuja wrote:This all might seem like something of a tangent, but I don't think it is. Pfhorrest apparently started this thread because they're frustrated with not yet owning their own home for their own nuclear family, with that being a large economic hurdle. I think that the goal is misguided, on the societal level. I think it wastes resources, makes people lonely, and cuts down our support network to an unsustainably small size to live in groups of just two adult humans. Humans lived in larger families, with more people to care for children and share meals with and take care of land than just two people. The idea that each "man" should own their own castle (and their own children and wife), that each nuclear family should be an independent economic unit that owns its own land and house, is simply a bad way to run a society. We shouldn't waste the resources on that. So I'm not sad when people can't afford to own their own homes, when people live with roommates and share their lives with "strangers," creating more social ties of support.


Meh. People have long sought a degree of privacy for their family. The big trend has been for large and larger houses as society gets better. Look at old construction houses sometime, many of the dimensions feel uncomfortably small to modern sensibilities.

You don't NEED to buy a huge SFH though. It's great if you can, but you can be reasonably independent/private without going in for size. There's a tiny house movement that's interesting to me. Minimizing ongoing expenses via a small, private home seems...good for avoiding stress. Perhaps this will become a more popular alternative means of acheiving the goal for those who prefer a paucity of roomies.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Enuja » Thu May 15, 2014 6:15 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Did humans live in larger groups before because that's what they liked better or because it was necessary? Eventually the standard of two adult humans (generally in a relationship) living in a home themselves became more prominent. The question becomes why? I'm sure tradition is a large factor for why we do it NOW, but presumably the initial transition from more communal living to more individualistic living had a reason in and of itself. Personally I like living with fewer people rather than more. There's less chance for conflict.
Capitalist measures of success and independence within the last 100 years. Before that, living with extended family, and with servants that were part of the economic unit (and often started their own household with its own servants after working for others for 10 or more years), was much more the norm.

If you want to live alone, rent a small studio apartment in a big building. That way you're communally sharing resources (building heat, numbers of sidewalks per bed, unused lawn), and yet you still have your own space. Or have your own tiny house in a small, dense, walking village surrounded by space. There are many options to have your own space and independence without living in a detached single family home where you own the large lot.

@Pfhorrest
No, I'm not living in my ideal situation. Right now, I'm renting an apartment with roommates who aren't very closely tied to me, personally, so the option in your poll quite accurately describes me. I'm suffering the same roommate issues you did, and I'm considering renting a small studio in the medium term instead of sharing space. But there is no option in your poll that accurately describes my eventual goal.

I think there are tons of good options for living in your own space: I just don't think that individual ownership of land is the best way to structure that. And I think the universal expected goal of single-family independence makes people think they want something that is not actually making them happy.

@Tyndmyr
I think the trend for larger and larger houses has been not as society gets better but as conspicuous consumption gets more fashionable. I do not think it's "great" that some people can buy huge single family homes. I think it puts a burden on society as a whole, and I think the people in the huge, empty houses don't actually feel any happier. Sure, these people might be happiest with a lot of privacy, but you don't need empty space for privacy, just a little bit of private space. In some ways I think we agree: we both independently wrote about tiny houses. But you seem to think it makes sense to value more and larger private, owned personal space as progress, and I think it is alienation and waste instead of progress.

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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 15, 2014 6:40 pm UTC

Regarding tiny houses, I think those are a great idea and fit in well with my ideal. I don't expect every single 20-something to ever be able to have their own huge 4bd/2ba SFH on a lot three times the size of the house, and yeah that would be a lot of wasted space. I'm OK with the size of my MH (<500sqft) as far as space for one person to live goes, and those tiny concept houses people are doing these days are about the same size and really neat looking. The only thing that bothers me space-wise about my current situation is that the MHs are so close together; there's just a narrow footpath and then immediately the wall of another MH, so unless I want my neighbors looking straight out their windows into my windows and into my house, I've got to keep the place shuttered up all of the time. If there were just a little bit of yard, enough for me to plant some bamboo or some other visibility barrier on the edge, I could open my windows to see greenery and sky without also seeing my neighbor's living room (or more importantly, them seeing mine), and I would be perfectly happy, space-wise, as far as my own needs go. (Still disappointed I wouldn't have room for another person of my choice to live with me, but one extra room would fix that and not add that much space. A driveway and garage would also be nice, and I'd happily sacrifice half the hypothetical yard for those).

[Tangent: I love to make a joke, whenever I see a garage sale sign, that I should stop by there and buy a garage -- but that I'd first have to find a yard sale somewhere, to buy a yard to put that garage in].

One of the things I find frustrating and disappointing is the unavailability of such tiny stand-alone housing. If I want something that I don't have to keep paying for and isn't part of some other lot/building that's not mine (which is usually why I would have to keep paying for it), it seems like I've got to buy way more house than I need. If there were a lot more tiny cheap houses, a lot of what frustrates me would go away.

The other, orthogonal issue, more important to me socially than the privacy issue, is the matter of financial independence. I don't think it's right that we just expect everybody to pay someone else continually forever for the privilege of not being homeless (especially as being homeless is effectively illegal itself). I think society would be far more just and equitable, and a lot of the excesses of capitalism lessened, if everyone had reasonable opportunity to obtain a secure space of their own, however small, that they couldn't be kicked out of no matter how broke they went. Just that tiny little bit of security would make such a huge difference and I think it would transform society for the better.
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Enuja
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Enuja » Thu May 15, 2014 7:35 pm UTC

I don't agree that owning a home is a good safety net. Even if you own a place, you have to pay taxes, you have to pay insurance, and you have to keep paying upkeep. My mom bought a house. And then a hurricane came through and put a tree on her roof. Yes, she had insurance, but homeowner's insurance is not free. It takes money to keep buying food, to buy clean water, and to keep any living situation in a good, supportive society (taxes) and to do the continuous upkeep a safe and secure living place provides. Often, rent is the best and cheapest long term way to pay the inevitable costs of a having a place to live.

But I do hope that, in addition to having more collective living spaces, our society starts to have more affordable tiny houses.

Tyndmyr
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Re: What is your current housing situation?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu May 15, 2014 7:40 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:
Chen wrote:Did humans live in larger groups before because that's what they liked better or because it was necessary? Eventually the standard of two adult humans (generally in a relationship) living in a home themselves became more prominent. The question becomes why? I'm sure tradition is a large factor for why we do it NOW, but presumably the initial transition from more communal living to more individualistic living had a reason in and of itself. Personally I like living with fewer people rather than more. There's less chance for conflict.
Capitalist measures of success and independence within the last 100 years. Before that, living with extended family, and with servants that were part of the economic unit (and often started their own household with its own servants after working for others for 10 or more years), was much more the norm.

If you want to live alone, rent a small studio apartment in a big building. That way you're communally sharing resources (building heat, numbers of sidewalks per bed, unused lawn), and yet you still have your own space. Or have your own tiny house in a small, dense, walking village surrounded by space. There are many options to have your own space and independence without living in a detached single family home where you own the large lot.


"with others" and "small, dense" are not particularly attractive to someone who really would prefer privacy. I've had those small, studio apartments. You have thin walls, parking issues, neighbor issues...it's really no comparison to living in a SFH on a large lot. Physical seperation matters a ton.

@Tyndmyr
I think the trend for larger and larger houses has been not as society gets better but as conspicuous consumption gets more fashionable. I do not think it's "great" that some people can buy huge single family homes. I think it puts a burden on society as a whole, and I think the people in the huge, empty houses don't actually feel any happier. Sure, these people might be happiest with a lot of privacy, but you don't need empty space for privacy, just a little bit of private space. In some ways I think we agree: we both independently wrote about tiny houses. But you seem to think it makes sense to value more and larger private, owned personal space as progress, and I think it is alienation and waste instead of progress.


If it provides something people want, it is not waste. And some people definitely desire size and privacy. There is a popular saying that money doesn't buy happiness...this saying is wrong. Money totally buys a wild variety of things that makes people happy. For some people, a large house that they own is a big contributor to happiness.

Me, size isn't that critical, compared to peace and quiet. Not having roommates to worry about is a HUGE contributor to happiness. Having adequate space to pursue my hobbies is a significant plus as well.

I do not think many houses, huge or not, are empty. Extra space is great, it just needs to be balanced against other desires. For instance, it's really popular in my area for people to purchase extremely large townhouses. I'd rather shell that money into lot size, myself. This all boils down to prioritization, though, and desires will vary.

Pfhorrest wrote:One of the things I find frustrating and disappointing is the unavailability of such tiny stand-alone housing. If I want something that I don't have to keep paying for and isn't part of some other lot/building that's not mine (which is usually why I would have to keep paying for it), it seems like I've got to buy way more house than I need. If there were a lot more tiny cheap houses, a lot of what frustrates me would go away.


*shrug* It's not mainstream yet. It's a niche that is still fairly small, and which is thus, not terribly well served. Mobile homes have a longer tradition, but have other tradeoffs. I suspect I'd build my own if I went this route. And, judging by past history, probably not stop building until it was well into labrynthine monstrosity levels, but hey, making things is fun.

Pfhorrest wrote:The other, orthogonal issue, more important to me socially than the privacy issue, is the matter of financial independence. I don't think it's right that we just expect everybody to pay someone else continually forever for the privilege of not being homeless (especially as being homeless is effectively illegal itself). I think society would be far more just and equitable, and a lot of the excesses of capitalism lessened, if everyone had reasonable opportunity to obtain a secure space of their own, however small, that they couldn't be kicked out of no matter how broke they went. Just that tiny little bit of security would make such a huge difference and I think it would transform society for the better.


Well, entropy is a bitch. Doesn't matter if you own or rent, you're gonna pay someone for something to maintain your place of residence. No good way around that. There's always SOME upkeep cost.

That said, minimization of those costs can go a long ways towards making life pleasant. Being house-poor is a serious issue, and often preceeds bankruptcy, forclosure, etc. Lower rent/mortgage payments/upkeep/taxes are a definite plus. You probably won't ever entirely solve homelessness, but you can definitely make huge progress.


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