Being raised by Boomers and the Brady Bunch instilled a few core values in me, the biggest one perhaps was to grow up and achieve “The American Dream.” I don’t need to even describe what that means to you, because I know you know what that means, a vision popped up in your head, down to the white picket fence.
From the outside, my husband and I look pretty darn “The American Dream.”
- White man and white woman met in college and fell in love.
- Moved in together (Ok, this is the 21st century Dream after all, we can do it a tiny bit out of order)
- Husband became an engineer, wife a teacher.
- Got married.
- Had two beautiful and perfect girls (I know, the Dream is a girl and a boy, but close enough, right?)
- Had the privilege of the wife staying home to take care of the kids. Baking a pie is optional.
- Lives happily ever after.
Am I missing something? Of course! The white picket fence.
The Dream tells us that in order to be successful, you need to own a house. I’ve always imagined myself owning a house, and if I had my way it would have gotten squeezed between number 3 and 4 in my list above. It would be on at least an acre, but ideally more. Four bedrooms at a minimum, three baths, and a finished basement. We’d live our entire lives in this house and the grandkids would visit for holidays and eventually we would die in this house.
Our grandparents and many of our parents got to do this after all, so why couldn’t we?
Oh yeah, that’s right. I am a Millennial. *Insert super accurate article written by a Boomer about Millennials not being able to afford a house because we eat avocado toast.* And not just any Millennial, but one who lives in Southern California! Do you have at least $800k to drop on a two bedroom fixer upper? I sure as heck don’t! Turns out, most Millennials don’t. We are all in this housing crisis together. Now, I could start boring you with facts and figures about the real reasons why most of us can’t afford a house (spoiler, it isn’t avocado toast!!) but that gets long and complicated and that is not what this blog is about.
We have rented two apartments together, the last one was supposed to be “short term” until we could find a house but that ended up being seven long years. We lived those seven years in limbo, never hanging up pictures or decorating or doing anything semi-permanent because “we could be moving any day.” It was exhausting.
Fast forward to a year ago, my husband got a new job and we moved to San Diego. Housing prices are roughly the same, except now the houses are even older and crappier. We found a friggin gold mine to rent, though. Now don’t get me wrong, it is small and old and we lovingly call it the “Frankenstein House,” but it is a HOUSE, so right there was a step up from our old teeny apartment. It has a backyard for the kids to play and a few more square feet for us to settle into. Our landlord is kickass and lets us do whatever we want with the house. We moved into this house under the promise that we were going to be here for two years, tops, and then we would move into the house we will die in.
Fast forward to the present. We have been in our Frankenstein House a year. That year we have paid close attention to the housing market and we finally realized we were stuck between two options: 1. Find a tiny shitty little house an hour commute out of the city. Buy it at the very tippy top of our financial ability and live frugally forever. Or. 2. Rent for the foreseeable future and have more money to do all the other things we want to do with our life. After having a lot of heart to hearts and talking to our landlord who said he has no intention of ever selling or kicking us out, we decided to go with option 2.
So now I get to put roots in the ground for the first time in my adult life (I am 30 by the way). Now I get to finish up my American Dream. We get to have extra fun money to buy a new truck, a travel trailer, new toys, and new experiences. I get a house I can paint and decorate and fix and do whatever the heck I want to it. I get a backyard where I can have a vegetable garden and fruit trees and chickens and a place for the kids to play. I get a front yard where I can xeriscape and if I am really feeling nostalgic, add a white picket fence. Yes, it is tiny and old and very Frankenstein, but we can deal with lots of organization and living minimally.
The only caveat? We don’t own it. And I can finally say that I am ok with that. This is the new American Dream. MY American Dream!
So stay tuned for all our new adventures, lord knows I will probably blog about them!