Way back when I was a very young adult I judged the success of life on the size of the house. Having grown up in a duplex I thought the single detached houses were for the wealthy only. And two floors with wall-to-wall carpeting was the fuel of dreams! When I was just barely an adult I found an area of the city where the houses were larger than the community hall. These houses were mansions to me and therefore reserved for the super rich people, a home I felt I would never be worthy enough to own.
As the years went by I watched my friend buy a big house (later to sell it and build a huge house in a gated community) and my sister-in-law buy a big house (later to sell it and buy a huge house I have not seen, only heard of) and feel intensely jealous of them. I went from an apartment downtown, to a very old townhouse, to an even older and more run-down townhouse, to the moderate house I am living in now (for 14 years). The whole time I've rented homes and have not come up with the money for a down payment on a house of my own but still dreamed of the day I would 'make it' and live in a giant house. Preferably new.
My dreams of a big house would get larger with each year to the point of absolutely ridiculous. Until my divorce. Something shifted in my mind then and has recently cemented into a new attitude. Now, I find I want a smaller home.
I realized that one reason I wanted a big house was to show it off to all the people that thought I was worthless (or that I perceived thought me worthless). This way I could snub my nose at them and show them I was successful despite their views of me. And I could have a huge house to get away from my ex-husband. After the divorce I realized I was trying to put as much room between me and my ex as I could.
Once the dust settled and I was out of the influence of my ex and his family I found I was dreaming of tiny little houses - enough for just me. I would imagine a breakfast nook with a table for one overlooking a tiny patio in a small back yard. A house where the entire upper floor was a small bedroom and little bathroom. This house was being designed in my head for after my boys grew up and moved on (no way I could have the money until then - I realized that pretty early on in the process).
By the time I met S I was comfortable with the idea of a smaller place to live and began to look at large houses as a bit of a waste of space. And, to be honest, a bit pretentious. We have talked about owning a house but the reality of the situation is that our priorities just aren't aligned into saving for the down payment. Now that T and J are almost at the stage of being launched it seems silly to even consider a house. Might as well wait until it is just S and I and choose one for just us.
With all that in mind we went to visit the open houses for a Dream Home lottery here in my city. I believe the three grand prizes each include a house, car, and vacation. We went through all three houses and I found that I really don't want to own such a large home. They were absolutely gigantic (to me) at around 4000 sq ft. Aside from the major redecoration that is required should I be moving into any of these houses, there are just too many rooms to fill. While it might be cool to own, I don't think I could ever feel really at home in any of those houses.
I will still probably buy a ticket for the lottery, but sell the house if I actually win. That way I can take the cash from the sale and build something more suited to just the two of us. Even after all the taxes are paid from the sale of the house I would still have more money than I have right now. And if I have to live in the house before selling it, well, then I can get a much better idea at what I want in a house. But it will be small, that's for sure.