The area we’ve lived in for the last 5 years, as townhouse and house owners, is while quite suburban but located very well. A 10 min walk to a major bus station, a 10 min walk to reasonably great shopping, 10 min driving to downtown core. The area has an awesome park for the little ones AND some of the best public schools in the city (Nay, the province. I’ve checked!). Plus, my parents live here (7 min leisurely walk), and when you get along with your parents and they are willing to help out with babysitting, there’s no better arrangement, EVER. So we have held on to this area, refusing to look outside of it.
At the time of purchasing our current home, and I hate being judgemental here, I was not impressed much by the homes being built in suburbia. I was just getting into the world of tile and hardwood choices and falling madly and deeply in love with everything custom. So buying one of those homes meant that I would need to upgrade the hell out of it to be happy with it. And I thought that I might as well do the same thing (renovate a 25+ year old home) and stay in the same area. Because surprise surprise, the prices between homes being built on the outskirts were not that much different from what we got our house for. I’m talking brand new single homes/4bdrm/2 car garages vs. a 25 year old home in original condition.
Also, the homes/McMansions were becoming bigger and bigger (and we were already questions the need for that much space), just as quality of construction was becoming poorer and poorer, the lots smaller, the neighbours closer, etc. My hedged in backyard with a huge deck looked luxurious by comparison. And, at the time, the decision to stay here and reno this house was a no brainer.
As I said before, we had gone back and forth on reno’ing for us vs. reno’ing for resale, because resale was always an option. But in the end we decided that we would reno for us to give ourselves the option of staying in this area and loving it.
There’s a joke out there about women having it all. You can have:
An awesome career
A dinner on the table every night
An amazing body
A great sex life
Pick any two, ok maybe three; but definitely not all four. Something has to be sacrificed, something has to give. There are only 24 hours in a day.
And I think this approach applies to everything in life. We are told constantly that if we have a, b, c, d, we will be happy, fulfilled, successful. What they don’t tell us is that you can’t have it all at once. And that success is defined differently by different people. As the title of this post says, you can’t have everything, you have to make choices. And we are choosing flexibility over a large house.
Back to the house, once the reno dust settled we took a very hard and critical look at our life, we realized that what others might find fulfilling and what makes others happy is stifling the life out of me and my hubby. And it is something that is SO HARD to explain, to the point that we are avoiding telling people that we’re selling the house (ha ha, sob). While we are happy and confident with our decision, we really don’t feel like defending it 24/7, and so far EVERYONE we have told has said that we’re insane for doing this.
I blame our past decisions on being young and stupid, or gullible, or all three. I also can’t say I regret anything 100%. There is value in life experiences; there is value in experiences that teach you about who you are. That’s the way I choose to look at our current situation.
All of that being said, there is a very strong undercurrent of sadness associated with all of this. Questions of why doesn’t this make me happy, what is wrong with me, why am I so misunderstood? What about my kid, will she feel deprived? Will she feel embarrassed? Will the other things that we will be able to give her be enough to compensate for not living in a house?? Some days I just want to hear that it will be ok.
And then I walk through the house and I don’t feel like it is my home. I feel like it is a beautiful house, but I am already emotionally detached from it. And I feel happy with the decision and no amount of self-doubt (healthy or not so healthy) is going to convince me otherwise. I would rather regret doing something, than NOT doing something. Life is too short to live by somebody else’s rules.