Life lessons from being wealthy and owning my dream home…

    “Nobody told me how much extra work a great big house and a large property is to maintain. Nobody clued me in. When I was a kid, I thought houses magically maintained themselves! I’ve since learned – the hard way! – that big houses are lots of work and stress.”

I came to the conclusion a while back that my current home is way too large.

By modern standards, it’s not big. Four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, one living room. The house was built in the 1980s, and in comparison to what is being built today, it’s actually on the small side.

My farm and home (orange roof). It's beautiful, but the garden alone is hours and hours of work a week.

My farm and home (two and a half storey with orange roof in the center of the photo). It’s beautiful, but the garden alone is hours and hours of work a week.

I began to notice it was too big from the moment we moved in. Prior to the farm, we’d lived in a two bedroom apartment. Sure, we were cramped, but it was so easy to clean up. Our amount of “stuff” was limited by space. If we couldn’t fit it in, we didn’t buy it. The kids were in one bedroom, which only worked because they were tiny, but we managed.

We didn’t have a guest room back then, but our guests coped on the pull-out sofa when they stayed. We didn’t have a second bathroom either, but we waited in line when we had to, and that was fine. Apart from the kids being in one room, we managed fine.

In the house we have now, the rooms are big. Really big. My bedroom is cavernous, and the guest bedroom is just as big. Having extra bathrooms is convenient…except I have to clean the extra bathrooms as well. Funny I never thought about that when we bought the place!

As for large bedrooms with three windows each? That’s three sets of curtains to replace. Three windows to clean. Lots of skirting boards to dust. Lots of vacuuming. Lots of dusting. Lots of furniture to make the room feel like it isn’t empty. Lots of money and time and effort to spend. The house has over 45 windows all up. Our apartment had seven.

My friend’s small house

My best friend lives in a small house in town, built in the 1920s, and I’m envious of his small home. It’s so easy to clean. Just three small bedrooms. No stairs. One bathroom. One window per bedroom. It’s so easy to look after, and by comparison with mine it really highlights the extra work my large house takes in upkeep.

Being wealthy, as I suppose I am, is a blessing. But it can be a curse. Sure I was able to buy the large house I currently have. And I was able to buy all the nice things that go in it.

But nobody told me how much extra work it requires to look after and maintain all those lovely things and that great big house. Nobody clued me in. As a child, of course, I thought houses magically looked after themselves! And as a young adult living in an apartment, before I owned a large house, I didn’t realise how time-consuming and exhausting owning things could be.

I’m not complaining. Financially I’ve been fortunate, and I’ve worked very hard, as has my ex-husband. But I do think our society encourages people to buy all these status items – large houses, lots of belongings etc. – but doesn’t educate us about how much extra work their maintenance will be. Those large green lawns in the suburbs, those shiny expensive cars, those great big houses – all of it keeps us tied to our jobs and exhausts us and keeps us from relaxing with our families on weekends. It all keeps us working, consuming. It all keeps us busy being rats in the endless rat race.

Maybe we’re not taught these things because if we’re taught we won’t want the status items any more?

Living a small, simpler life…

So I’m downsizing. I’m selling this large and lovely house, and buying a small house in the city. I’m leaving the suburbs and the farm.

I don’t want to spend my life looking after the things I own. I have better things to do with my time. Life is too precious to spend it cleaning! I just wish I’d known that years ago.

My large home will go on the market next year, and from then on…who knows? But whatever I buy, it will be small. I want to spend my life adventuring and enjoying experiences. Experiences which don’t include extra housework!

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