Posts tagged Kindle

What if I don’t need a house?

This Christmas, I received a Kindle. Right away, I subscribed to The New York Times. With all newspapers that have cut a deal with Amazon, you get a free two-week trial subscription. I figured that was enough time to decide whether or not I want to pay $13.99 a month. (I have decided I do.)

On January 7, 2010, The New York Times ran a story about men who aren’t so happy they bought a house. Several of the homeowners in the story decided to move back into an apartment.

Now, I realize that buying a house has never been a great investment. But I always figured the satisfaction of owning your own home (AND NOT HAVING TO DEAL WITH WALL-TO-WALL NEIGHBORS) would make up for any hardship when it comes to maintenance, etc. According to the excellent story by Michael Tortorello, not so.

Here are two short excerpts:

Eighteen months after moving in, Mr. Berks and his wife took drastic action: They dumped their house (managing to break even), sold almost everything in it, loaded up their Subaru and drove to Honduras for a six-month adventure. Mr. Berks said he would not recommend that solution to every homeowner. He and his wife are back in Minneapolis now, in a rental in the Uptown neighborhood, within strolling range of restaurants, bookstores and coffee shops. But looking back, he wonders why so many friends encouraged him to buy a house. “I understand why the government or society wants people to have homes,” he said — they fix them up, and their commitment stabilizes neighborhoods. “I get it, the whole beneficial aspect of homeownership. But individually, I’m not seeing it as a moral good.” As it turns out, Mr. Berks is not alone in his disdain. For reasons practical, financial and definitely emotional, there seems to be a growing cohort of men like him who are falling out of love with the holy institution of homeownership.

As a business consultant for start-up ventures, Kirt Greenburg, 41, roams widely from his base in Atlanta. But the frustrations with his 3,300-square-foot colonial revival house, where he lives alone, follow him everywhere. Mr. Greenburg, by his own account, is a “methodical, list-oriented person,” and his laptop is full of spreadsheets that document what’s wrong with the house. He started his first file in 2002, before he closed on the cedar shake house on a tree-covered acre. The electrical, plumbing and heating systems needed an overhaul; the roof leaked. Mr. Greenburg expected that the repair bill would run $60,000, maybe $70,000. The new Quicken file he clicks open, though, shows he has spent $130,000 (a sum that includes a new kitchen and a complete paint job). And the place still isn’t fixed to his satisfaction. He clicks on another spreadsheet that tallies the unfinished repairs, room by room. There are closet floors to patch, sand and finish. There’s a basement crawl space to weatherproof. “There have been a lot of times when I haven’t wanted to go home at all,” Mr. Greenburg said. “Because home reminds me of all the things I need to get done. It’s not an escape for me.”


Leave a comment »