A is for American Dream: White Picket Fence? Roll Aboard Suitcase? Both?
I’ve grown up believing the American Dream is about marrying Mr. Right, raising 2.4 kids in a house with a white picket fence and a golden retriever running around the backyard. I’m 41-years-old yet don’t own a house, condo, trailer, or any other type of hovel to put down roots. I’m divorced and my children walk on four legs, wear fur and chase lizards on Sunday afternoons. (They’re cats, if you haven’t guessed.)
Yeah, I Lived with Alligators
Since I went away to college way back when, I haven’t had a permanent address for more than four consecutive years. I’ve hopped from dorm to dorm, then cross-country from New York to Yellowstone to the Everglades (Florida) to Death Valley (California) back to Florida where, since 1997, I’ve lived at seven different addresses (that I can recall).
Okay, seven dwellings in 15 years doesn’t seem so bad but when it comes to packing and moving boxes then filling out address change notifications, it’s a little tiresome. With each move, I’ve unpacked fewer boxes.
Famous Last Words…
Back in 2004 I signed a contract to buy a condo while living in Sarasota but something didn’t feel right. The real estate bubble was growing and although assured I couldn’t go wrong buying because “real estate will always increase in value” I backed out of the deal. Looking back, I’m so glad I did because most residents in that condominium are now upside down in their mortgages.
Freedom of Travel
It was then I decided I wasn’t the type of person to put down roots. I was newly single and enjoyed the freedom of being able to get up and go and do the things I wanted to do. Renting an apartment also means I’m more mobile in relocating for a job.
I also decided I’d rather spend money on traveling rather than investing in a house. Since 2004 I’ve traveled to some amazing places including Afghanistan, Japan and Mexico along with incredible American destinations including Alaska; Portland, Ore.; and Asheville, N.C.; to name a few.
My American Dream has been traveling with a roll aboard suitcase. Rather than making monthly mortgage payments I’ve been paying for hotel room nights. Rather than picking out paint colors I’ve been selecting which food cart to eat lunch. Rather than putting up shelving in a garage I’ve been finding the best rental car deal.
My American Dream is Attainable
Today, I have a different mindset. My rent is going up $80 a month. My salary has decreased over the years while the cost of living has increased. Thankfully, the real estate bubble burst and houses are affordable for working-class people like me. I can have a mortgage payment about half of what I pay in rent which may still allow me to enjoy my traveling habit.
It’s been three weeks since I first went house-hunting. Honestly, it’s been frustrating because once I’ve looked at a house, it was off the market within days before I could make an offer. It’s March/April in Southwest Florida which means we have a lot of vacationers looking to scoop up real estate as their winter homes.
I’m optimistic after Easter when vacationers return home, I’ll be able to find my white picket fenced-house to store my roll aboard suitcase. Fingers crossed!
This post is part of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!