I don’t know where to begin. The beginning seems passe: Our family is searching for property. The details are tedious: A typical laundry list of needs/wants. The feelings are normal: Eager, disappointed, hopeless.
There are a few things that I have been forced to speculate on though, and to understand I will need to flesh out the situation a bit.
We are a single income family. The Captain makes a comfortable living as a journeyman power lineman. It affords us everything we need, and a few things we want. Each month we are able to put a little bit away into savings, for our 10th anniversary vacation and our forever house fund. I want to go to school to obtain a degree in creative writing, editing, and publishing. Since my husband makes a comfortable wage, we do not qualify for assistance. That little bit every month that goes into savings for a house? Counts against us. Childcare costs for our children would far exceed anything I could make right now if I chose to work, since I have no formal education. Our family of 6, just trying to find a modest home in an area where we can have a garden and chickens without an HOA calling for our heads, has to choose between an education for me and a home that suits our needs.
Of course right now we are choosing the home.
It’s far easier said than done though.
All I want is a home that’s big enough for us to live without our kids constantly being on top of each other. Cabin Girl deserves to have her own bedroom. As of now, she is tucked away in the corner of the playroom, where her siblings constantly trash her things and jump on her bed. I want space for laying hens. An extra 1/8 of an acre would be an awesome bonus so we could have milking goats. We need green space for the kids to play and practice their sports. Room for a vegetable garden so we can be partially self-sufficient. A few fruit bearing trees for jams and canning. We want a mini-homestead with a modern twist. A place we can invite friends and family for weekend bonfires without disturbing the neighbors. A quality school and a caring community. We have had to scratch ‘nice view’ and ‘proximity to natural water’ off of our want list, as needs trump wants.
But even what we need is out of our reach.
Because we are too middle class.
It is not enough to have a budget of a quarter of a million dollars anymore.
It is a luxury to grow your own food and raise your own laying hens.
It is frowned upon to be self-sufficient in a family friendly community.
It is looked down upon to want modesty in our world of excess.
I am not ashamed of wanting a manufactured home. It fits our needs and suits our budget. It has walls, a roof, hot water, and air conditioning. It will hold our memories and help us raise our children just as well as any stick-built home.
But modesty and quality are not traits that blend well anymore.
Because success means stone pillars and expansive lawns of perfectly manicured grass. Huge 4,000 square foot homes with a shop to contain all the boats, atvs, and gun safes you could ever need. Custom decorated foyers and memberships to dancing academies or spots on competitive league baseball teams.
To us, success would be a yard our kids could play in, food they can have a hand in growing, animals they can have a hand in raising, and a modest home they feel excited to invite their friends to.
It is beginning to feel like there is no room here for our version of success.