I used to live in a dream house before my parents divorced. It was a dream house because it was made of stones, had a fireplace, and a sunny terrace with hammocks on it. The house was in Villefranche sur Mer on the hills above the sea. From there, we could see the bay and the Mediterranean stretching to the horizon.
My dad stayed in the house after the divorce and I went to live with my mum. I would still go to the house often, but it wasn’t ‘home’ anymore. Home was an apartment in Nice: no more walking to school among the trees, no more fires in the winter, and no more room with a view. Since then, I’ve often thought about my dream house. The one I’d have with my own family. I imagine how it’d look like in detail, wondering whether it’d be better to have one story or two, an open kitchen or a closed one, etc.
Nick knows what a dream house is, too, because his parents live in one: it’s up on a hill overlooking dark green forests and golden fields, has a big common living space, a room with a piano and games in it, a TV room, enough bedrooms and bathrooms for a family, and a fireplace. There’s also a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a tennis court, and a croquet field. Hard to beat that.
So Nick and I agree on what a dream house is, but disagree on when we should start thinking of getting our own. While I’d rather stay mobile and mortgage-free for now, Nick is already attracted to the security and the certainty of ownership. He argues that a house would be like a base to return to and wouldn’t force us to stay in one place. Owning a house would represent a great achievement for him, and he already saved a decent amount of money towards that goal. Unfortunately, I didn’t make much money teaching French, and now I’m going back to school for a year. Besides, I don’t even know where I’d like the house to be: Switzerland where the cheapest house near Zurich would cost more than a million Francs? In New Zealand, far from my family and friends?
Our different opinions on house ownership create arguments sometimes. But they also force us to reconsider our aspirations: maybe I need to save more and think about financial security, and Nick might enjoy the added flexibility of renting. In any case, our life is good and we’re pretty damn lucky to have a roof over our heads in a first world country.
For now, we’ll just rent the little house at the bottom of the hill from Nick’s parents’s place. It is a mini dream house with enough room for both of us, a sunny deck, and a little fireplace. We might not own it, but we’re free to work on meaningful projects while we’re in it: I’m going back to university, and Nick works only part time and uses the other half of his time to work on his own start-up projects. With a mortgage, he’d have to work full time, and I would probably not have even considered becoming a journalist.
We’re not in our dream house yet, but we’re in a house where we can live our dreams. And that’s probably more important.
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