The Million Dollar House

I went to a bridal shower recently in a million dollar house. It was beautiful – two story, all brick with a long driveway up the side of the house and a half circle drive in the front.

As you walked in the front door with the leaded glass insert, to the left was the dining room – a two story great room affair with hand painted Grecian arches on both walls high up, a grand piano and a wrought iron canopy sheltering the antique dining table with room for twenty.

The floors throughout were all travertine or marble tile. The sun-room was as big as our living room – with 3 or 4 patio doors on each wall and a corner fireplace with a big flat screen TV above it. It looked out on a wrap around deck with a huge gas grill and beyond that was a lovely wooded yard.

Of course, the kitchen (as big as my master suite) was all modern with granite counter tops, beautiful cherry wood cabinets, a double stainless oven, Jenn-air grill and etc.

A guy in a white jacket catered the brunch to all of the rich aunts, great-grandmas and the rest of us.

It was a lovely house and I guess if someone offered it to me free with taxes paid for 10 years I would accept. But, it struck me as a big empty. A perfectly manicured display home – not someplace that I could really consider home. Why?

Why I don’t want to live in that million dollar house.

All of the neighbors looked well off – I’d be expected to keep up with them.
The hired Christmas tree lighting decorators were all busy putting up lights in the neighbor’s yards and the lawn service personnel were all out making the leaves disappear throughout the neighborhood. I didn’t see any neighbors out walking or chatting over the fence. In that neighborhood, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing my own grass cutting in my much loved beat up old sweatshirt.

The homeowner didn’t look happy – I wondered why.
What did she give up to have that nice house? Did she marry someone she didn’t love, work in a job she hated or do something against her beliefs to get there? Was she lonely? Were all of the neighbors snubbing her or were they all 20 years older and not interested in the same things she was?

I’d rather fit in and be happy with myself and my life than live in a great big old house.

There weren’t many personal or family history items.
My own home is full of things my family has owned or that my spouse and I have collected through the years. The contents represent times gone by (ours and our ancestors) as well as times to come. The beautiful house I was in looked like it could have been a furniture store – displaying items for sale.

I doubt that I would enjoy living in a ‘setting’.

Keeping a million dollar house requires a lot of money.
Not only do you have to consider the cost of the house, but you also have to think about:

  • Interest on the mortgage
  • Higher insurance requirements
  • Expensive furnishings
  • Expensive fixtures
  • Property taxes
  • Cost of hiring services to keep up appearances (it’s too gauche to do the work yourself!)
  • Cost of equipment the hired help expects you to have for them to do their jobs
  • Membership in the various clubs or associations that are either required or expected for you to fit in
  • Wardrobe costs (remember that beat up old sweatshirt? Can’t wear that outside).
  • Vehicle costs – how could you park your 1998 Toyota in that driveway?
  • Costs involved with keeping your kids so they fit in (clothing, private schools, toys, parties and etc)
  • Entertainment costs – you have to reciprocate when you are invited – right?

Consider carefully before moving up.
I believe that we all enjoy seeing how ‘the other half’ lives. I know I love to visit other people’s houses to see what they look like, how they are decorated and furnished.

However, actually living in that huge expensive house may not be all that you think it might. Consider carefully before committing to a big lifestyle increase. Will you be able to maintain the increase in good times and bad? Have you thought through all of the ancillary costs? Will you fit in and be happy?

Like the Kensington rat in the movie Flushed Away, I’d rather live in an area that makes me happy, surrounds me with people that I love and that love me than in a mansion by myself. Of course, if I could get that in a million dollar house I’d certainly consider it!

How about you? Do you want a million dollar house?