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26 Jun 2013


My own home is a modest house but what I hope is a warm and welcoming home. There are a few things that I never compromise on in my house, and they mostly have to do with the interiors and maintenance.
Home inflation and my own home - image
When we were in our late twenties (yes we were already married before thirty) we bought our first freestanding house. This was an exciting move from an apartment. It felt like a dream, really. So much land (1300 square metre land), a swimming pool, a huge garden flat, an orchard at the back with various fruit trees, lemon and lime trees everywhere in the front garden plus a few rose bushes we grew. We could fit ten cars inside our gate easily. And I loved our sit-in kitchen.

We quickly got so overwhelmed with the cost of maintaining this giant. Remember that at this point we had never needed nor owned a spade, let alone a lawn mower. We couldn't afford a gardener and a pool guy. We realised that we had no use for the big granny flat and never thought we could rent it out. The orchard needed some work like weeding, mowing, pruning, etc. Doing that was very difficult because we had no proper tools. The swimming pool needed too much maintenance too and its pump was not working. We bought a lot of stuff to keep the place in shape but quickly gave up on it and moved to a townhouse. We were just not ready to take on such a huge responsibility.

Townhouse life was great. Most people complain about Home Owners Association (HOA) fees and rules. Rules are always annoying when one doesn't understand the logic behind them. The costs associated with owning a freestanding, full title house seem higher than the levies to me. I also include the time factor as a cost here, should I choose to perform those tasks myself. First of all, in the sectional title setting one owns only the interior of the house, with right of usage to the common property like garden, patio and garage, etc. No, you don't own those. I wrote about differences between full title and sectional title here. Paying a thousand rands plus in levies was just worth it to us. No mowing of lawns, and no worrying about the breaking driveways either. All we were doing was planting pretty flowers in a small garden. We missed our fruit trees desperately and managed to get a lemon tree for the kitchen side garden. Every Tuesday, garden services were there, without fail. Listening to the lawnmower and edge trimmer whilst in bed felt like sheer luxury. Life was pretty good. The automated outsourcing was beautiful.

Moving from there was to be to a similar set up. We needed a bigger space as kids were growing. Whilst some say its riskier to live in an estate, like I mentioned in the post here, I feel more at peace in my small house within the gated community. Off course we had this itch to get a huge garden again because we are South Africans. Every time we thought of why we need a bigger house and garden, we realised that it was not for good reasons. The challenge was when I visited my friends with huge gardens and swimming pools, and huge entertainment areas. So I went back to search for my own home a year or so back. And then two things happened.

One: I watched too much "Country House Rescue" on the home channel. How expensive it is to take care of a big home. Kids get to inherit this responsibility, as they want to keep these mansions within the family. I know, I cant afford such luxurious homes, but still... Images of the past, when I did a stint of real estate agency flashed back. I got into huge South African homes that took a staff of four to take care of. I still think its crazy to have ten garages.
Two: Then one blogger wrote about how horridly uncomfortable most huge houses look inside. The guy went to the extent of pasting two bedrooms from a huge house and one from a house half the size. His argument is that, the size of the house is some form of a show off for most people, which sucks the funds off the owners that they can't make the interiors comfortable. I've always questioned the 6 or more en-suite kind of houses for small families because I suspect that some bathrooms are never used for the whole year. It could be my jealousy talking.

This is me settling in my very humble home with pride. I will never compromise on a comfortable interior space in my own home. Forget the size of the house, I want a warm house in winter and cool one in summer. I cannot justify nor afford heating a ten bedroom mansion.


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