Big house, little house

I am constantly changing. While many people are much the same today as they were yesterday (or last week or twenty years ago), I'm always evolving. This isn't necessarily good or bad — it's just who I am. Some of my friends think I'm fickle. I get that. (Kris tells me that I go through “phases”.) I prefer to view this constant change as growth. I don't want to be the same person tomorrow as I am today. I enjoy the evolution.

But this continued growth creates complications. For one thing, it's difficult for the Present Me to predict what the Future Me will like. Sometimes I'm right — but sometimes I'm wrong. (It's not just me. Happiness expert Daniel Gilbert says that people are surprisingly bad at guessing what will bring them joy.)

Over the past couple of years, a variety of forces have been acting on my mind, subtly forcing me in new directions. (Mental glaciation!) I've been traveling. I've been reading. I've been talking to folks with unconventional lives. Pressure has been building. Then, earlier this month, the World Domination Summit burst things open. Now I find that I'm eager to shake up my current life and try something new.

I want to meet new people and see how they live. I want to see natural wonders — and man-made wonders, too. I want to try new food. I want jump out of airplanes and swim with the sharks, trek over mountains and get lost in the jungle. (But not too lost.) I want to taste the world.

And so, I came home one night last week and announced, “I don't want to live here anymore.”

Dream House

Kris and I own an 1800-square-foot farmhouse set on two-thirds of an acre. Our land is park-like: We're surrounded by trees and shrubs, and we've spent the past eight years building a food-producing garden filled with herbs, vegetables, berry canes, and fruit trees. Despite the rural feel, our home is located in a typical suburban neighborhood about fifteen minutes from downtown Portland, which makes the place unique. (“I've never seen a property like this,” our real-estate agent told us when we first toured the house.)

Rosings Park, our home

When we bought this house in 2004, it was my dream home. I fell in love with it instantly. I'd always wanted to live in an old farmhouse, a place with charm and character. I was so emotionally invested in the house that I was willing to make a poor financial decision to buy it. (Thus setting into motion the course of events that would lead to my financial nadir and, eventually, the creation of Get Rich Slowly.)

Over the years, though, the house has become less of an oasis and more of a chore. Today, it seems like a burden. Yes, the yard is beautiful, but it requires constant maintenance. I'd rather be writing than pruning shrubs. And ninety minutes to mow the lawn? Ugh. Plus, the house itself seems too big for two people — even with all of our Stuff. We have whole rooms we rarely use. In short, this is no longer my dream house.

I've made oblique references to this problem for years now. (And sometimes, in the comments, the references have been decidedly non-oblique.) But until recently, my discontent has never taken any form other than mumbling. Now, though, I feel moved to action.

No Quick Fix

Unfortunately, it's not easy to simply say “I don't want to live here anymore” and move on to someplace new. Selling (or buying) a home is a huge undertaking. There are many things to consider.

For one, I'm not sure what I really want. I know what I don't want — which is this house — but I'm not sure where I'd rather live. An apartment? A smaller house? In the country? In the city? It's tough to choose something different when you don't actually know what you want.

Also, the Stuff is still an issue. Yes, I've been slowly purging things for the past four years, but I still have way too much. I still feel overwhelmed. (This is primarily because my definition of “needs” keeps shrinking. I mean, I can live out of a single carry-on suitcase for a month when I travel. Why do I need rooms filled with Stuff when I'm home?) If we're going to move, I don't want to take all of this with me.

Note: One idea that appeals to me: Move to a smaller place, but only take the bare essentials. Then, for six months (or a year or whatever), whenever we need something from the old house, move it over. At the end of six months, sell whatever hasn't been moved and sell the old house.

And, of course, there are financial ramifications. Does it really make sense to sell in this market? I'm fortunate to be in a position that allows me to work from anywhere. Kris has a job that she loves, though, and it's tied to a specific location. How do we account for this? (Also, what about the costs of my proposed travel?)

But the biggest reason Kris and I don't just pick up and move to someplace smaller is that she still loves our home. This is her dream house. I've changed; she hasn't. I may be unhappy here, but she'd be unhappy moving elsewhere — especially when I don't even know what it is I want.

Thus, there's no quick fix to this situation. I remain discontented.

Stumbling Toward Happiness

I'm not sure what we'll do in the long-term. This isn't one of those posts where I describe a problem and then share a solution. We haven't found a solution. Instead, after a couple of talks, Kris and I have decided on some stop-gap measures:

    • I will explore solo travel. It may be that I won't even like extended travel alone. It appeals to me right now, but what if I hate it? There's no way to know unless I try. So, for the rest of the year, I'm going to head out on a series of personal adventures. (Thanks to the many GRS readers who have written with advice and offers to host me, by the way. You're very kind.)
    • I'll hire somebody to do the yardwork I'm neglecting. It pains me to pay for this, but I have to face reality: I hate doing yardwork. I'd rather be writing and/or traveling. (And besides, the writing makes me money.) I'll do what I can around the house, but hire somebody to do the rest. This will require giving up my comic-book habit, but I'm okay with that. I'd rather travel.
    • I'll be more diligent about purging my Stuff. As Adam Baker can attest, my workshop is filled with books and magazines and games and outdated electronics. There's no need for me to keep all of this. Instead of just thinking about it, I need to actively shed this physical (and mental) baggage.

These are first steps. They'll buy us time while I'm trying to discover who I am and what I want to do. If I'm still feeling oppressed in the winter or the spring, Kris and I will explore other options. Though, to be honest, I have no idea what those options might be.

Recently, Tammy Strobel from Rowdy Kittens offered an hilarious solution. Tammy and her husband are building a tiny house. She suggested that I could build a tiny house and put it in the middle of our huge lawn. “Then you could have what you want and Kris could have what she wants,” Tammy said. Clever. We're not to that point yet, but who knows? Maybe next year at this time, I'll be living like a gypsy in the middle of our yard.

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Sara
Sara
9 years ago

Yes. I am having the same conundrum. Right now I am living with my part-time kids in a very small house with a landlord that does the yard work. I only garden if and when I want to. The whole house can be cleaned in about an hour, top to bottom. I can’t own much stuff because it is too small. I still find I have things to let go of though because they are from my old life and not my new. I thought I would buy a house, but I really find I like calling the landlord for… Read more »

Becky
Becky
9 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Regarding the phenomenon of getting interested in a craft/hobby as soon as you give a bunch of supplies away — could it be that you were dissatisfied with your existing projects, but unwilling to leave them unfinished, so you gave up on the whole craft? Then once you let go of those particular projects, the craft became appealing again.

Sometimes for me I’m frustrated at how a particular project is turning out. Other times, I actually don’t like the craft; I like the idea of it. Hard to distinguish till I go through the cycle a few times.

Mo
Mo
9 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Grab a copy of Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams. Yes, it’s a bit self-helpy, with endless numbers of miserable people who just followed her simple advice and are now happy as clams, but the actual tips and suggestions are fantastic. What I got from it – be honest about what you enjoy in a project/craft/hobby and that there’s nothing wrong with dropping said P/C/H when you are no longer enjoying it. I like taking craft classes and learning new things, so I no… Read more »

AC
AC
9 years ago

I would go through the stop-gap measures first before selling the house, especially if Kris is really happy. Is the reason you don’t like it financial and you think there are better places to put your money towards or do you just not like the house? You think this might just be an existential crisis?

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  AC

Ah, AC, this is a good question. Is it a financial issue or an existential issue? To be honest, it’s probably more of the latter. Financially, we’re fine. But I seem to be going through some sort of minor mid-life crisis. (How trite!)

There’s no question that we’ll work through the stop-gap measures (and probably other measures, too) before we do anything drastic. Kris really does love the house.

Dee
Dee
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I read this and immediately thought midlife crisis…. 🙂

steven@hundredgoals.com
9 years ago
Reply to  Dee

Me too, but I fully support JD in pursuing his ambitions. I think we should all chase our dreams, even if they seem trite and fickle. What I can tell you JD, from my own experience, is that you’ll love skydiving, and solo travel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I find when I’m on the other side of the planet by myself, I miss my girlfriend and wish she was there with me. I have no doubt you’ll feel the same way. Yes, it’s fun to travel and explore, but if there’s no one to share those moments… Read more »

Sonja
Sonja
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

This seems to be going around. We’ve noticed it with friends and with ourselves (mid-life crisis). I’ve been aching to read The Power of Half and told my husband the other day that we could ready the house for sale — mostly just for the thrill of downsizing the maintenance. But we laughed it off as we have small kids and plenty of stuff.

anne
anne
9 years ago
Reply to  AC

People tend to think of so-called midlife crisis as a sort of pathetic middle class phase but its really just the very real sense of how much time there is and come to the realization that we only have so much time left. I’m 55 and I find myself really grieving those things that I now know I really probably won’t be able to do. In your 40’s you still have the sense of urgency to get it all in. If you don’t pay attention to that urgency you may regret it. Do what you need to do, I predict… Read more »

bon
bon
9 years ago

hrm… this (seemingly widening) gap between what you want and what Kris wants worries me JD! I think that in a lot of ways living a simpler life can mean making do with what you have just as much as reducing or simplifying. I also really don’t like that this is still Kris’ dream house and you want a change! Regardless – I recommend getting rid of as much stuff as you can, and then traveling. Maybe not always internationally – maybe to a writer’s retreat, or a reader’s cabin they let you borrow, or to an apartment you can… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  bon

Kris is being very supportive of my changing goals. She’s okay with the idea of solo travel. She can get behind the idea of me purging my Stuff. She’s even willing to accept the fact that I might hire somebody to do yardwork.

But because this is still Kris’ dream house, I’m not willing to press for radical change. I understand that I need to find a way to work through this in a way that supports her needs and desires, too. That’s our aim. 🙂

Charlotte
Charlotte
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

JD –

These are great intermmediate actions. Solo travel especially will go a long way in helping you with self-discovery without making permanent changes. Who knows you might even gain a new appreciation for the house when you get back.

On bon’s idea of a writer’s cabin, how about you find a vacation home to rent for a month at a time? (Not buy as that would be a whole different ball game)

-Charlotte

bon
bon
9 years ago

One more thing – will a Rocio Romero LV house fit in Rosings? It is my dreamhome, google it!

Anne
Anne
9 years ago
Reply to  bon

Nice! I’m guessing that if building a tiny house on the lot is possible and Kris likes the big farmhouse, that a more traditional-looking tiny house might be more appealing. I think that’s a pretty valid idea and could incorporate JD’s concept of moving only the essentials out there over time. Maybe find something, try it out, have Kris try it out and see what you both think. Good luck!!

Karen T.
Karen T.
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Great idea! Build a tiny house on your property, put in only the essentials, and use it as your retreat. Hire someone to do the yardwork and maintenance if you don’t want to do it anymore (you don’t want your beautiful yard to become seedy). Then you can be happy and pursue some of your desires, and Kris can be happy too. And if you change back and decide this house is once again your dream, you won’t have lost it (since it’s such a unique property, you’d never find something like it again).

Kestra
Kestra
9 years ago

I also often have an itch for change and for new experiences, including moving. What helps me is to plan the change, to research different places and ways of living, to just think about different things. The thinking and planning is one of my hobbies. Usually once I’ve thought it to death, I don’t really want to do it any more. But the thinking entertains me in the mean time. I also agree about just trying new activities that aren’t involved with moving. I’m trying to do more of that now, so my life isn’t just about work and decompressing… Read more »

Roberta
Roberta
9 years ago
Reply to  Kestra

Kestra – I do this too! Glad I’m not the only one. Recently I thought it would be great to live off the grid for a while, in a cabin or something like that. By the time I was done researching all the details… what kind of kerosene lamps to buy? etc. I was totally over the idea, and decided that what I really wanted was to just focus on reducing my resource consumption here in my urban home. 🙂

getagrip
getagrip
9 years ago

Sounds like you got really spun up and are still riding the high.

Mike Holman
Mike Holman
9 years ago

Every house has it’s good & bad.

It sounds to me like you think this house belongs to the “old” you and now you want to move somewhere that the “new” you can feel like the ownership.

I think a lot of couples go through this when they get together – ie they have to have a new house to be “theirs”.

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago

I can relate to your conundrum because I’m in a similar place. My house is much smaller than yours but I still find its care and upkeep (and the volume of “stuff” it holds) overwhelming. My husband and I joke about how silly it is to have a 1300 sq ft house when we’re nearly always together in a few small rooms. We’re working together to radically rework our living quarters (and life) in the next five years. Since you enjoy writing, I suggest you write about what you want your home to do for you. What kind of feeling… Read more »

Everyday Tips
Everyday Tips
9 years ago

Your house looks so much bigger than 1800 square feet. Anyway… When I first start reading your article, I thought “try paying someone to do some of the tasks you feel bogged down by and see if it becomes your dream home again”. Think about it, I am sure you make more money writing than you would paying someone to do yard work. It will give you more time to generate income if you want to look at it that way. (or to golf, your choice.) Your house is my dream home, I would absolute love it. However, I can… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Everyday Tips

Or, buy a bunch of goats…

So hilarious on so many levels. 🙂

(Kris loves goats. We’ve talked about getting them in the past. It hadn’t occurred to me to suggest these as a solution to our current dilemma, primarily because our talks have been sober and not silly. But I like it!)

Ru
Ru
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Sometimes the silliest talks can yield the best results. Upon lamenting the fact I can’t afford to rent where I study, a friend today suggested that I rent a boat on the canal instead. I’m now looking at it. Totally silly throwaway comment, but it might change my life forever.

Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate
Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

J.D.,

Goats are in-discriminatory about what they eat and would eat your deliberately planted garden.

Katy

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
9 years ago

And anything else they can get their mouth on. On the other hand, you can milk them and make all kinds of foods, soap, etc.

Judy
Judy
9 years ago

or you build a temporary fence on the lawn where you want the goats to be

Crystal
Crystal
9 years ago
Reply to  Everyday Tips

I was also going to suggest hiring yard help and then saw you mentioned that as a stop-gap, woot! And sometimes fun ideas like the goats make the subject easier to deal with. 🙂 You may find you love your home but don’t like maintenance (like me). I happily pay for biweekly lawn care so I can enjoy my home and pursue blogging full time uninterrupted by the yard stuff I don’t like. It allows me to enjoy our home instead of resenting it and is totally worth the $50 a month in my opinion for our small yard (it’s… Read more »

Brett Adams
Brett Adams
9 years ago

I have just recently started following our blog, but I understand what you mean by the constant little changes, A friend of mine calls the “mini-deaths that bring forth new life within an individual”.

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  Brett Adams

Lololol! Is that like the other “petite morte” that leads to new life?

Chett
Chett
9 years ago

J.D., I just finished a book written from a scientific view of happiness called The How of Happiness. It the book it discusses how our brains are naturally inclined to something known as hedonistic adaptation. Basically the theory (which seems evident to me once pointed out) is that any shiny new thing or experience we are exposed to, we get used to and adapt over time and begin the itch for another shiny new thing or experience. I guess your situation would feed that “need” since you say your desire in constant change. I don’t think it’s unrealistic for one… Read more »

Alexandra
Alexandra
9 years ago

It sounds like it’s the upkeep of the house (and perhaps even the guilt you feel about neglecting it) that is making you have negative feelings about it. Money is not a concern, so outsource the stuff you hate to do. Hire someone for gardening. Hire someone to paint your trim, tighten shutters, clean your gutters, etc. There is no shame in paying someone else to do the stuff that you don’t want to do IF you can afford it. In fact, that’s one of the perks of becoming wealthy. I also think you should be hiring a professional organizer… Read more »

slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com
slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com
9 years ago
Reply to  Alexandra

I’m going to agree with Alexandra. I think you should move quickly to resolve as many of these issues as you can. You will end up spending some $ along the way, but it’s a lot cheaper than travel or more permanent decisions. I would then urge you to pay special attention to your mini mid-life crisis and see if these really are the issues or are these simply a symptom of something more?

Sue loffhagen
Sue loffhagen
5 years ago
Reply to  Alexandra

I have lived in both a big house with huge grounds and a small house with huge grounds. The grounds are the problem for me and the eventual, after all the work has been done, pleasure! Big houses for me are not the problem, close off the rooms you don’t use, until you have your visitors. Big homes tend to look much tidier even if tney are a tad messy whereas small homes look cramped and visually unappealable g if not kept really tidy. I’m moving to a much bigger house with just trees and a lawn to mow with… Read more »

Becky
Becky
9 years ago

JD, I trust your judgement and I know that you love Kris, so I’m not too worried you will do this, but – be careful not to give up something real and specific that Kris loves for something nebulous that you have an itch for. If someone does that too many times, it can break their partner’s heart. As you know, relationships are more important than things or money.

It sounds like you have a solid plan that does not involve moving too fast, so, good luck.

Jo
Jo
9 years ago

I like the Tiny House suggestion, and the “buy a bunch of goats” suggestion. I very much like that you and Kris feel free to grapple with something as difficult as divergent desires.

Is having a large lawn something either of you really loves, or could you go wild and do something totally different with the space?

Erin
Erin
9 years ago

J.D., I am having the exact same feelings about my life right now as well. My 22 year old self wanted to rush into the American Dream of owning a home and having a 9-5 office job. Five years later, I am NOT that person anymore. I fantasize every day about selling my house and quitting my job. Due to my mortgage being underwater and the housing market being terrible, I haven’t made a move yet. This, in turn, chains me to a job I don’t care about, with exception to the money I make. I do like your ideas… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
9 years ago
Reply to  Erin

Erin, when I was 29 I found myself in a job I hated and with nearly $10,000 in my savings account. I quit my job and moved to France. It was perhaps reckless and not at all financially wise, but I still consider it one of the best things I’ve ever done. I ended up getting a job teaching English there. I didn’t have a mortgage though…perhaps you could rent out your home? You may want to be a little less reckless than I was. I ended up having to live with my parents for a year when I came… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
9 years ago
Reply to  Erin

You might find, that if you get out from under the mortage (by extra payments to not be underwater) you feel better about your situation just because you’re not stuck.

That does it for me. I hate being stuck in any way, but having a plan in place for how I could manage without my job, or without my partner, lets me see the value in them that the horrible imprisoned feeling obscured. (Or not, in the case of some jobs – but then I feel better and can perform well while looking for a new job).

mrs darling
mrs darling
9 years ago

I live in the same house my husband bought new 30 years ago. We were married in the living room. I always say we will be buried in the orchard out back under the apple trees. 🙂 We are a people with roots that go deep. Our house is 2,800 sq ft and we use every single inch of it. In fact, a lot of the bedrooms double for other things. One bedroom is also the grandkids playroom. Another one is a guest bedroom with a fold away partition used to make the bedroom into a “school room” for my… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  mrs darling

For those who are unaware (which is probably everyone), Mrs. Darling is my cousin. (She provided a couple of guest posts back in the early days of GRS.) Mrs. Darling and I have radically different lives and world views, but share the bond of family. It’s interesting to learn that she’s made some similar decisions.

Carrie
Carrie
9 years ago

I love this post because I am going through something similar. We just bought a new house less than a year ago and I hate it. Some of my hate is directly related to the house (renovations needed) and some are more general like upkeep. As much as I hated renting b/c it was unstable, I miss those days of low responsibility. And like you, my husband and I are not on the same wavelength. I also have kids which makes thing a lot more complicated. But the thing that scares me is that I always think the grass is… Read more »

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
9 years ago
Reply to  Carrie

Carrie, it sounds to me like some time invested with a good therapist to see if you have depression would be well spent.

Karen T.
Karen T.
9 years ago
Reply to  Carrie

I’ve gone through something similar, Carrie, and constant feelings of discontent can ruin your life. That sounds like a mindset you should get some help with before you make any decisions.

All best wishes.

chrissy
chrissy
9 years ago

Your stop-gap measures – particularly paying for a gardener – sound like great first steps before such a big, costly change. I agree with bon above about the potential hazard of you and Kris growing in different directions. I suspect you’re just now being able to *really* explore your wants, needs and desires after getting your finances in order and have found a fulfilling job and interesting hobbies. Perhaps you’ll find when the house isn’t a hassle and when you’re home less often, you’ll place less importance on where you live, and then you and Kris can stay in her… Read more »

Kate
Kate
9 years ago

I’d like to echo bon’s comments above.

I’m the master (mistress?) of major life change, and thankfully my husband is usually on board. But I would urge you to tread carefully here. You’re going through a *huge* amount of change right now- be sure you don’t wind up leaving Kris behind. You guys have a wonderful thing going.

Suzanne
Suzanne
9 years ago

What about buying or renting a second home? Since you can work from anywhere,you could spend a month or two every year by a lake or in the country, or even a different place every year. That would meet your need for change while Kris gets to stay where she is. Also, she can visit you on the weekends.

Jenn
Jenn
9 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

In our area, the great regret of many midlifers is their second home (“lake homes” in a state of many lakes) because now there’s upkeep in TWO places!

I sometimes dream of replacing our lawn with astro-turf, but pretty sure the HOA would not approve.

Megan E.
Megan E.
9 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I like this suggestion. You could rent out a place for 2-3 months in Thailand, Indonesia, or other (cheaper to the dollar) places to explore those areas and how you would feel living in a different setting and still write to bring in the money to pay for it. Honestly, it sounds like you have the “change” bug – that is, you want something big and important to occur in your life and thus you are doing things to make it so – and they aren’t big enough, so you want to go bigger, and your house is the biggest… Read more »

Hollie
Hollie
9 years ago

If you’d asked me 10 years ago whether I’d want to live in an apartment in a city, I’d have told you that you were crazy. My husband and I lived in a large farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, had dogs, a huge garden, enjoyed doing hours of outside work, and considered ourselves “country people.” Over the years we found the house to be too much and we downsized. An ill-advised move to the East Coast for a job that didn’t pan out put us in a poor financial position. We have since climbed out of that financial hole… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
9 years ago
Reply to  Hollie

My partner and I are on the same page with not wanting our current house – too old, too big, too much yard, too much work. What we’re NOT in agreement about yet is, what next? I would like a radical change – a tiny, semi-underground house, or a condo and a community garden plot; he would like a house just like this one but slightly smaller, slightly newer, easier upkeep. So we’re plugging along with fixing up this one to sell for best price when the market picks up, and discussing (and discussing, and discussing) what the next step… Read more »

Jan
Jan
9 years ago

You are more like me- and Kris like my husband. I travel about six times a year (usually to family- but sometimes just anywhere). He loves to be home. Fortunately,he also loves to mow the 19 acres that we live on. My wanderlust does take a toll on our marriage- but after 29 years it is what it is. I finally evaluated it. He spends his allowance on tools and house. I spend it on travel. We both maintain the house- and will until the day he dies. I think if the house went- so would our marriage. That “expense”… Read more »

almost there
almost there
9 years ago
Reply to  Jan

We are the opposite couple. I joke with my wife that if she were to pass on before me I would gut the house of 90% of the contents and downsize to a smaller home. I would then travel. What stops me now is attending an old dog, and very old parents. My spouse is still bringing in items from her father’s estate that has yet to settle after over four years. My parents expect us kids to take the contents of their nearly 6 decades of clutter. I envy your ability to travel as we stopped working at 50… Read more »

Holly
Holly
9 years ago

I’ve been through several rounds of this, as I’ve moved from the idealistic young woman with time on her hands to the overburdened middle-aged working mother. I actually love Tammy’s tiny house idea. Try it, see if you like it. Maybe you put it in the garden at Rosings (which would make it a plus as an “in-law apt” or guest space when you sell), or in a woodsy spot outside the city, but close enough for you & Kris to see each other regularly and you can keep for a vacation home if you move back to Rosings.) As… Read more »

Louisa
Louisa
9 years ago

When my husband and I owned a large home in suburban Seattle in the late 70s, I was very unhappy. It was too big, too sprawling, too boring and too middle-class for the person I felt I was. At the time, I signed a quitclaim deed, so that he was the owner and I paid him rent. It was a mistake to buy it, but before we could sell it, we gradually moved into the living room. Created our own little cocoon of an apartment there. Would have moved the stove and the fridge in there if we could. The… Read more »

Andrea
Andrea
9 years ago

About the goats, folks … remember that these animals are SMART (and LOUD) and not necessarily the best choice for a non-farm situation! Sheep might be a better fit, don’t have to worry about out-thinking them 🙂

cerb
cerb
9 years ago
Reply to  Andrea

Andrea’s right…also, goats are browsers not grazers, that means they eat leaves, not grass. If you turned sheep and goats loose on your property, sheep would eat the grass, goats would eat the shrubs and trees. I love goats, we have 9 of them, but nobody should acquire an animal without doing thorough research first.

sajeev
sajeev
9 years ago

nice house that is….

MissPinkKate
MissPinkKate
9 years ago

Given that you and Kris keep separate finances, would it make you happier if she paid more toward the house, freeing up more of your money for other things?

LauraElle
LauraElle
9 years ago
Reply to  MissPinkKate

How is that fair? They both own the home, both live there and are both responsible for it.

MissPinkKate
MissPinkKate
9 years ago
Reply to  LauraElle

To me, it wouldn’t be fair, but maybe to them, it would be! Who knows!

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  MissPinkKate

No. Kris pays her fair share, and she shoulders much of the workload around the house. That’s not the issue. The issue is I don’t like my share of the work because it detracts from other things I’d rather be doing. (Which, fortunately, make me money.)

AC
AC
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Maybe you and Kris should set up another “laundry agreement.”

LauraElle
LauraElle
9 years ago

I think once you don’t have to do the yard work anymore, you’ll be fine. The benefits of outsourcing a chore you loathe (if you can afford to) are well worth it.

Callie
Callie
9 years ago

One thing that always makes me fall in love with my house is redecorating a room (albeit on the cheap). I’ve become somewhat of an expert at redoing a room (paint, drapery, and furniture) for a $200-300 bucks and in the end it always becomes such a source of pride and pleasure. An added bonus is that it forces me to go through and organize/donate/sell the stuff in that room. Not that decorating is your thing, but perhaps there are other small projects or improvements that would reconnect you to your home.

D
D
9 years ago

You are so right on about not being able to predict what your future self will want or where you’ll be. I recently went through a divorce (didn’t predict that) and live in a 1bd apt. I’m saving up for the house I’ve always wanted. I have the perfect Tumbleweed house picked out – even have a framed pic of it to inspire me. A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend about how as single people everything for the household falls on us – grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing the car, etc. I’m already so busy… Read more »

Amber
Amber
9 years ago
Reply to  D

Love the tumbleweed designs! They are very well thought-out and similar to the house I ended up purchasing. I am a single person in 440 square feet. I would say you have to enjoy efficient living, but it does not ever feel crowded or cramped. I try to make purchases of furniture sized to fit the space. I spend A LOT of time with my tape measure seeing if pieces will fit!!

phoenix
phoenix
9 years ago

J.D., my initial thought is why isn’t Kris contributing to funding the yardwork? If I remember correctly, you’re paying for cleaning because you’re not as tidy, but I don’t think it’s fair where you are still a seperate pots couple, you take care of cleaning support and yard crew. Yard work is one of those couple responsibilities (unless the couple decides that cleaning up inside for both people is one person’s responsibility and cleaning up outside for both is the other’s). On a different but similar note, I wonder if you are throwing out the baby with the bath water.… Read more »

Des
Des
9 years ago
Reply to  phoenix

DH and I live in 800 square feet and love(ed) it. We could clean the whole thing top to bottom in an hour or less, and all our space was well used. Until we got kids, that is. Now, it is feeling cramped. For us, 400 square feet per person feels about right if it is laid our well. YMMV.

David
David
9 years ago

Maybe you can look for a house swap in the Portland area? Consider what you would want in a new home and find someone looking for what you have. Swap houses for 1-4 weeks and continue about your normal lives. Even Kris may find it an interesting experiment.

You may find it’s a case of “you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”, and run back to your home. Kris may also be surprised with things she doesn’t miss.

Granted, such a short swap doesn’t consider the longer term factors like house maintenance and such.

No Debt MBA
No Debt MBA
9 years ago

If you can afford to pay someone to take over the tasks you find burdensome I think that might be a great partial solution. As for the extra rooms I’d say you should de-clutter and get rid of your stuff like you’re moving into a tiny house and then just ignore the extra rooms or turn them over for Kris’s use. If you have unused space, so what? Where you are living isn’t a huge part of your life, HOW you are living is. Changing how you live my satisfy the itch to change where you live. Challenging yourself within… Read more »

Jenny
Jenny
9 years ago

If I didn’t have to work, I’d do exactly what you’re considering doing: leave my homebody husband at home, and travel. 🙂 I think it’s a great idea! My hubby’s idea of financial freedom is being able to afford a big house and all the accoutrements; mine is to own as little as possible and travel the world. We meet in the middle by renting a medium-size house and traveling as much as our jobs/income will allow. You may just be experiencing a deep personal wanderlust; after a couple of extended solo trips, you may find that you like your… Read more »

olga
olga
9 years ago

It does sound like mid-life crisis, and as cliche as it sounds, it exists – purely because we evolve by the age of 40+. We also hope our SO would evolve in the same direction, and at approximately same speed. The “speed” is what I deal with (a.k.a. I am faster in my idea of “I need nothing”). But it is something that is much less overwhelming than different views at all. I don’t have a solution (who does?). Add on children involved, and ex-spouses, and it gets more complicated than you bargained for. I do know what my dream… Read more »

Megan
Megan
9 years ago

JD, you remind me of Pa Wilder from the Little House books. He wanted to keep moving West because he was such a nomad, but his wife wanted to stay in a town so their daughters could go to school. They compromised – they moved for a number of years, then stopped after about 15 years (I think) of marriage. Maybe you need to re-visit why you and Kris bought such a huge house in the first place. Was it too good to pass up? Did you have any plans for all that space? For instance, did either of you… Read more »

Quest
Quest
9 years ago

I do not know you personally but I enjoy reading your site and, in reading it, I have picked up specific clues in the things you have written. Seems to me that this is not all about the house but I won’t say any more than that…. Regarding the stuff, spend a little bit of time each day tackling a corner, a closet, Craigslisting bit by bit, filling a trash can or two, etc. I am a hoarder who has abandoned the hoarding mindset but it still takes time to rid oneself of the anchor stuff. After 3 years, I… Read more »

Anne
Anne
9 years ago

WOW. When you reach nirvana, don’t forget to write a post about its financial implications! You’re not growing. You’re just in a rather typical mid-life crisis. Some men buy a porsche. You want to find meaning with a bunch of strangers on the road. Good luck with that. People over and over have suggested you volunteer some of your time to your community and those in need. Instead you took a paid tour of a slum and posted pictures and videos of poor people (without their permission) for your financial gain. Readers have suggested you find people who are passionate… Read more »

s
s
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

JD, as well as purging stuff, have you considered screening for Adult ADHD? A great place to start is “Is IT You, Me or Adult ADD?”

http://adhdrollercoaster.org/about-2/

You have made some great steps in self-treatment – daily exercise, better eating, structuring your day.

theseven
theseven
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

“middle class ennui” is a real problem in this country. You don’t have to be such a bitch about it.

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
9 years ago
Reply to  theseven

What an ignorant misogynistic comment, and wholly inappropriate. Usually such base and distasteful language is not permitted on GRS, this is not an alley or a pool hall. A comment like that does not add any substance to this discussion. It’s telling that JD and/or moderators let this one through. It seems to be a double standard. We are cautioned to treat the authors of “reader stories” with respect and forewarned that unduly nasty comments will be deleted. What is more unduly nasty than calling someone a bitch. Since when is being candid only the province of men. A lot… Read more »

theseven
theseven
9 years ago
Reply to  DreamChaser57

Oh, sorry. She doesn’t have to be such an arrogant snot about it then. Dismissive and know- it- allish too.

Carly
Carly
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Anne was blunt, and a bit harsh, but I’m sorry – I agreed w/everything she said.

JD’s a bit “wrapped-up” in himself (and, let’s admit, self-absorption’s going to happen w/a successful blog that people want to HEAR all about your life).

Jacci
Jacci
9 years ago
Reply to  Carly

I hate to pile on JD, but Anne is right. When I read the article about the world domination summit, I couldn’t help but notice the undercurrent of me, me and more me. I agree it is very important to follow your heart and pursue interests that make you happy, but your wife should be one of the biggest sources of your happiness. I am sure you could find a way as a couple and individually to pursue your (and kris’) interests. Maybe in addition to getting rich slowly, you should also try to gain contentment. I LOVE your blog… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Thank you for saying what I was feeling; sometimes it takes harsh words to break through the navel-gazing. In AA there is a term called doing a geographical — the person moves or changes his life circumstances and is surprised to find that he is still as dissatisfied as before. Spend an afternoon at a soup kitchen or visiting patients on a cancer ward and write about that, JD, please. You have a lot going for you, but you risk losing it all. Keeping the house is a no brainer — your wife loves it and you love her and… Read more »

Anne 2
Anne 2
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Man, a little harsh.
Another Anne

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

It’s okay. Anne’s not saying anything I haven’t though already. I disagree re: taking action, though. (I feel like I take more action on things than nearly anyone I know!) But I’m well-aware that there’s some serious self-centeredness going on here. I can’t change what I feel, though. I’m not going to subvert me needs and emotions just because other people think they’re wrong. I have to do what’s right for me, yes? And right now, that means a path of self-discovery. Anne’s comment may seem harsh, but it’s no harsher than the things I’ve already thought. I am my… Read more »

E. Murphy
E. Murphy
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

” I have to do what’s right for me.”

Did you hear yourself say that?

That’s sometimes the beginning of the end of a relationship.

Frugal Texas Gal
Frugal Texas Gal
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I’m not going to subvert me needs

But…youre not a me, youre part of a couple. The above phrase speaks volumes. Subverting me needs (or frankly, in your case, wants it sounds like) is part of living in the world. You get to have some of what you want, but not all.

I would love to hear Kris speak on this outside of your hearing.

theseven
theseven
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

BTW, You should add a down-vote link to go along with your up-vote link. There are so many wrong comments in this thread and no way to down vote!

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
9 years ago
Reply to  theseven

Having a “down” vote for commentary would put this illustrious blog on par with You Tube. *frighteningly shudders*
One of the things I absolutely love about GRS is that the commentary is usually quite substantive and very diverse. There is no tyranny of the majority here. Everyone’s contributions should be equally valued. I think having a “down” vote would force the commentary, GRS’s best feature, to devolve.

Brent
Brent
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

J.D., First, I’ve been reading your blog for at least 3 years and think very highly of you and your accomplishments. Here is how I interpret your recent history and current situation: You have impulsive and compulsive tendencies. The result, many years ago, was that you found yourself in debt. You thought that you needed comic books, so you bought them. You turned your compulsive tendency to buy stuff into an all out war on debt, a very good thing. Once out of debt, you needed a new avenue to channel your compulsive nature towards and you chose fitness and… Read more »

Rosa Rugosa
Rosa Rugosa
9 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Well said, Brent.

Karen T.
Karen T.
9 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Right on target, Brent, and said in a non-judgmental way as well.

s
s
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

“I can’t change what I feel”

Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. It is how one acts on those feelings that makes all the difference and, when a person is married, those actions affect two lives.

Sounds to me like a touch of “I’m bored, let’s have a problem” thinking.

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Just take a gander at the current divorce rates, and it’s evident that creating a successful and fulfilling marriage with enough elasticity to allow for individual growth/evolution is quite a challenge.
My only advice would be to reciprocate the patience and restraint that Kris did when you were making disastrous money decisions for prolonged lengths of time.

Shara
Shara
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Actually you CAN change how you feel. I’m sure you have over any number of things, so that statement is just silly. And don’t subvert your needs and emotions because other people think they’re wrong, but if you look up from your belly button and decide for yourself that they are wrong. None of us can have the whole story, but the things you are setting out are potentially hurtful to your mate if she subverts HER desires to yours. And as for doing what’s right for you: Absolutely not. You need to do what is right, period. Sometimes that… Read more »

Anne
Anne
9 years ago
Reply to  Shara

Very interesting. I’ll also add that people change how they feel all the time – with work. Like gaining control over any aspect of a life that is out of balance, it takes work. Sometimes our feelings are a great barometer and other times they aren’t. Life isn’t a sitcom or a motivational speech. It’s messy. it’s why studies show we’re bad at predicting what we want. Our feelings mislead us. People who suffer from anxiety change their feelings. Sure, for some it often takes drugs to help the process along. (Alas, there is no pill to help with middle… Read more »

almost there
almost there
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

I agree with the bluntness. Sometimes it takes well placed words to give a wakeup call. We in the United States are so well off compared to most of the world’s population that they want to come here because even our poor are fat (a sign of wealth in very poor countries). My question would be is JD just feeling wanderlust because maybe most of the people he met at the conference were able to drop things at a moments notice and trek off hither and yon? Perhaps most were single and not as tied down to property or spouse’s… Read more »

Christine T.
Christine T.
9 years ago
Reply to  almost there

There is a theory that being underweight and being overweight are both signs of malnourishment. You eat more and more empty calorie food and your body will crave food until you get the nutrients you need.

Tom
Tom
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

I don’t agree at all with the tone of this comment; I think we have to take care of ourselves to care for others and that we should admire J.D. for having the courage to write honestly about his struggles as he tries to learn to do both.

AdamD
AdamD
9 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Thank you!
As soon as I read this article I thought ‘mid-life crisis’. We all reach plateaus of experience where we grow tired of our lives, and all JD had done is replace the constant desire for material goods with something equally bad.

‘I remain discontented.’ So? Nobody is ever content! That’s the reason everyone does *everything*.

Misty
Misty
9 years ago

I so relate to your frustration and overwhelmed feeling of having so much stuff. I have been going thru that this last year. I can’t seem to get rid of things fast enough. I have had to remind myself that it took time to collect and it is going to take time to sell, cull and get rid of. Somehow none of these things interest me anymore. I don’t know why, but I have changed. Why can I go away on vacation and be happy with very little, but have to have ALL THIS STUFF at my casa??? Something is… Read more »

Jenny @ exconsumer
Jenny @ exconsumer
9 years ago

I can’t wait to see how this unfolds for you J.D. My husband and I are in much of the same predicament — I would like to travel and not have so much house to take care of, and he likes things the way they are. And regarding the dreaded *stuff* that fills a house – I’m with you. I would love to empty all of the crap that fills our basement, garage and unoccupied bedroom upstairs. The stuff we’ve accumulated throughout our lives becomes stifling. We’ve stopped allowing new stuff in, but we have the stuff that’s already here… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
9 years ago

I’ve been doing this for five years -it’s part of the long-term goal of moving to a smaller place – and it’s very rewarding, all on its own. Go for it!

There’s a great community of unclutters at unclutterer.com (along with Erin Dolan’s excellent articles) and I know there are other commenters there who read JD’s blog as well.

Frugal Texas Gal
Frugal Texas Gal
9 years ago

Hmm..as someone who may not have been reading as long as some others, I’ll agree that some of your posts imply a developing gap between your and your wife’s intersts and goals. Thats not in and of itself terrible..my late husband took long ski trips by himself and I took quilting road trips alone for years. But still. Also, I agree with others about elminating what you dont like doing. And not just the mowing. If its something that Kris doesnt love as well, even cleaning the house, source it out. And relook at the house and what rooms can… Read more »

Matt
Matt
9 years ago

J.D. – I guess I’m a little puzzled as to *what* you don’t like about the house. Given that Kris has a job that requires living in one place (ie you can’t be permanent nomads), you have to plunk yourself down somewhere. It seems to me like you’ve generalized too much about why you’re not happy with the house. I’d really urge you to figure out which thing is bugging you before you take drastic action. I don’t know if you’ve taken the time to list SPECIFICALLY why you don’t like the house or not – but I’d urge you… Read more »

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago

I think I’m missing something in this post. I’m reading that the yard work for this home is too much trouble and travelling to different lands is more your style. Your wife wants to stay as she has a good job but you can work anywhere. So, the answer is to potentially get rid of the house and move. But you’re not sure where or what type of dwelling. I have to agree with Anne above- you’re BORED. If you can pay the bills, travel a bit for a vacation, live in a safe neighborhood, why go someplace else? I’ve… Read more »

Sally JPA
Sally JPA
9 years ago

Well, this post reminds me of my own personality traits. A few thoughts: Would it interest you and Kris to use up some of your rooms trying out hosting visiting students, faculty, etc., from other countries? I wonder if you could build a better sense of adventure in your current house while making good use of its space, while also reinvigorating you about your own area as a sort of ambassador for it. While I doubt you want a second lake HOUSE or anything so invested, what about a fairly minimalist pied a terre in a city you love? (Or,… Read more »

Kylie
Kylie
9 years ago

I’ve got a pretty strong opinion on this: never buy or build your dream home. My husband and I have four houses. Three of them are rented to tenants and the fourth is our current home. We’ve done things like bathroom and closet renovations and simple landscaping to make the homes more comfortable for us and appealing for other people. Our houses are nice, but they’re not “dream” homes which is how we like it. As a consequence, we have no strong emotional ties to our properties. When it’s time to move on and explore something different, we’ll rent out… Read more »

rkt88edmo
rkt88edmo
9 years ago

JD – How about instead of a tiny house for yourself – you can build a small caretakers cottage? There are folks who love tending plants and you could get a great caretaker garden partner. Plus if it doesn’t offset the cost completely you would have a small stream of income, and who doesn’t love additional diversified streams of income 🙂 Since you don’t need the income you can take your time and be very picky about the occupant. It sounds like you have a unique and desireable space that would attract folks who want a foot in both the… Read more »

Ely
Ely
9 years ago

I empathize with the “gap”. I would love to have a smaller house and yard, but my husband would like them bigger. I don’t mind staying home and traveling locally, he wants to see the world. I could purge everything, and he has boxes and boxes of “keepsakes.”
Fortunately neither of us feels so strongly about it that we’re not happy with the middle ground. Sure it could be better, but it could be worse so I’ll take it as it is.

Carly
Carly
9 years ago

Yikes. I see a lot of “I, I, I” in the article, then Kris is mentioned in a few sentences. I have to get this off my chest: this does not look good for you two, especially if one of your solutions is “Solo Travel”. Ie: even though you’re doing everything YOU want, you’re still doing the mid-life Crisis thing. Then, part of the solution is to move bit-by-bit, then sell the rest? What woman/spouse wants to live like THAT??

MissPinkKate
MissPinkKate
9 years ago
Reply to  Carly

Moving for 6 months straight sounds like HELL. If you don’t like doing housework (and who does, really?), that’s going to be a terrible solution. Moving should be like ripping off a band-aid- do it fast and get it over with.

Rachael
Rachael
9 years ago

I didn’t read all the replies, so not sure if someone already suggested this… u guys could consider renting-out you’re current home & try renting smthing else for your selves. I don’t know if that’s an option in this market. That way you don’t lose your current place & aren’t tied to smthing new. Allowing u 2 change ur mind. Some days I feel the same way & my husband is my ‘Kris’ in the situation. It’s not my husband’s or Kris’s problem/ fault/ issue that they don’t feel/ change the exact same way. You must definitely consider ur spouse’s… Read more »

JP
JP
9 years ago

Your Fantasy vs. Reality link is busted. 🙂

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