How quickly wants can turn to needs

As some of you know, Courtney and I recently spent just under a year traveling abroad with our two-year-old daughter. A couple of months ago, we returned home to Indiana and decided that we’d take a six month break from our mobile lifestyle. Our decision meant we needed to start looking for short-term rentals that would meet our temporary needs.

When we started to browse rental options, we created a list divided into Wants and Needs. Some of the Needs included things like two bedrooms, a safe neighborhood, flexible lease terms, and some sort of yard or grass.

Note: Technically, these aren’t raw Needs. While traveling we spent weeks in a tent, months in a spare bedroom of another family’s house, and dozens of nights in 100-square-foot single rooms. But these few items were basic enough conveniences that we felt comfortable labeling them Needs for our situation.

Under Wants we placed criteria like a standalone house, a fenced-in back yard, a one-car garage, and proximity to decent sidewalks or paths. Remember, we weren’t buying a permanent home: We were searching for a quick six-month stop.

As we started to comb through different properties on the market, I said to Courtney, “You know, it would be so nice to have a separate work area where I could go to write. I don’t need it, but it would be nice.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d voiced this desire. Courtney had to put up with my complaining for the last year about not having designated work space. It was primarily an excuse for procrastination or lack of motivation, but there was a part of me that wanted to see what it would be like to have a specific space for my work.

A Want Becomes a Need

After mentioning it a couple of more times, we agreed to expand our search to two bedrooms with bonus rooms, offices, or even large closets (yes, I’m serious). In general, a two bedroom home with a bonus room or office will be cheaper rent than a comparable three-bedroom place.

Even with a background in real estate, it can be hard to search for houses with extra rooms. Each owner, agent, or listing may refer to the space in a different way. Often these homes have unique floor plans, and it’s nearly impossible to understand them unless you visit each home individually. Finding matches was difficult.

Out of frustration at the lack of two-bedroom options that also included a bonus room, I allowed myself to do something that changed everything: I expanded our search to three-bedroom rentals. Suddenly, the flood gates were opened.

After a couple of days searching all of the new options, I called my friend/ex-partner in real estate and gave him several listings. I remember saying something like, “I know we could fit into two bedrooms, but we really need three bedrooms these days.”

It had happened. Of the five listings I sent to him to schedule showings, not a single one of them had only two bedrooms. Somehow over the course of just a few weeks, I’d managed to shift our Needs from two bedrooms to three bedrooms. My attitude had changed.

In our market, we could have easily found a two-bedroom rental in the $600/month range. Our current rent (on the three-bedroom rental we selected) is $900/month. For those of you counting, that’s a 50% increase — or around $300/month.

An Indulgence

For me, the issue isn’t the extra money per month. It’s a matter of perspective. We aren’t going to be financially ruined by this choice, and we’re paying for other benefits in that increase. But, I want to be sure that I view our rental for what it is: a Want. Heck, we could even label it a luxury for us.

If I continue to view this as a Need, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. For example, the air conditioner takes hours to cool anything, the lighting is terrible in the home, and the garage doesn’t have an automatic opener. If I were to take the situation for granted and focus on the negatives, it would be easy for my standard of living to creep even higher and higher.

In retrospect, if I see this home for what it really is — an indulgence — those little things lose their importance. I appreciate my little workspace so much more. I appreciate the fact the my daughter Milligan can play out back, and that we have space to host guests.

The truth is, for our family of three, anything more than a safe, one-bedroom home with a roof, heat, and simple kitchen is a luxury. It’s a Want, not a Need. By realizing that, we can stop taking things for granted, and start being thankful for what we have.

But shelter is just one area of our budget where this shift in thinking can happen. Luckily, this experience has helped me become more aware in other areas, such as Food, Clothing, and Transportation, where my definition of Need can easily grow beyond what is truly needed.

Indulgences in life are great. I’ve met very few people who want to live at the bare minimum level of their Needs. But taking steps to ensure we recognize our indulgences as indulgences allows us to appreciate how lucky we truly are!

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There are 42 comments to "How quickly wants can turn to needs".

  1. Mike Choi says 28 May 2010 at 04:24

    Interesting article as I am thinking about taking a mini-retirement too and travel abroad. What made you decide to take a break from the mobile lifestyle?

    On a Side note, this line needs to be corrected:”For those of you counting, that’s a 150% increase”

    When you go from $600 $900 it is a %50 increase

  2. Traciatim says 28 May 2010 at 05:01

    Mike already beat me to it, but 900 is 150% of 600, the increase to go from 600 to 900 is 50%.

  3. J.D. says 28 May 2010 at 05:29

    Oops. Thanks for the math correction. That slipped past editing, but I’ve fixed it now! 🙂

  4. MRH says 28 May 2010 at 05:34

    I worked at a good job with what I consider a good salary. I have a bunch of co-workers who whine about how it’s not enough to live on.

    What I realized is that it’s good enough for one indulgence. You can either live alone in the city, travel, have a fancy car and drive to work, or a fancy wardrobe – but pick one and enjoy it!

    I find it is easier for me to keep the budget trim in other areas if I have an area where I am indulging. It’s easier not to spend when I know that I chose to have a house with a yard, so I’m bringing lunch to work, eating in, using Zipcar instead of buying.

  5. Joel Runyon says 28 May 2010 at 05:59

    It’s funny how one thing can lead to another that leads to another and suddenly you’re in a whole different scenario than you were before.

    I recently have been thinking about going car-free. It’s been a sort-of want/curiousness in me to think about what it’s like.

    Yesterday my car died and repairs are $$$ so suddenly that car-free idea sound much more like a need =)

    Same idea, different scenario.

  6. Gauri says 28 May 2010 at 06:04

    I think your last lines are extremely important. If you have the money it really is OK to buy things that qualify as “indulgences”. After all, as JD says often money is just a tool. But the key is too understand the difference between wants and needs (not a very easy thing) and be thankful for being able to satisfy the wants.

  7. Everyday Tips says 28 May 2010 at 06:07

    Its funny because with a house, it doesn’t seem like you know what you need or want until you live in it. Right now, we have a traditional colonial and we never use the living room/dining room. However, we have 3 kids and really wanted four bedrooms, and the houses with 4 bedrooms here all pretty much come with the living/dining room combo. Plus, I hear having a dining room is good for resale, so I guess it works out. But I can go weeks without ever going into those rooms.

    I think you will like having a 3 bedroom house. I think having a productive work space is very important.

    I admire your ability to be mobile for so long! Our roots are so deep here it would take an earthquake to get us out.

  8. Kelly says 28 May 2010 at 06:08

    I think your time abroad gives you a perspective many Americans don’t have.

    Of course there are people who live with much less in the US, but it’s not always obvious.

    When we purchased our home we looked for over a year. We could have spent the same money on something with over 1,000 square feet more, but we would be far from everything.

    The house needs a ton of work, but it’s worth it to be somewhere that is such a great location.

  9. Ami Kim says 28 May 2010 at 06:10

    Great perspective Adam. I’m guessing that every want that was clearly a luxury during your life on the road will start inching toward the need category, the longer you stay in the States, with neighbors who might drive nice cars (2 per family), dress themselves and their kids in a particular way, eat and entertain in a particular way, etc.

    Luckily you recognize this potential. I’m with MRH #4 – I think allowing yourself one or two indulgences helps keep the overall budget under control. Of course, given that your indulgence was your office, I’d say be prepared for Courtney to identify a want/indulgence/need of her own (everyone should get their one thing) 🙂

  10. Tyler says 28 May 2010 at 06:19

    There is a definite bright side to your situation. While you are used to paying nothing for your housing, the $900 you are spending on a three-bedroom home would be getting you a mediocre one-bedroom apartment or a low quality two-bedroom apartment in another location!

  11. Kevin M says 28 May 2010 at 06:34

    This is similar to JD renting an office space when he admittedly has more than enough space in his home to have an office. If the separate office space makes you more productive and your business thrives because of it, the extra cost is worth it. Good luck.

  12. Financial Samurai says 28 May 2010 at 06:47

    Can’t wait for you guys to go traveling again Baker! It’s much more fun for us. And I think it has to be much more fun than Indiana!

    My fear is that now you are settling, you will never travel again. Prove my fear wrong!


  13. Chiot's Run says 28 May 2010 at 06:54

    So very true! Mr Chiots and I bought a small 2 bedroom home when we first bought. Since we run 2 businesses and work from home, we need a bedroom for an office but we knew we didn’t need any more space (we don’t have guests that often). Of course when we have guests over it would be nice to have a third bedroom so they don’t have to sleep on the floor, but not worth all the extra cash each month.

    We’ve watched all of our friends upgrade their starter homes to something larger because they “need” it. We’re happy to stay here, the truth is we’re comfortable and with each increase in size comes not just an increase in the cost of the home but also the utlities, more heating/cooling, which is money we’re not willing to spend. Our focus is to pay off this house, hopefully by the end of this year (after 9 years here) and start saving for some acreage in the country.

    Because of our choice to keep our standards of living from inflating from needs to wants, we should meet our goal of living in a nicely built small cottage on 40-80 acres in the country and have it 100% paid off in 10 years. Most of our friends will most likely have upgraded homes another time or two and they’ll still be paying on huge mortgage while we will be living debt free.

    This idea can also scale down to things like cell phones, computers and things and gadgets. Sure Mr Chiots would love to have a iPhone, but the reality is that it’s really not worth the huge monthly bill just to be able to check your e-mail when you’re out. Our $10/month phones on the family plan with my family is good enough for us.

    Sometimes a little less now means a whole lot more later, especially freedom and peace of mind. You just have to decide if it’s worth it to you.

  14. elisabeth says 28 May 2010 at 07:00

    I think (once you are out of debt) regularly satisfying at least one want should be classified as a need.
    Our emotional/psychological health requires sources of joy, and I don’t think satisfying just our needs can bring joy.
    “Wants” don’t have to cost much, either, especially if what you want is free time or time with a loved one — but they should never be ignored, I think, and becoming a miserable miser should be avoided!

  15. Money Smarts says 28 May 2010 at 07:26

    I think you’re 100% right on how our wants can quickly become needs. For us, a glaring example is our vacations. While you don’t NEED to go on a big vacation every year, we wanted to. And that want quickly became a need. If we didn’t go on our yearly vacation to some far-off locale, we ended up being grumpy about it, and in the dumps. In reality – we’ve traveled a lot more than some people do in their whole lifetimes, we’ve become a bit spoiled.

    On the other hand, I think it’s ok to budget in for some wants every now and again – if you’ve worked hard, budgeted for it and other priorities aren’t being lost in the shuffle, why not!

  16. RJ Weiss says 28 May 2010 at 07:29

    A similar situation happened to me when I was looking for apartments a while back. We set a budget of $1000 a month. We didn’t find anything we liked in that range. So we moved up to $1100. Still didn’t find anything. Finally moved up to $1200 and found a great place. Of course we ended up getting a place that costs $1200 a month.

    The $1000 a month apartments had everything we needed, but once we saw the difference in $1200 we had to have them.

  17. deborah d. lattimore says 28 May 2010 at 07:35

    I love your columns! I found you through the Happiness Project website.

    Your writing rang true to me, maybe with a different slant. I was a workaholic and extremely frugal until diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery and a year of aggressive treatment. Now some of my “wants” have morphed into “needs” when it comes to quality of life and how I want to spend my time and where. Whereas I used to postpone vacations or visits with my grown children because of work, I no longer postpone any kind of joy and I never say no to opportunities that strengthen a relationship or enable me to explore the world. Cancer was a great wake-up call, and I’m grateful, not only for these big awakenings, but for the small gratitudes too, like no longer having my days punctuated by weekly chemo or daily radiation. I agree with your reader Elisabeth – it’s so important to satisfy and nurture joy. Right after my cancer treatment ended, my oldest son and I returned to Paris, a trip we had actually kept postponing for eight years. I’ve traveled more in this last year than in the last few years combined. I know it sounds weird, but I thank cancer every day for this new life. I kept a blog every day and that was such a joy.

    I look forward to your column every day!

  18. Jean at The Delightful Repast says 28 May 2010 at 08:05

    Came to your excellent post via Ami of 40 Days to Change. Yes, we Americans are very spoiled indeed. Our society would be far happier if we could appreciate all our indulgences rather than feel entitled to them. I think indulgences should be saved for and anticipated, not enjoyed immediately and paid for later.

  19. Tyler Karaszewski says 28 May 2010 at 08:10

    This is why I don’t like this financial distinction that people try to make between ‘want’ and ‘need’ (and especially that ‘balanced money formula’ that occasionally comes up). It’s because it’s all mutable and subjective. The word ‘need’ by itself means nothing. It requires a goal to go along with it, i.e. “I need X to accomplish Y”. Your most basic needs are the things that you need to keep yourself alive. You need just enough shelter to keep out of the weather, just enough clothing to keep warm, a moderate amount of nutritious food, access to medical care, and that’s about it.

    Anything beyond that is only a need if it’s conditional on some other goal. Like “I need a car to commute to work”, it’s only true if you’ve decided that commuting to work is a goal you’re not willing to give up — plenty of people around the world survive without this. Your car’s only a ‘need’ because it’s required to satisfy a completely elective goal of living far away from work, in an area with poor public transit.

    This isn’t to say that buying a car and living in the suburbs is a bad choice (I do it myself), it’s just to say that these things are all electives and not actually required, so calling them ‘needs’ doesn’t really mean anything. I could save money on a car by renting one of the apartments across the street from my office. I just don’t want to live there.

    Baker’s right — perspective is important, and nothing gives perspective like spending some time in a third world country. Be conscious of what you’re able to have and recognize that almost none of it is a basic need. Almost everything we concern ourselves with day-to-day is elective, it’s not helping to keep us alive, we just enjoy it.

  20. Jackie says 28 May 2010 at 08:48

    I had to laugh at you considering a closet as your workspace, because I did work in a (literal) closet for a few years. I actually liked it, except that it got a little hot during the summers. That turned closets into a luxury for me.

    I think enjoying luxuries is great, so long as they don’t prevent you from being in good financial shape.

  21. erika says 28 May 2010 at 08:51

    This post (an excellent one, by the way) reminded me of a phrase I read here at GRS that has helped me control my finances: “You can have anything you want, you just can’t have EVERY thing you want.” I’ve actually been using it to help me ease up on my miserly tendencies and begin to view money as a tool to be spent rather than an item to be collected, but I think it clearly applies to this situation, as well. Telling yourself that you can have anything you want is very freeing and could help relieve some of the feelings of sacrifice. Just keep reminding yourself WHY you are making the trade off (“I’m not going out to dinner, but that money will help fund my next vacation”), and it feels like less of a miserly choice.

  22. Karen says 28 May 2010 at 09:49

    I totally agree with Tyler (comment #19)—a “want” vs a “need” can only be defined relative to some other goal. But that goal isn’t stated in the article!

    Is it your goal to spend as little money as possible? To have as little impact on the environment as possible? To live like someone in the 3rd world even though you aren’t?

    For myself, I believe that wisely spending money is a good thing for our society and our economy. I am against being a miser for no good reason–that’s called a waste of time or even avarice.

    If you aren’t in debt and you have a reasonable amount of savings for you and your family’s future, why not spend the money to make your life more pleasurable, easier, or productive?

  23. Jason Beck says 28 May 2010 at 10:09

    I assumed by the title of this article that we would talk about things like air conditioning (in your car) so I was pleasantly surprised by the living accommodations and perspective. I think of so many things that people “need” including cell phones and cable TV and AC in their car and home. As an exercise, I look over all the things I spend money on that my dad doesn’t and add them up. And it’s huge. Several thousands of dollars for EACH thing over the years. My dad lives without broadband, cable TV, a cell phone or a car newer than 13 years! And I can’t imagine how much more I’ve probably spent on clothes by 30 than he’s spent in a lifetime. He’s got family and purpose, and he’s happy. I could still learn a thing or two from this man.

  24. Debra says 28 May 2010 at 10:51

    Great post! Reminds me of an incident with my husband.

    Having never been on a cruise, I suggested one to him. “We can’t afford that — it’s thousands of dollars!” he replied. I was shocked because in my research the numbers came to under $1000 for the two of us. As it turns out, his “needs” and mine were — to put it kindly — divergent:

    * I wanted a quickie 5-day to Mexico since we could drive to the embarkation point, while he “needed” 10 days to Alaska (which would require flying to Vancouver).

    * I was fine with an interior cabin (heck, wasn’t planning to do anything but sleep in there!), but he needed a suite.

    * I was willing to travel during the off-season. He needed to travel during the the height of tourist season.

    * I was looking at Carnival cruise lines, but he felt they were too low-class.

    By considering his wants as needs, it made a cruise out of reach for us.

    (Epilogue: In frustration, I finally arranged a trip with a girlfriend. We cruised to Cabo San Lucas and had a fantastic 5 days; it cost me about $400. Husband: “I can’t believe you went on a cruise without me.”)

  25. Ace @ says 28 May 2010 at 10:53

    Adam, I have to say that I am impressed. It takes a lot to be able to look back at your past decisions and admit that you’ve taken an indulgence. I think that for many of us, we have a tendency to go in the opposite direction, when we look back at past decisions. Rather than saying, “I wonder if 3 bedrooms is more than we need right now”, we tend to say, “We have a growing family, and we’ve always wanted more space….” and so on.

    This was a great lesson for you to share with all of us so that hopefully we will all be more aware of indulgence creeping into our lives.

  26. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says 28 May 2010 at 11:04

    My husband and I started our budget with the actual “needs” (utility bills, food, cars since we work away from the bus schedule in Houston, gasoline, car insurance, etc). Then we added the “luxuries” by prioritizing what we really wanted (3 bedroom house, biweekly housekeeper, biweekly lawn care).

    We left out a ton of other wants in order to get the ones that were most important to us. We love our home and all all our little luxuries…it really does make them that much sweeter when you know you picked them since you liked them the most…

  27. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says 28 May 2010 at 11:08

    Debra, I am so glad you went on the cruise with a friend!!! Didn’t your hubby hear about your great time and adjust his “needs”?

    My husband and I are taking a 7 day Carnival Cruise this summer for about $2000 total since he’s a teacher and really couldn’t pull it off during the off-season – we enjoyed the 5 day one we went on last year too (that was about $1500 total). I’m with you, off-season cruising is one of the least expensive luxurious vacations ever! 🙂

  28. Lauren Muney, behavior change specialist says 28 May 2010 at 11:14

    Congratulations for finding either price range ($600 or $900). Where I live, either one is usually in a bad neighborhood, broken building, and/or can’t be trusted. Heck, Craigslist *scams* feature $900 prices.

    That being said, it is important to make sure that wants/needs are carefully considered. While sometimes ‘want a separate office’ actually is a need: “Need a quiet place to work”. Make sure that the attention is realistic, and the price may make the difference between ‘getting work done’ or ‘being frustrated by not getting any work done’

  29. Bill says 28 May 2010 at 11:19

    The headline is “How Quickly Wants Can Turn to Needs”. I never thought of a house with more than one bedroom as a luxury. Get real. Why even get a house just rent a movable storage pod and live in that.

  30. the other Tammy says 28 May 2010 at 11:20

    Our situation was kind of backwards…we bought our 3 bedroom fixer-upper house when we were newly married, and we rattled around in it. It has a foyer and two bedrooms we didn’t use, plus a nice finished workshop in the garage that we also did not use other than to store junk.
    Fast forward five years…both empty bedrooms are filled with kids, the empty foyer is now my husband’s office (now self employed and working from home), and the unused workshop is now the base of our computer repair business.
    It seems like the things that were wants to begin with grew into needs as our family grew and changed. Our old house is still rather a money pit, but I think we made some good choices looking down the road.

  31. Sam says 28 May 2010 at 11:48

    And of course a want that turns into a need often requires more wants and needs.

    A three bedrrom home often triggers purchases of additional furniture, to furnish those rooms, likely a want. And then you end up needing more in utilities to heat/cool the extra room. So the extra $300 a month doesn’t even account for the furniture costs and increased utilities (unless utilities are incldued).

    Not that having more wants and needs is bad, my concern is when wants become needs which become fixed costs.

    With a six month rental the extra money you are paying for that extra room is finite. But when you buy a larger home than you need to you take on car loan, lease payments, other fixed costs like private school for the kids, country club costs, etc. All of a sudden you end up with very high fixed costs and if you enter a downturn (like the recent economic downturn) you end up in trouble.

  32. chacha1 says 28 May 2010 at 14:37

    @ Debra #24 LOL oh sigh! sometimes you can’t win! Well, you had fun anyway, right?

    DH and I tripped over a similar issue to Baker. We “needed” a bigger apartment. Really, we just needed a BETTER apartment; the one we were in was heinous.

    But … we went from the heinous $1450/mo 1-bedroom to a $2100/mo 2 bedroom that actually had twice the square footage, plus secure parking and entry, plus safe outdoor space for the cats, plus A/C, plus a 2nd bathroom … . There’s room for us to meet with clients, to have dinner parties, to practice our dancing, to easily accommodate overnight guests.

    It is still more space than we “need,” and I certainly don’t want anything bigger. I’m hoping we can stay in this place until we actually leave town, ’cause it would be hard to beat.

  33. TR says 28 May 2010 at 16:52

    Amazing how much of a difference location makes. It’s very hard to imagine a $1450/mo 1BR apartment being “heinous”.

  34. TosaJen says 28 May 2010 at 17:25

    I don’t know if you’ve signed a lease yet, but we found that a walk-in closet with a window, a door, and a coat of red paint made a more-than-adequate office when I was working from home, even with two kids.

    To your main point — we’ve found it very important to keep our eye on both our luxuries and our necessities. With two kids, our needs and wants change as the kids grow, not to mention our priorities.

  35. David/MoneyCrashers says 28 May 2010 at 18:18

    If one is completely out of debt, letting those “wants” slide into the “needs” column is not such a big deal.

    However, to me, this was a KEY to getting out of debt. Honestly assessing each “need” and determining whether it is not truly a “want” that can be put off till later.

    I consider the shifting of “wants” to “needs” as kind of a gift for the hard work of getting out of debt.

  36. cherie says 28 May 2010 at 19:18

    excellent example of how perspectives can change – thanks for sharing it!

  37. basicmoneytips says 28 May 2010 at 20:18

    Interesting article, I will say the writer does not seem to be over indulging too much here At least he realizes what is going on and can probably still keep a good handle on things.

  38. Leah says 29 May 2010 at 08:42

    re: #23, Jason:

    I forgo A/C in my home, but I definitely consider it a need in the car. I use it mostly when highway/freeway driving (speeds of 45 mph+). At one point in life, I didn’t use my car A/C on the freeway. Then, I took a road trip. I spent a good hour sweltering and mentioned that to my dad during a quick phone call. He said “just turn on the darn A/C.” It was either that or consume gallons of water to replace what I was sweating out. So, while I really dislike A/C, I definitely find it a need while in my car.

    Now, if I were just driving 5-10 minutes on city streets to work, that’d be another story . . . but if I had that short of a commute, I’d be biking to work (and I did when I worked that close).

    I like this article a lot for the jumping off point of thinking about what is required and what is nice. We all have different needs, and it’s important to make sure we’re balancing the costs of our own needs/wants. Leverage your money to help your life, yes. But don’t pour money into something that is vastly more than what you need.

  39. says 29 May 2010 at 11:10

    My friends like to laugh at me because i wash out zip-lock baggies, they are only $1 a box they say laughing. Well maybe so, but for $1 i can buy 1 box of zip-locks (a need for me)..then reuse them over and over and the dollar i saved by not having to immediately purchase another box (need)… well with that i purchase my (want), a bag of jelly beans…

    It’s all in how you look at things…

  40. Karen says 31 May 2010 at 11:46

    Actually, sometimes wants do become needs. Case in point: cell phones. When they first came out, they were a want, but as people got them more and more, I found myself shut out of plans with others and having difficulty internet dating because everyone expected me to have a cell phone. I know that when I finally got a cell phone, years after everyone else, it was a need and not a want. Because I still did NOT want it! I just felt that I had to maintain at least my normal level of social connection, and the rest of the world had switched to doing that in a way that cost money. Sure, it could be a hedonic treadmill, but it’s everyone else that got on the treadmill first. I just eventually was forced to follow.

  41. Sam says 03 June 2010 at 12:15

    I’m still fighting the cell phone thing… when my 10yr old is in Jr high I think I’ll have to take the plunge to keep tabs on him with his sports. I think the things are evil – I don’t want to be interrupted to talk to someone on the phone (like when I’m grocery shopping or changing the litter box). I like my freedom & privacy… archaic terms in this day & age.
    I must be odd – anything that makes daily living more comfortable is a need to me – anything I don’t need to be comfortable is a want.
    I need a TV to watch occasional movies, see where tornadoes are, etc but I don’t need cable and all it’s filth.

  42. hmburgers says 04 June 2010 at 12:25

    “The truth is, for our family of three, anything more than a safe, one-bedroom home with a roof, heat, and simple kitchen is a luxury. It’s a Want, not a Need.”

    I agree, that on the level of healthy, secure & safe survival a family of 3 needs a 1 bedroom home.

    But I’d argue that in a modern society it will odd to have a family of 3 (albeit with 2 of 3 as a couple) living in a 1BR home… Where does your child live? In the living room? Kitchen? Hopefully not in your bedroom…

    I’m having this debate now while looking a starter home–We have been saying that we “need” 3BR because we would like 1-3 children so that means we’d need at least 1-2BR just for them, ideally a 3rd BR available for parents to stay for days/weeks at a time to help, or maybe as an office.

    So what do we really, truly need though? Right now 1BR. With children, we feel 2BR.

    That said, I have a dear friend who grew up in a 1BR, 4 room apartment–his parents had the bedroom, his sister had what would have been the dining room (which doubled as the living room as well), and he had what would have been the living room. So they turned the 3 rooms of that house into bedrooms. It wasn’t easy, but it’s what they could afford and they made do.

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