I was going to call this post “Real Estate Porn” but figured it would be better not to have the word “porn” in the url (Persephone Magazine: staying just this side of SFW since 2010!). I hope I’m not alone, though, in pursuing this particular guilty pleasure. All it entails is spending large blocks of time on the computer, looking at beautiful homes I could never afford. Homes with so many rooms they had to make up new names for rooms (what the eff is a “great room” anyway?).
True, it’s kind of weird (and pointless!) to spend hours looking at pictures of overpriced houses. But that’s why they’re called guilty pleasures, people. So, for me, the pursuit of this particular happiness takes roughly three forms, listed in a very particular order below.
FantasyDreamHouse – Ever since I was a child I’ve been adding to the list of features of my dream house. This is a dream house in the true sense of the term: it will honestly never be anything but a dream to me. So, I pick an affluent zip code, take off the upper limit to the price range, and commence clicking, drooling, and note-taking.
Turn ons: big kitchens, Beauty-and-the-Beast-sized library, spiral staircases, hedge mazes, waterslides
Turn offs: ostentatious entryways, great rooms, intercom systems, “outdoor kitchens”
What you’ll find while pursuing FantasyDreamHouse satisfaction is that sometimes your stupid real-life voice comes into your head. How long does it take to clean a place like that? What are their electric bills like? Do your best to ignore this voice; all it does is ruin the fantasy. (Also, if you start to feel too sad that you’re never going to be able to own a house like this, just remind yourself that those homes have probably been on the market for a year and their owners probably are losing a lot of money.)
Slightly Realistic House ““ This one is a little more poignant because it involves a more reality-based search tactic. After looking at houses I can’t have, I want to see what I can have. I’ll pick an area near where I live, and pick a price range that’s not disgustingly out of reach for my current financial situation. Then, I take a gander at what I could reasonably be trying to buy in the next few years. This one is less fun, but more fulfilling because there’s an echo of hope in it.
True, after looking at dream houses the smaller homes or condos seem less exciting. I start to make little mental upgrades and repairs to make them more enticing: Well, the backyard isn’t much to look at now, but after few months and some old-fashioned hard work we could have a respectable hedge maze on our hands. The thing is, when you live in a tiny apartment with your spouse, two pets, and too much stuff, you’re kind of in a holding pattern until you can move into somewhere bigger. Even small, frumpy houses look like palaces when your den, living room, dining room, guest room, and office are all the same room.
Compare and Contrast ““ After the realistic search leaves me a little despondent, I start looking for someone or something to blame. It occurs to me that it’s my city/region’s fault that I can’t afford a house. If I lived somewhere cheaper, I could have my dream house for a New York frump-house price! So, I pick an affordable zip code but keep the parameters of the realistic house, and see what pops up.
This search tactic is not recommended. It fuels bitterness, jealousy, and hastily-hatched plans to move upstate and live the simple life in an amazing converted farm house. Why am I living in a closet in a crowded, dirty city when I could live in a palace in a cute little town a few hours north? Why am I working in an office when I could be”¦I don’t know”¦farming. Or running a cupcake shop. Or somehow making a living off Persephone (I’ll find a way!). Or any of those weird dreams that city folk dream at night, with the blinds closed tight to keep the streetlight out and a fan running to drown out the cars and noise. Maybe there are bars on the windows, and maybe the dreamers can’t remember the last time they woke up to the sound of birds, or wind in the trees, or anything at all.
Now you know why I call this a guilty pleasure. You’ll notice the only one that doesn’t end up leaving a bad taste in my mouth is the FantasyDreamHouse. Because that’s what fantasies and dreams are for.