Nine years ago, when my boyfriend and I were renting, we decided to “save up for a house”. My parents offered us half of their house while we saved. A wall went up, and we moved in. When we got married and had our first son, we started realizing how lucky we were. My husband and I were both working part time (at steady jobs with excellent benefits) and had a lot of time to spend with each other and our new baby. Meanwhile we were hearing stories of barely-affordable mortgages and always-working parents. We knew we’d have to make more money and buy a bigger house if we had another baby, but before our second son was born, my parents (mostly my mom) wanted to downsize and rearrange the walls again, to give us more space. We refused. They insisted. We accepted. So there we were; 2 kids, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a cute little kitchen, an itty bitty playroom, and no mortgage… with my parents for neighbors.
Our satisfaction fluctuated for years. On the one hand we were stoked! Who gets a house as an early inheritance, gets to work part time, and still has money to save and spend on traveling?! (And don’t forget about built-in babysitters, an invaluable relationship between grandkids and grandparents, and being able to see my parents every day.) But there were phases of feeling inadequate. Weren’t we supposed to “earn it” like everyone else? We could buy a house… if we wanted to work more, see our kids less, and kiss our extra cash goodbye. Instead, we chose to stay and embrace the lifestyle we’d come to love.
I never planned on living next door to my parents. But I just so happened to fall in love with a man who doesn’t mind being a stone’s throw from his in-laws. My childhood home is now our home. Our children get to grow up beneath a mountain, under the redwoods, and close to the beach like I did.
We don’t yearn for more money or a bigger, better house. We’re thankful for our circumstances and happy with less. The time we have with our loved ones is a gift. We’re seeing the world, living and learning, pursuing our passions, and helping our children pursue theirs… all while being in the moment as much as we can.
We’ve made many conscious decisions that have allowed us to live simply. But the foundation of it all is literally the one beneath the house we were lucky enough to receive. I like to think of it as serendipity. My dad likes to think of it as his generosity. I guess it’s a little bit of both. Either way, I couldn’t be more grateful.