I don't want a big house because I don't want to have to decorate a bunch of big rooms and don't have a family to house - but I would quite like a decent amount of land, both for the setback and for gardening, forestry, etc.
For the most part, the downsides to having a large home are primarily financial, secondary effects are environmental (we can probably fix the transport issues, but sprawl actually affects ecosystems).
I mean, if you can afford a big old mansion in Central London you buy it and live in it. It seems to me that all the article is saying is that America is a wealthy country.
A very significant proportion of central London mansions are bought by foreign investors specifically not to live in. It's a common form of money laundering.
Put another way, in addition to the obvious considerations: cost, depreciation, heating, etc, shelter and design also provide the ability to bring things together into proximity, emphasise, demarcate and exclude.
Design in houses is the same as in all things: the biggest car is not the best, the biggest desk is not the best, the biggest bookshelf is not the best, the biggest kitchen is not the best.
Or like in computer design, packing things too tightly together is bad, but spacing them too far apart is as well.
Perhaps there is a particular note that American culture has tended off to right of the bell curve in many things on the size scale: biggest food servings, bigger cars, big houses, etc. As the article notes, wealth clearly has SOMETHING to do with it, but there's also clearly something else going on, because people with a lot of money and from other cultures are fully capable of looking at some of those things and judging them as poor/bad.
But also, I've had relatives that were maids, and the places they cleaned weren't always large. More often the owners were just busy people.
Edit; word of mouth is key. While we have a long term person now, we’ve had some ups and downs in the past. Get people’s recommendations before you hire someone. Two reasons; you’ll know they’re good maids (a lot are not good), also most of their clients have come from word of mouth so if they really screw up/steal their business basically evaporates as word spreads. Likewise if you help them with referrals, they will treat you very well (eg our lady will come over after a dinner party, gathering, etc). You also have to “train” them. Even if they’re good, you have some quirks and preferences they would never guess
More like a country with a lot of land.
Sure, houses in Ex-Soviet countries aren't as big as the ones in the US even though there is a lot of land. But good luck building an American sized house in a Western European country without paying a magnitude of what you would pay for the same amount of land in the US. From the article: “In most European countries, it’s much harder legally to build on unbuilt area than it is here,”. Most of the land is indirectly in use, either as farm land, national parkland or owned by the crown in the case of some countries (UK).
I’d much rather have a smaller house but with a yard I can grow stuff in, or be outside in, than a 3000 Sqft house on a 8000sqft plot.
So you have to actually go rural to do stuff.
Or is that something that's restricted to only a few special neighbourhoods?
I can't imagine even entertaining the idea of buying a home there. If my neighbour demanded I cut the grass or something daft like that and backed it up with a legal threat I'd either have to move out or just eventually go postal.
While front yards might fall onto that, backyards are pretty much off-limits to HOA, unless one does things that inconvenience neighbors, like obstruct their view or keep animals that are noisy.
HOAs and their restrictions seem very much to be a form of conspicuous consumption—"we can afford to keep our lawns all precisely the same length, and precisely the same shade of green, regardless of the fact that we're in a months-long drought"—as well as a vehicle for petty tyrants who enjoy enforcing their particular idea of what A Perfect House And Lawn looks like on everyone in their development.
Also, IIRC many/most condos and townhomes often have something like an HOA that serves their common interests and joint expenses.
Canada is below France in that table, but Canada has large houses as well—2,200 sq ft, compared to below 1,500 sq ft for France.
There's of course VAT, but Americans have sales tax, which is lower, but significant.
All in all taking into account average VAT paid per month my tax rate is 32%.
This is lightly taxed.
2. $1000 in (annual) vehicle registration fees means you’re driving a sweet car, so I wouldn’t complain. In some European countries you might pay 100% or more of the vehicles sales cost in taxes and fees.
Those are top rates, unclear whether “over 50%” refers to effective tax rate once all deductions are taken care of.
This is evidently not the case.
(I am also not a fan of using averages in terms of comparing income across countries)
Someone should start a magazine for bugmen. It can feature apple products, human habitations barely above tent level and delicious meals made with fried crickets.
As an adult I now understand that America has always had pods--they're called hotel rooms, and countless families live in low-budget hotels across the country, both urban and rural. A single-wide trailer is just an elongated pod. (I lived in both as a kid.)
I think what Americans really object to isn't the pod, per se, but the fact that they're intended to be densely packed in urban environments. Put that same pod in an idyllic, rural setting and all of a sudden it evokes independence and frugality.
This is definitely in line with my thinking (though I'm not American).
I currently live in a small home, approx 40-50sqm. But it's detached, has a bit of land (slightly less than I'd like, but enough to do stuff outside and not feel like you're encroaching on the neighbours).
The problem with urban apartment living is that you're absolutely forced into a ton of negotiations. How loud is too loud - whose wall is whose - who pays for the structure - who owns the land - the list is almost endless. For me, the mental overhead that's just always present is really draining.
American dream is not about owning a house, going to school and being more successful.
American dream is about owning a bigger house than your neighbors, having nicer cars than your friends, being visual successful. Most people who will give you a threshold for their financial happiness will become unhappy if all their neighbors exceed them.
Social signaling by wealth is very strong out here. It's true that you can now see it in other parts of the world but it was exported by US to them
"In the 1930s, his Dixie Cup campaign was designed to convince consumers that only disposable cups were sanitary by linking the imagery of an overflowing cup with subliminal images of vaginas and venereal disease."
I wish I were kidding. Where I live in Colorado, there are acres of self storage, indoor with A/C and outdoor, everywhere these days, with more being built.
Given the resurgence in urban living, lower birth rates, and higher debt burden among millennials/Gen Z I would predict average home sizes will shrink...
Ironically, this all becomes wildly easier after you have the first mortgage, and can leverage the paper equity that rising prices gives you...
To me the "driving 15 minutes to get a gallon of milk" thing is absurd on the face of it because it's missing that urban and rural life are fundamentally different in a lot of ways.
If you live in the centre of a city, it's normal to live a sort of 'just-in-time' lifestyle whereby you just pop to the shops whenever to grab an ingredient, perhaps wander to a cafe for lunch, etc.
In the country it's far more DIY. You have a big freezer / fridge and food stocks and just sort it out. If you want to cut up some wood, build a cabinet, whatever, you don't go to the community space or whatever, you do it on the land.
And if you do go to the store - well you think about what you actually need to buy. The idea that people are burning a gallon of fuel solely to grab milk is absurd, more likely they just do without it until the next time they're in town, or prepare in advance.
I'm not arguing that rural lifestyles have lower transport requirements in their totality - they obviously don't - just that the '15 mins to get X' example is absurd, because it describes a strawman journey that very rarely actually occurs.
Even in my youth living in the suburbs of a small town in the UK you rarely went "in to town" to buy one thing because it's just not worth it.
Even as a hard core urbanite, I can get that. For me bliss is having the option to walk everywhere I need to go. But a close second on my list would be living within walking distance of great skiing and/or kayaking and not being able to see my neighbors house from my property.
What I don't get is the weird compromise of being so far out from the city you have to drive everywhere, but not so far that you're actually close to nature, and still surrounded by dozens and dozens of houses within spitting distance of your front door.
Add to this the ability to step outside into a wide open environment with a view of a distant horizon. A liberated mind.
Completely agree with this point, but it also completely separated from the size of your house. You can have a huge house and not be able to see the horizon because you're surrounded by equally huge houses in all directions. Or you can have 500 sq ft cabin on the edge of a lake that is the only building in a 3 mile radius.
But compaction is a preference for some.
Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but my experience is that Americans view property as "personal sovereignty" to a much greater degree than people in other parts of the world, who view it more as an investment or generational asset. In the US, it comes with the implication of freedom to do your own thing without state interference. (In some parts of the US, this is de facto literal.)
That said, I prefer to live in a relatively small place in the middle of a real city. I don't know how to fill a large house in a way that can be rationalized, though I have owned such houses.
Those looking to unload their McMansions in the coming years should be forewarned they may not be demand for them: they're often located far from jobs, offer too much space versus the shrinking family size, and demand enormous upkeep. To an extent, remote work might make the first factor more palatable, but the latter two remain problematic.
I'd agree with the long commute. I'd move closer to work, but I can all but guarantee in a few years I'd find a new job - and I'm not going to move every time I find a new job.
As far as big houses...land is cheap where I'm at (Atlanta suburbs)...so why not? Ranch style homes are expensive by the square foot. It's easy for a developer to add a 2nd story and double your square footage without charging much more for the house. Around here you can dig deeper and get yourself an unfinished daylight basement for ~$40k more. So you can go from essentially a 1 story style ranch home, triple your square footage (basement, main + 2nd floor) for not even double the price for a 1 story home.
Just to give some numbers for my neighborhood w/ the Zillow Estimated price. Neighborhood is 4 years old
My neighbor's 1 story ranch: 2400 square feet $322k,
My 2 story house: 3400 square feet, $404k
House w/ Finished Basement: 4310 Square feet, $513k
My house and the house w/ basement have a 2 story foyers and living room. So basically, we have so much space that the 2nd floor doesn't need to be fully utilized because we like to stare into 30 feet high ceilings.
And of course with the advent of things like power tools and supply chains that can cheaply delivery (relatively) uniform building materials, the actual process of physically constructing the house is easier than ever.
So, if you're in the business of building homes, one of the most cost effective ways to make the house seem more luxurious is simply to make it bigger.
Also, big houses are not strictly a suburban phenomenon. If you've ever been to a gentrified urban neighborhood it's not that uncommon to see a block where they've torn down almost every 900 sq ft bungalow and replaced it with a 3500 sq ft 3 story box.
We were talking about woodworking. I know my friend had just bought a new table saw, I was wondering how things were going.
My friend complained that it took him a long time to setup his saw every time he wanted to use it. It was contained in a small room with several other tools, he had to pick which one to plug in and put in the 'free space'.
I explained I kept my table saw in it's own place, set up in the extra garage. He was stunned that there could be such an extravagance.
I'm sure everybody would have a bigger house (and garage) if the situation allowed it. It's nice. It's only human nature to like such a thing.
I think Americans generally like everything bigger for some reason. When I came to the US from Germany I noticed that everything was much bigger here. Kitchen stoves, fridges, office chairs, food portion sizes, TV sets, beds, candy bars, cars and so on. Not efficient, just big.
I knew a lot of well off people in Germany whose houses were much smaller than what Americans of the same status would be living in.
Not sure why that is but it seems cultural to prefer big things. Maybe it got started in the 50s when American cars were huge just for the sake of it.
Hey, if you speak of standalone houses, that's probably the minimum size here! If you want to go for a smaller size, you'd probably get a flat, or possibly a semi-detached house.
And, personally, I think that a comfortable living with some private space for everyone is hard to achieve in less than 120 square meters for, let's say, a 4-people household. Too much noise, too much clutter.
My dad worked as a lineman for Ma Bell, and could afford to build it with no mortgage. You can’t do that today.