We've been thinking about moving from our big, old, two-story house to something a little easier to clean and maintain. And if we're going to move, why not move to a warmer, sunnier place?
Then again, maybe we should stay here, and just find a more compatible house. We've often wondered what it would be like to live in a place with level floors and square corners instead of our old wreck -- whoops! I mean, our old historic landmark.
Our house is so historic, you can stand in front of the closed windows and still feel the wind blow. It's so historic that it has no closets. Who had extra clothes back then? They hung everything they owned on a nail on the back of the door. It's so historic that everything costs two or three times the normal price to fix. It makes charming, historic noises all night long.
It's so historic that there's a sign on it that says, "George Washington wouldn't sleep here because it looked unsafe." And that was in 1776.
Sue and I have talked about moving for years. We wonder what it would be like to have high-speed Internet and reliable cellphone service. We'd even be happy with electricity that stayed on after a minor snowstorm or a hard rain. We dream of living on one story, and of having square corners, level floors, a balcony, an elevator and a super.
So we look at the real estate listings. It turns out, a place like that costs $4,500 a month, plus utilities. It's one-fifth the size of the place we have now, and five times the price. How does that make sense? We would be downsizing our space and upsizing our spending.
We keep seeing real estate ads that say things like, "Price dropped from $1.1 million to $799,000! What a steal!" In our circle of friends, we probably know one person who could afford a $799,000 house. And he made all his money flipping houses. Even if he bought it, he wouldn't keep it. Obviously, we're hanging around with the wrong kind of people.
Where is all this money coming from? When you see the housing prices in New York, Miami and San Francisco, it seems as if everyone who lives there is a multimillionaire. They can't all be selling drugs for a living. They can't all have won the Powerball jackpot. They can't all be hedge fund managers. They can't all be the Housewives of Wherever.
So where does all the money come from? Well, a lot of it comes from overseas. If you were a wealthy Russian, would you rather put, say, $10 million in a Russian bank or park it in a New York City penthouse? If you made a fortune in China, would you leave it there or buy a Beverly Hills mansion? Then you just wait five or 10 years for your country's financial crisis to end, or for a new leader to come along, and poof! You sell your property at a profit. Meanwhile, you've priced us out of the market, thank you very much.
Of course, we'd like to stay in the town where all our friends live, where all our family lives and where all our roots are. But over the years, our friends have gone to live with their children in Florida or Phoenix, our families have scattered to the four winds, the waitress at the restaurant we've gone to every week for the past 30 years asks us if we've ever eaten here before, and the clerks at the drugstore give us the senior discount without asking.
We haven't left home, it left us. When people ask us if we're really moving, Sue says, "We're just window shopping."
Maybe, but we're doing a lot of it.