This is a big one: housing.

yellow concrete building covered with snow
Photo by Oleg Magni on

We all need a place to live. A roof over our heads. Hearth and home. How do we afford it? What do we really need?

I see so many people I know struggling to pay the rent or mortgage each month. Most of them I have zero sympathy for. Live within your means people! I do not care how sweet the location is, or the ranking of the school district, or the hype associated with the zip code. If the rent is beyond a persons financial ability, then do not live there. I pay less each month for my trailer then I did for renting a low-income apartment.

Most of my life has been spent in apartments. The cost of rent in Minnesota has steadily been on the rise and this has been hitting low-income families terribly hard. The standard apartment is only a 2-bedroom and rents average start is $1000 per month. With the requirements that you make three times the rent, pay first & last month up front, plus damage deposit equal to one months rent, no pets, no smoking and no more than 2 children & 2 adults. This is completely unrealistic for most.

I am so thankful and blessed that we found our trailer. I wish more people would consider trailers, or mobile homes, as an option. For some reason, many cities in this state frown upon trailer courts. Over the last 15 years, I have seen cities shut down trailer courts, destroy them and sell the property for luxury apartments instead. This upsets me. Trailers are a wonderful option. After my mortgage is paid off, I will own this place. The same as someone owns a traditional house after the mortgage is paid off. I still have to pay property taxes, and maintain my home. Maintenance and yard work are my obligations. I wish people could see a few of my neighbors. During the summer months, their yards are perfectly manicured, beautiful flowerbeds, lined sidewalks, clean driveways. I am jealous. My yard was neglected for a long time before we moved in. It has been a slow process to bring it back to life. This coming summer will be another step in the right direction.

Growing up, my Dad taught me about cash poor & house rich. From an early age, I wanted to avoid this situation in my adult life. Yes, school district matters, but the cost of rent matters more. I am trying to teach the girls these same concepts. A bigger house is not always better. What can you afford? What can you maintain? Plumbers are not cheap. Replacing a roof is not cheap. Are you thinking about needs or wants?

How many bedrooms do we really need? According to my mom’s co-worker, each person needs their own room. This means I would need a 4-bedroom. Why? What is wrong with sharing a bedroom? I shared a room with my sister’s until I was 11-year’s old. That is the age when they were both moved out. Siblings bicker, but there is nothing wrong with sharing a room. All three of my girls shared a room when we were in the apartment. I have shared a room with one sister and her baby before. That was three of us in one room. Our biggest arguments were over closet space and me taking her make-up.

How many bathrooms do we really need? One. I have lived in a 2-bedroom apartment with 9 people and only 1 bathroom. Trust me, as long as you have one functioning bathroom, you are doing just fine. And personally, I do not jump for joy at the idea of more toilets to scrub. Sharing a bathroom has never been an issue for me.

This topic has been rolling around inside of me for a while now. D- wants to live someplace where she has a bigger bedroom and more children her own age. A- keeps telling me we need to move because she wants her own bedroom and she should get what she wants. They want a house with a second living room just for children and no adults allowed. Keep dreaming! They have become spoiled little brats. Add to this the fact that a friend of mine pays twice monthly what I pay. She rents a 2-bedroom house in an upscale area. She cannot afford the rent. She is always behind, always asking for extensions on her bills. But she will not move. We have had numerous arguments over the last year. She believes that I should rent an actual house with more bedrooms and more than one bathroom. The girls here these arguments. They hear her talk down about our home. Then they feel like we need to move and find something better. Why do adults do this?

There is no way I would trade my current home for a bigger house. I like what I have, I appreciate what I have and I am making a home here. And some day in the future, when my children are grown, they will still have their childhood home to come back to for visits. I take the good with the bad, and please believe me: the Good out weighs the Bad. And the cost is realistic.