A Yard To Play In

BLOG VIEW: I was going through my attic this past weekend and was amazed to see the number of children's toys we have amassed over the years – many of them now outgrown.

While I was up there, my kids, now 11 and 13, came up to see what was going on, and, as they often do, to get re-familiar with some of their old favorites – maybe even bring one or two toys back downstairs for a few rounds of childhood regression.

While we were up there, I brought up the idea of having a tag sale at which the kids could sell their toys and keep the cash. For some reason, this idea – which I've brought up before – always ends up getting pushed back when it's time to decide which toys to sell. The reaction becomes ‘I don't know – maybe I want to hold onto them for another year or two.’

It occurred to me, at that moment, that it is truly a luxury to have an attic: After all, free storage is one of the biggest advantages of being a homeowner, isn't it? The kids don't have to get rid of their toys right away – the old toys can just stay up there for another year, two years, five years – it doesn't really matter. Attics are for storage, right? What's more, the attic can serve as a kind of ‘sanctuary’ where my kids are free to regress as much as they want, when they want.

I think what's really sad about the current situation with lack affordability and declining home sales is the countless number of children who will never know the joys of having an ‘attic sanctuary’ – let alone a yard to play in. When I was growing up, I always had a yard to play in – and it saddens me to read reports about the U.S. becoming a ‘renter nation,’ because it seems like we are losing something much bigger than just the ability to buy and own a house.

Now, I'm not saying children who are raised in apartments or condominiums without a yard or attic to play in are at some huge disadvantage – I know they can go out, explore, play and ‘regress’ just the same as those who live in single-family homes. But I wonder, when they grow up, will they appreciate having ‘a yard to play in’ the same way previous generations appreciated it?

Recent surveys show that the younger generations – Gen X and Gen Y in particular – although resigned to renting, are still desirous of homeownership – they just don't see a clear path to getting there. Plus, after watching the trials of their parents, many of whom struggled during the past five years, they have deep-seated fears concerning the risks involved in owning a home and having a mortgage. My fear is that as we develop into a ‘renter nation,’ the notion of homeownership as a path to financial security (and familial bonding) will fade to the point that having a ‘yard to play in’ is no longer revered as it once was.

On a deep level, I am so grateful for having had that opportunity.

(Do you have an opinion to share with MortgageOrb? Get in touch! Send an email to pbarnard@zackin.com.)


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