We All May Need the Lottery to Survive as the Markets Falllllllllll


I was thinking ahead to winning the lottery and saw this gem that could do in a pinch. 


..but with dwindling stock accounts and no job (as yet) for me, this might be more in line with the reality of the 2016 economy.


I think it comes down to one basic question:

How Much House Does One Need

I see space as a true luxury, a luxury that only comes with being able to afford it all – and by afford I mean where the cost of keeping up a house and yard doesn’t interfere or make a blip in your overall financial goals, like saving for retirement or helping the kids etc.

I’ve always had houses that are larger than I need. Maybe it comes from a mentality that bigger is better or that bigger says you’ve made it? I’m not sure.

When the kids flew the coop, I downsized considerably, to this home, a modest 1930s cottage. We use the downstairs only when none of the kids are here and quite honestly really only use two rooms – the Master Bedroom wing and the combination kitchen and breakfast room, which also encompasses the office where I am sitting now.

But I still find myself drooling over 7500 square feet homes, 8 and 9 bedrooms, sprawling lawns or oceanfront….there’s something in me that still wants that, even though I don’t NEED it.

As most of you know, we’ve chosen to downsize in Rhode Island too, giving up the family big home to a sibling of Mr. EOS’s who wants the responsibility of keeping up a rambling old house that’s only half heated. The Carriage House is teeny tiny by comparison, but will be easy to manage, easy to close the door and fly off to Jamaica, easy to heat, and just right for us.

Then I see a house with THIS kitchen, and the big house envy starts all over again….


Bottom line though, I’d be very hard-pressed to actually buy a huge home again today, even with my lottery winnings. But ask me again next week, okay? That is if I haven’t flown to Barbados in my chartered private jet! Who me, a hypocrite? 🙂

21 thoughts on “We All May Need the Lottery to Survive as the Markets Falllllllllll

  1. We’re back from Wyoming after an exhaustive house hunting expedition and what a coincidence that you post an article about house size. John and I rarely disagree, about anything, but I want a small home when (if) we move and he wants a big ranch/spread. Our house in Bedford is way bigger than we need, is very expensive to maintain and heat, so if John does retire young and we move, I want to know I can live in a small space that doesn’t carry any debt and that we can care for without hiring someone to help.

    John feels he’s worked very hard for his money (and he has) and that having a large ranch in Wyoming is what he’s been working towards. We’ve stashed away money for the children’s boarding school and college education but if the markets continue to tank (and most experts say we are in for a rough patch), we may need to dig into the kids savings to live, especially if we buy something too big to manage.

    I watch Tiny House on HGTV religiously and see families of four like ours live in only a few HUNDRED square feet. I know I could do that but I’m not sure my children or John could. The saga is not over.

  2. We’ve downsized twice since the children left home and while I’m happy at all the savings and comfortable in very little spae, my wife is unhappy. She likes her space, likes to have plenty of room when the kids and grandchildren come over, and tells me all the time she feels cramped in the home we have now. She’d go back to having a big home in a split second. Maybe it’s mroe a guy versus a gal thing then it is a monetary decision.

  3. We moved from living vertically in a city row house to living on one floor. We do have a second story and an attic but other than checking the thermostat to be sure we avoid frozen pipes or preparing for guests I very rarely venture up there. We sold a vacation property this year and I don’t miss the responsibility of maintaining a second home.
    Our kitchen is on the small side because I wanted efficiency. I can easily reach almost everything I need when I’m cooking. Seldom used stuff is in a walk in pantry. By the way, I continue to enjoy the induction stove top.
    Huge houses are wonderful to visit and I’m glad I have friends who live in them.

    1. Many of my friends have several small to medium homes. One in Florida perhaps. One where they lived raising the kids. One in the city or near the grandkids. The downside is what you said – maintaining and worrying about the second house, but more and more seasonal communities have home watching service companies to oversee an often empty home. One of our friends in RI earns a very nice living being the winter watcher – from errant house alarms to frozen pipe watch to being there for some special delivery, or turning the heat on when the owner comes up. It’s a lucrative field.

    1. That is STUNNING. The simplicity of it all just blew me away. I was expecting to see some mega mansion in the link and when the photos of Eothen opened, I fell back in my chair, gobsmacked. I think it should be mine and I’ll rename it only slightly, to Eosthen. I have to say that’s one of the best links you’ve posted.

        1. Don’t ruin it for me. Oh nooooooooooooooo. I don’t want to walls to talk. I just want to enjoy the beauty of the white cottages on the beach. Eyes closed. Eyes closed. Can’t hear you.

          Esther is funny. That works. I guess if I bought it, I could name it any damn thing I want, eh?

  4. I am drawn to large houses, too, I think just because the scale is aesthetically pleasing. Plus the era/style of home I like — 1880s-1930s coastal shingle-styles — tend to be ramblers, like that gorgeous house in Fenwick you posted.

    However, when it comes to actual living, I have always preferred (relatively) small houses. I find the ingenuity people use in smaller spaces really appealing, from built-ins, to a powder room set in under the stairs, to having spaces serve multiple purposes. I grew up in 2,700sf and it was pretty much perfect — comfortably-sized living, dining, and family rooms, a decent kitchen, 4 bedrooms (one used as an office/rec room). A few large rooms that are thoughtfully designed and laid out are just fine for me.

    I tend to think most large houses are symptoms of suburban excess driven by questionable lending practices and the real estate industry. Middle-class people in the 50s didn’t have family rooms AND living rooms AND playrooms AND sunrooms AND offices because they couldn’t mortgage 80-90% of the purchase price of a home. Today, that’s standard, and most of it is unnecessary and unused.

    Relatives of mine moved from 6,000sf on 4 acres to less than 1,000sf recently. It is NOT 100% better, and they are going to move somewhere (slightly) bigger next, but the amount of stuff that they had bought just to fill that 6,000sf, and the amount of money they’d thrown away maintaining it, has really opened their eyes to what a wasteful lifestyle that was.

    1. I agree with some of what you said, that ingenuity in smaller spaces is appealing, but I don’t necessarily agree that sprawling mansions are always symptoms of suburban excess. Some people plain and simply like to live in large spaces and as Swanton and another Anon said, they are appealing. But not all large houses are equal. I have so many friends who built large in the 80s and only a handful of them are pretty. Most are large and cold. It takes real talent from the architect to design a large home with livable size rooms and it takes talent and taste from the homeowner to choose furnishings and colors that make it warm too. It’s a rare combination to have money and taste.

      I’m not sure I would use the term “wasteful lifestyle” either. Again, if a family has the means, and they can sustain it without burdening their children’s futures, or their own, why not?

      I grew up living large, so did most of my friends, but when I had to live on my own, small was easy because it was a mindset, not the things around me that defined my wants and needs.

      1. I think living well beyond your needs is wasteful, even if you can afford it. If you do formal entertaining on a large scale, and have live-in help, you probably would use all that an 8,000+sf house has to offer. If you live like most Americans, even the wealthy, and spend your time in the kitchen and family room watching TV, have no live-in help, and consider having the neighbors over for a Superbowl party or cookout entertaining — you will not. Just like if you really value privacy and enjoy the activities attendant to having acreage (horses, gardening, etc.) you will really use a large parcel of land. Or if you have five kids, you will need a huge SUV. That former lifestyle I described is what these big old houses you and I love were built for. Not the way people live today.

        Just because you WANT something or prefer it doesn’t make it not wasteful.

        1. I don’t know where you live Anonymous, but around these parts people still do have live-in help. Some families with large estates put the help in a separate cottage on the land. Others have a separate wing of the house for staff. I don’t mean Downton Abbey staff, but certainly many people want a housekeeper or nanny to live in, and even a groundskeeper too.

        2. I live and work in Greenwich, Connecticut 06830, and my family has a 200 acre estate in Litchfield County with live-in help. But thank you for the education. My clients are all very wealthy people, even by Greenwich standards, and only the wealthiest among them ($100s of millions) have live-in staff. Then it is usually one person, a nanny/cook/housekeeper. Those very few who have a real staff tend to be the global rich, not even wealthy locals. They will have one of the aforementioned nannies, plus a groundskeeper/property manager, and perhaps a full-time housekeeper. Otherwise, it’s just a cook who comes a few days per week, plus personal assistant(s) and/or business managers who will work in a designated office area but don’t live on-site.

          It’s just not a standard way of life among the wealthy anymore. Put another way: there are many more houses in this town big enough for live-in staff and large-scale entertaining than residents who are interested in either.

        3. That is true that the staff today tends to be as needed, personal assistants etc.Good points.
          Drooling at the thought of 200 acres in Litchfield County. Lucky.

  5. I’ve lived in everything from a 16 rm. house to a 39 ft. sailboat. Living on a boat taught me that I really didn’t need much to live comfortably – a very good lesson for me as I continue to downsize while the years pile up. For anyone wanting to live small (er) architect Sarah Susanka has written a book called The Not So Big House. It incorporates the ideas shipbuilders have used for centuries (in terms of use of valuable space) and some very good ideas & practical advice for downsizers. One of the things she recommends is building an “away room” for those times you really need some alone time. I think going too small, like the tiny houses on tv, would be tough with children unless it’s a vacation home. One day very soon those children will be adult sized with adult sized stuff.

    I remember being moored on our boat in Ft. Lauderdale where there was a family of 5 (kids from about 6-10) on a 42 ft. sailboat who had decided it would be a fabulous idea to take the kids out of school & sail around the world. They were anchored next to us for 2 days & never stopped screaming at each other. We left for the Bahamas before they ever poked their nose out into the Atlantic. I often wonder how that adventure turned out. SOOOOO glad I wasn’t with them!

    1. A) I could never live on a boat without ending up being a Dateline episode.

      B) The Carriage House is being built very much in the shipbuilders format and one of the only “discussions” we are having about the space downstairs is a room that Mr. EOS wants for his tractor and other valuables and I want as exactly how you worded it, a get away room. We are still negotiating. 🙂

  6. as for the markets, i noticed that both the wsj and the nyt are using a percentage up and down format for reporting the dow – it used to be down and a number, like 345. maybe they feel it’s too scary for people to see a mega number than it is to see -2.3%. dumbing down of the readers?

    i grew up dirt poor – my parents were immigrants and scraped together enough money for me and my siblings to eat and be clothed. we lived in a tenament on the lower east side, just like in the movie a tree grows in brooklyn. fifth floor walkup. my sisters and i slept in the same bed for a long time but we thought it was just fine.

    when i married and lived in a house with just my husband and myself, i thought i had died and gone to heaven. i was simultaneously feeling guilty that i had so much space and wasn’t sharing it,

    we raised our children in a big home in greenwich – not big-big by greenwich standards, but big to us but we sold that before the real estate market crashed and i live alone now in a small apartment that i can easily afford, giving me more money to fly to california to be with my grandchildren.

    1. Your sentiment is shared by many our age whose parents or grandparents started with nothing. I’ve heard others mention the guilt aspect.
      Everyone has their own reasons for living large or small and I don’t judge. I can do both. 🙂

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