When my friend moved to Colorado Springs about 3 years ago, I helped him look for a house. He had a set amount of money to spend and a kind of house he was looking for. The kind of house he wanted was nowhere to be found, so we moved on to second choices. His agent — a friend of mine — and I (and almost everyone I knew back in the day ) grew up in one particular neighborhood. I had no idea how Colorado Springs had grown in the meantime.
He bought a 1960s split-level house with clerestory windows and a lot of updates — water heater, furnace, tile. To me, it is a beautiful, somewhat luxurious, four bedroom house. I love it. He might have liked something else better, but in that market, there wasn’t much room for deliberating for a few days over a home purchase. In reality, the house — and I — are rather passé.
Since then I’ve seen the houses many young families buy today. Enormous über houses with small yards, two stoves, two dishwashers, 9 million bathrooms, his’n’her offices, and several hundred bedrooms.
I woke up a few mornings ago in the pretty light of the master bedroom of my friend’s house. He mostly lives in the basement which has a big bedroom, family room, and bath. I looked at the big closet with its folding doors. It was not a his-and-her walk-in closet with a sofa inside. Just a closet. I imagined a guy getting ready for work putting on a suit or an Air Force uniform. I could see mom packing lunches for the kids and the kids walking to school. Same family as today live in an über house, but with different expectations.
There’s an incinerator in the backyard.
And then I thought, “If we don’t have open trade with China, and we have everything made in America (which is really OK with me except for agriculture, automobiles, electronics and other things) this is how upper-middle-class people lived when I was a kid.” This would have been the house of an Air Force Colonel or even a Brigadier General or a civilian making $20k back in 1966. Median income in 1968 was under $10k.
1966 luxury is Spartan living in 2018.