These are my thoughts after watching the documentary "We The Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters" on Youtube.
After we got married, my wife and I started thinking about owning our own house. It is becoming more and more apparent that owning a house in Malaysia is more and more difficult; the price is going nowhere but up. People around us are poking us so that we buy a house quickly before the price hikes higher. That means that we have to loan from a bank.
There are at least three questions I asked myself and my wife about what I mentioned above.
No. 1: Do we need to own a house? I know this might come as a shock to some, since owning a house is considered a necessity. But to me, it is a question worthy of consideration. Can we live off of renting someone's house? Is that a viable option and a comfortably way of living? I am not saying that I don't want to own a house. I am only questioning the need for it. My parents bought a house for us when I was 15, so for at least 15 years we lived in rented houses.
No. 2: Do we need a house right now? I understand the reason why people are rushing to buy a house. It makes economical sense, and I am not against it. Having said that, isn't there an age old wisdom of not rushing into making a decision, especially a decision as big as buying a house?
No. 3: Do we need to loan from a bank? My wife and I have agreed that we will do our best to avoid loaning from a bank as much as possible. To us, debts are serious business and we don't like being in financial debt, especially with a bank. We didn't even buy a new car; we bought a used one and it works really well for our daily use. Perhaps one day we will apply for a loan from a bank, but we wouldn't do it without thinking thrice. We observe a worrying trend of people being in debt with banks and we worry that people see that as something normal. When and how did we come to this type of a lifestyle, where being in debt is considered normal? We are not naive, at least we try not to be. We understand that sometimes people have little to no choice. But to decide to be in debt with someone (a bank or otherwise) without due consideration about the consequences is possibly immature.
Nonetheless, we do want to own our own house someday and it is a discussion my wife and I are still having. We don't want to make loaning from a bank the only option, as if it is really the only option. We believe there are other options out there.
For example, finding a piece of land and build our house bit by bit.
This is an idea given to us by my father. He has a friend who did just that. His friend bought a piece of land by cash, and made a deal with his builder to build his house phase by phase. He would pay the builder cash for each phase. It takes more time and more energy, but overall it costs less and he is debt-free along the way.
That is one option we a re seriously considering and although it is a tougher option, we think that it is a better one. If there is an option where we don't have to be in debt, then we would take that option any day. We think that being in debt can be a need for some, but for others, it is just an easier and a more convenient way of getting what they want.
We have n o problem with ease and convenience, but we don't want to base our whole life on it. Just because it is easier and more convenient doesn't mean that it is better. The alternative might be harder and requires more out of you, but in the end all the hard work will be worth it.
After watching the documentary I mentioned in the introduction, I am left with a new question: How much space do we really need?
Finding a piece of land can be tough these days, but perhaps it is made tougher with the idea of "the minimum space you need". What is the minimum space we need and who determines that amount of space? Do we really need that much space? Can we live smaller and simpler? Can we cut down on some stuff, and consequently, on some space? What is the bare basic of a house; the actually necessities of a house? What can you live with and what can't you live without?
I believe we have to question so many things, even the things that are deemed to be normal. Sometimes, normal was abnormal not too long ago and perhaps it was a mistake to turn the abnormal into normal.
Historically, people used to live in smaller homes and they were not less happy than us. I would argue that they were more happy. They had less clutter, less distraction, more meaningful social bonds, healthier food, and healthier lifestyle.
Without consuming more, they were adequately happy. Without consuming more, they made room for others to be happy as well.
We have to seriously consider the effects that our lifestyle has on other people. We don't live in a vacuum; each of us influences the other. The lifestyle decisions we made here will influence our fellow human beings across the world. It sounds like something off of a sci-fi movie, but it is true. It is true then and it is true now. It should be more evidently true now since we are more connected to the world than we were ever before.
We have limited resources, but unlimited wants. Our tragedy is in convincing ourselves that our wants are our needs. We have to take some time to stop and step back to look at the bigger picture. We have to consider reconsidering our lifestyle choices and reflect on the effects it has not just on ourselves, but on others as well.
There is a quote I read somewhere, "Live simply, so that others may simply live."
Sometimes we forget the simple fact that this earth that we live in, is a shared property.
Link to documentary video: http://youtu.be/lDcVrVA4bSQ