What Living in 10 Homes Has Taught Us About How We Want to Live

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Talk about a mouthful of a title, right? Since making it legal in 2004, Clay and I have shared ten addresses together. Over the years, we’ve lived in apartments, townhomes, and single family homes. We’ve lived in homes with just one bathroom and we’ve lived in homes with up to four bathrooms. We’ve lived in historical homes, we’ve lived in brand new homes, and we’ve lived in everything in between. We’ve had gas heat, we’ve had electric heat, and we’ve had no air conditioning. We’ve been under BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing), we’ve been at BAH, and we’ve been over BAH. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the life we wish to build together. And the ten homes we’ve lived in thus far has taught us a thing or two about how we want to live.

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In my post about how we became accidental landlords, I talked about the two homes we bought and currently use as investment properties.  We don’t consider either one of these houses our ‘forever home’ and will likely never live in either one of them again. Ahhh – the concept of a forever home. It’s not unusual for military families to talk about their forever homes. When you’re forced to live in places and homes you wouldn’t otherwise choose to live, the idea of being able to have 100% control over those aspects of your life becomes such a romantic notion that it rivals Rachel McAdams in a blue dress jumping onto Ryan Gosling in the rain and kissing him hard as with her legs firmly wrapped around his waist.

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I have yet to fully realize my Ryan Gosling house. I touched on it a bit in my previous post – Clay and I really don’t have any longterm goals in regards to where we want to live other than making sure that we absolutely love living there. Life is too short to choose a location based solely on job opportunities, family, taxes, cost of living, etc… We don’t have a forever home in mind like a lot of our military friends. Our forever home may be a two-room bungalow on the beach, a high-rise apartment in a metropolitan city, or a log cabin nestled in the mountains. Truth be told – I’m a little envious of my friends who already have a plot of land, who have Pinterest boards full of house ideas, and who have some idea of how they want to live post-military. We’re not there yet. And the jury is still out whether we ever will be.

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Outside of our first place together in Madison Barracks, Sackets Harbor, New York. {2004}

So what has the past 13+ years and living in 10 homes thus far taught us? First is that our priorities and outlook on life have changed since we were newlyweds in our young twenties watching HGTV and dreaming of a grown-up house. We wanted the stainless steel appliances, the granite counters, the dual bathroom vanities, and the hardwood floors. Living in a tiny apartment can certainly foster these dreams.

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The first home we bought. {2008}

But you know what? After living with all of these features in various homes, we’ve learned that at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. We crave simplicity, we appreciate historic details, and we understand that stone countertops have absolutely no impact on our day-to-day happiness. Are new appliances, non-laminate countertops, and gleaming wood floors nice things to have in a home? Of course. We appreciate them when we happen to live in such a home. We’re certainly not ripping up hardwoods to put down wall-to-wall carpet. But we also know that we are no happier than when we happen to live in a home that doesn’t have such features. For that reason alone, I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to move around as much as we do. I’m not sure if I’d have the same understanding about what truly makes me happy if we didn’t live in so many different homes.

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Infantry Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. {2015}

When we’re asked about our favorite home, there is little hesitation on our part. The apartment we lived in at Fort Leavenworth during Clay’s year at Command General and Staff College wins by a landslide. Yes, the front door would stick sometimes so I’d have to throw my body weight against it in order to let myself inside. The master bathroom was tiny (tiny!) and the laundry room was just a hall closet. There weren’t that many outlets. The kitchen had mismatched appliances and the top of the cupboards had a coat of curry that proved impossible to clean. The fire escape collected pine needless and we never could figure out how to open the kitchen window. The air conditioning and heat were old and tempermental. But the wood floors were pre-War and told the stories of families who called the place home before us. And our kitchen door was always open for the neighbors to come in as they like.

Of all the places we’ve lived, our 1903-built apartment has been our favorite thus far because of the memories made during those 11 months. Perhaps I am romanticizing the place too much and building it up to be my Ryan Gosling, but I don’t care. Our experience at Fort Leavenworth taught us that it doesn’t really matter how updated our home may be – it’s the people who surround our home and become our community that matter more. Living there made us realize that we want the place we call home to part of something greater than ourselves.

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But don’t get me wrong, we have also developed opinions on specific home designs due to our experience of living in ten different houses. For example, we don’t mind bathrooms with just one vanity – when we have two, we just end up using the same sink anyway. Toilet rooms creep me out – such a small enclosed space without a window…::shudder:: I don’t really care for open concept living, I much prefer cozy rooms. I believe that kitchens can be too big (our house in Texas taught me that) and I don’t miss a formal dining room when we live in a home without one – I’d rather have just one designated eating space and perhaps an informal counter in the kitchen with some barstools. I don’t like having more than 2.5 bathrooms because then they become a chore to clean. And anything more than four bedrooms is just too much for our little family. I also love a porch that is perfect for conversation and cocktails well into the night (who doesn’t?).

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Only time will tell where our 11th home together will be and what it will look like. However, I take comfort in the fact that as long as it provides shelter and gives us a place to love and to be loved, it will a good home for us. No matter what type of countertops happen to be in the kitchen.

4 comments on “What Living in 10 Homes Has Taught Us About How We Want to Live”

  1. Great post! Y’all have experienced quite the housing variety!

    Leavenworth’s historic housing options are memorable 🙂 Kansas housing cured me of my old house/fixer upper dreams.

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  2. I’m loving your whole outlook on all the moving. Most people find it to be a major burden but you’ve used it to better yourselves. It’s beautiful.

    PS. We just watched The Notebook the other day on tv and I have to admit, I lusted after that house!

    Like

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