Clay and I have been talking a lot lately about the life that’s awaiting us in Seattle. The job is officially settled, and we’re officially moving come July. I’ve been apartment-hunting and checking-out the real estate scene online, and my GOSH, the cost-of-living blows me away. After over a year of living on a loan, we are very excited to receive an actual salary, and a pretty decent one at that. However, the difference between what can be done with that salary in Seattle versus if we were to stay here in Memphis is dramatic.
If we were to stay in Memphis, our money would go much farther. When we get ready to purchase a home in the next couple of years, we would be able to buy into a pretty great neighborhood and have a decent-sized home that we could stay-in for many, many years. Hypothetically, in a few years we might be able to afford a house like this:
In Seattle, for the same amount of money, this is what we would get:
A 900 sq. ft., 2 bedroom condo that, let’s be honest, is really just an apartment that you own. Two bedrooms to last us through several years and who knows how many kids. Sigh.
This has definitely been something I’ve wrestled with as I find myself at times getting bitter and covetous of the things we will not be able to enjoy while living in Washington because of the cost-of-living. Part of it is practical: Seriously, how cramped and annoying will it be to live in 900 sq. ft. with two or three kids? Part of it is simply the fact that I enjoy living a nicer lifestyle and am tempted to feel envious of those who can do that for much less money here in Memphis. Dangit, I want a big house with a yard!
Thankfully, my wise husband has tempered my angst about this issue. We’ve talked lately of what it means to not be enslaved to your possessions. To hold everything with an open hand before God. To NOT buy everything you can afford simply because you can afford it. To resist the temptation to work longer and harder to purchase luxuries that serve no godly purpose and end-up rotting your soul. What would it mean to reject a lifestyle that consistently seeks upgrades and pursue missional living through all the time we have left-over?
Perhaps living in 900 sq. ft. is God’s way of keeping us humble. Protecting us from the bigger-is-better sprawl of rich suburbia. Forcing us to deal with the problems that will arise when you have lots of people together in a small space…keeping each other and our children close to us at all times and not giving us the option of watching tv in opposite rooms of the house. Protecting us from unwise and unnecessary purchases that we literally will have no place to put, and forcing us to continually purge those things we do not need any longer and someone else can use.
One day we’ll own a tiny piece of land (or building), I certainly hope we won’t have to rent forever. And I pray that God will grant us contentment and joy, because 900 sq. ft. is probably more than most people in the world have to call a home. I pray that we will never live our lives in excess and slavery to riches and possessions. We have such a responsibility to serve the poor in the world and in our city, and I pray our lifestyle will not be a slap in their face.