There are a multitude of accounts on Instagram which advertise cheap homes. You can even further narrow that list down to accounts which show cheap foreign homes. I mean, foreign in an American sense. I suppose to the people which live in those countries they are local. Anyways, I happen to follow an account called @yourcheapdreamhome. They specialize in homes under $100K in far away lands.
They have shown everything from apartment living in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to balconied Grecian villas. From sunny Italy to snowy Sweden. And I always look at them and think, “Yeah, that would do for me.” But not really. That isn’t The Dream.
Sometimes you let yourself believe that you’ll have The Dream; that it will become real and you can live it. But most of the time, it exists as just that, a dream to reflect on and think about. A fantasia to fall asleep to, and a smile when you awake. But it is always there.
Mine appeared in one of their posts. It was a small cottage in the Liore Valley of France; a 2-bedroom stone cottage, with a garden and wood-beams. A place to live a quiet life, filled with bread, books, wine, and the sound of a fire in the hearth. I began to fill my head with those places; riding my bike to the bakery, speaking to shopkeepers as I bought what we needed for supper, writing in the little stone building. Sipping ice cold pinot grigio as I watched butterflies flit about in the garden.
If this year has taught us anything, it is that we can get by with far less than we thought we needed. The things I need are a cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine at night, health, food, and company. I have been fortunate to have all of those. I have been fortunate to have a job that I enjoy and is possible to do from home. I have heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer. I have my health, and am happy with that.
Of course there are things that I wish I had; a more walkable/bikeable place to live, and a good grocer nearby. More time to write, and a good place to do so. But there are also things that are harder to place. I wish I had a good place for my children to play safely. I wish I had a community. I wish I had time.
Most of these items would not be fixed by picking up and moving to France, even for a cottage that only costs $107,000. I would be moving kids and dogs and a wife, however willing she may be willing to go. I would be making it a two-day trip back to see my parents, and having to navigate a foreign country where I only vaugely speak the language. And I still would not have time.
This is what makes The Dream so hard to pin down. By the time you can have that cottage in France, your list of things that the dream is fixing has changed. Perhaps you can no longer ride a bike, or your children playing safely is no longer a concern, or the tax burden is no longer worth it. The winters are too cold, and wine gives you heartburn.
The Dream is unobtainable, but that doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming. It means we have to keep working.
Until next time, stay safe and keep dreaming my friends.