About The American Dream

“Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth…
– James Truslow Adams 1931 –
(Photo of million dollar property in Malibu.)

When we think of achieving the American Dream, we often think of those who have accumulated material goods – as the dream is often embodied by home ownership or fancy cars or fashion. We might think of those who have risen the career ladder to prominence in a company or business. The American Dream is that of freedom of choice and abundance regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or class. It often challenges the “aristocratic norms” of the rest of the world whereby only the rich or well-connected are granted access to luxury.

I did a search and approximately 77,000 euros is the same as $100,000 US dollars. I wanted to use this figure to see if the American Dream of home ownership is attainable in other parts of the world. Are we as spoiled as I think we are? Or should I say, am I as spoiled as I think I am? Could I buy a house roughly the same as mine elsewhere?
My ancestry is French / Belgian and Slavic. So I wanted to see if I could buy a home today for about 77,000 euros that would compare to my home here in the states.  I started off in Kosovo and Montenegro. Kosovo was a bust. Montenegro netted some interesting sites. And just for the record – renting had a lot more options. However, back to the search.
There was one place that sort of intrigued me. It was right on the water and had a view of the Adriatic sea. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? Located in Risan, it has one floor with two bedrooms, bathroom and open plan living room/kitchen leading on to large terrace with storage room. The ad says “good opportunity to enhance with a second level and enough space to accommodate a swimming pool on 500 m2 of land.” But there are no interior pictures. However… it was interesting to look at.
It’s not the 3 bedroom 2 bath I have now. It’s also missing a 2 car garage. And… the square footage is 85 square meters. In short… it’s about 914 square feet – about the size of the first house we lived in when we got married. I’m not a fan of that small of space. However, the land around it more than makes up for that. Not enough to buy it.
Then I made the trip, as it were, to France, the options were more abundant thoughout the French countryside. Prices ranged from 55,000 euros on up to whatever your heart would want to pay. However, it was very difficult to find a detached residence with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms that didn’t require a serious amount of renovations (at least on the website I was looking at) to bring them up to the standards of which I have been accustomed.  (And now I’m sounding snooty, snobby or American?)
All things considered, America is a newer, more modern country.  Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world have a deep rich history dating back thousands of years.  We have the Native Americans, whose history we have pretty much obliterated, and that’s about it. The reason I bring this up is when I look at other countries and their homes, they take pride in the fact that a residence may be a couple of hundred years old.  Our entire country is only a few hundred years old. Their idea of a fixer-upper is definitely not what Americans would equate with a fixer-upper. 

The oldest house I could find for sale (at this time) is a 1720 Cape Cod style home for $1.25 mil. (Gasp!) And then again, it’s been refurbished through the years to add a second bathroom, central heat and air conditioning, etc. So… it’s not “original” though it’s apparently kept much of it’s original “charm” and character.

In looking at this house, I have to ask… why do we modernize and aim for “luxury?”  Why do we keep upgrading and changing things? I’m sure part of it is “comfort.” We want to be warm. We want to have indoor plumbing, electricity and all those things that make the universe in which we live a better place to be. But when I compare this little house Cape Cod style house to the truly historic homes in foreign lands that don’t have the central heat and air, have one bathroom and have kitchens that make my counter space look like it’s enough room to cook for a squadron of soldiers, I have to wonder why things are the way they are both for myself and for others.

The American Dream… a quest for growth, prosperity and freedom… and in ways that are really hard to define – definitively American.


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