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Old 12-14-2009, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Bradenton, Florida
27,238 posts, read 25,727,588 times
Reputation: 10554
Quote:
Originally Posted by KT13 View Post
You are comparing the poorest layer of society (marginal layer I must add as these are illegal immigrants) to the families of the past. You are also ignoring that illegal immigrants would view their situation as temporary, not aspiring to live like this for the rest of their lives. In the past there were group work-houses that accommodated the industrial age youth (many of whom used to be orphans anyway and had no place to go). But the row-houses, brownstones and victorians I am referring to were built as single family residences, they were later split into the apartments.

What I am trying to say, is that people of the past used to have various lifestyles, it's not like all of them lived in tiny-tini holes or crammed apartments and ate bread and pasta all day. Saying we should follow example of our ancestors is ignoring that they also had problems which we may not want to face in our modern society today.

Saying that our middle class should aspire to the lifestyle of the poorest layers of the society of the past or the poorest country residents is wrong, IMO. There is a healthy balance, no need to embrace extremes. We were on one end of the extreme with super-consumption and 3000 sq.ft homes for a family of 4 and multiple new cars and crazy debt accumulation. Easing from it doesn't mean we have to scramble along with a family of 4 stuck in a 500 sq. ft hole (a size of an average studio).
How do you know that they DO aspire to more? Maybe they're perfectly satisfied.

Tiny Homes and Small Houses
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:23 PM
 
8,017 posts, read 20,647,085 times
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I think that both the OP (memphis1979) and ChrisC are working from a false premise.

I grew up in the 1950's-early 1960's ... in a lower to mid level middle class area in the West. People weren't living in 600 sq ft homes then, and when I visited friends in lower income areas, they too, weren't living in 600 sq ft homes. I grew up in early 1900's vintage houses that were 1,200 to 1,600 sq ft, and I had a lot of friends in houses ... even in "poorer" neighborhoods than where we lived ... that dwarfed our family home.

Even at that, I've been in a lot of apartments that were built in the late 1800's through the era just prior to WWII. Many of them dwarf the homes I've bought, at 1,500 to 2,000 sq ft. Built in an era when it wasn't uncommon for a family to rent long term rather than buy a house.

As a real estate investor, I've been all over the Rocky Mountain west, and many of the homes I've looked at ... in cities, as well as "farm houses" ... vintage late 1880's through 1950's ... were all much larger than 1,200 through 1,500 sq ft. The multi-story houses I looked at (and several I've bought) in Denver, Boulder, and surrounding areas were all in the 2,000 through 3,500 sq ft range, targeted to multi-generational family living.

We had to look far and wide to find a farm/ranch that meets our current needs, and the farmhouse here is a slip-formed concrete structure that was built by the owners as time/finances allowed. It's now 1,200 sq ft of finished space, expanded in the 1950 era ... but I have 3 workshops, 2 garages, 2 large barns with loft areas, and several additional outbuildings. I looked at a lot more older farmhouses in the region, and many dwarf this structure. Again, they were targeted to multi-generational living.

Interesting, too, that there's so many "craftsman" homes along this region. They were inexpensive homes for somebody with the ability and time to build their own home from a kit. Looking at the catalogue offerings, along with the actual homes selected/purchased by the original owners in the early 20th century ... certainly wouldn't support any conclusion that folks wanted to live in plain-jane small houses of 600 sq ft.

Indeed, the lower income neighborhoods I've looked at to buy investment properties ... say West of Santa Fe Drive and North of 8th Ave in Denver ... still had houses that were substantially larger than that, although typically only 1 bathroom and not much in the way of finish. Functional and livable at a low cost, I've worked in many of these houses back in the 1960's when I was putting myself through school.

Another difference here is that everybody that I knew of in school had both parents working. From my perspective, it was an era of men and women doing typical stereotyped jobs ... but both worked. I know in our family it was the incremental difference of income from my Mom's employment that allowed us to live in a more upscale neighborhood and have two cars. Even when I was a toddler (back in Wantagh, Long Island) ... we had a 2 bdr/1ba house of well over 1,000 sq ft, with a "fancy" built-in dining area in the kitchen and a formal dining room in addition to the living room. I recall that the bedrooms were rather small, but the living spaces were pretty large. Our house was one of the few without a finished basement, which just had our utility spaces and a model train layout.

I know that FHA requirements for financing excluded houses under 650 sq ft for awhile (and may still do so, I don't know what the current requirements are), which made buying one of these a tough go for somebody without good credit or a owner-carry mortgage. With the ability to get a good loan, it would have been easier for most to buy a larger home than under that threshold size, even though the total purchase price may have been higher.

When I got married, my first family house cost $18,500 (2 bd/1ba, on a 100'x150' corner lot) ... solid brick cosntruction with a full basement. Nothing fancy, but 900 sq ft and a lot of room to finish out in the basement for bedrooms and playroom to make a lot of functional living space. I was earning $12.50/hour as a diesel tech, and teaching (35 hours/week) at a motorcycle tech training school for $15/hr. Just about all the houses in that neighborhood (which was built specifically for 2-35 program buyers, starting at $12,500 price points for our model house) were finished in the basements. Most every family there finished the basements, and as their 2-35 subsidy shrunk as they earned more money ... they all sold out for a profit and bought larger more upscale homes in nicer neighborhoods while retaining the same monthly cost.

I'd bought investment homes in Boulder years before that ... and every one of them was at least 2,600 sq ft. Most were two story houses, some were finished out with apartments in the basement. At $30,000 for my first one, it cash flowed immediately and gave me a place to live (I liked the basement apartments ... cool in summer, warm in winter). Those houses were all late 1890's through 1940's built houses ... again, targeted for multi-generational family living.

I think that's what separates today's single generation from those older ones. The older ones were still living at home until they could really afford to move out, and their expectations were to either live in a modest apartment or rooming house ... even when they first got married. They didn't have the resources or the "need" to have every electronic gadget, multiple toys, multiple motor vehicles, and they didn't spend a lot of money on flashy anything (clothing, jewelry, shoes, sports gear, etc), nor on expensive entertainments.

Looking back at my own track record ... I was working 75 hours + per week when I first got married to support my wife (who had a Fed GS-5 job in a sec'y pool) and soon to arrive child that first year. I wasn't making a lot of money, and I didn't have a lot of toys. I didn't even own a TV until after my first child was born and my wife "needed" to have one to keep her company during the days at home ... even that was an old Packard Bell console, tube model that took about 4-5 minutes to warm up and bring in a signal. We bought a lot of our needed household goods at flea markets, used stores, auctions, and made do with what we had (which sometimes was pretty top quality stuff that folks got rid of ....). I was thankful that my work clothes were supplied by my main employer and I even had a work shoe allowance (although it didn't go very far buying RedWing 101's, which were the only shoe that held up ....). Now, through the years of owning my own businesses, living frugally, and investing every year ... I own a pretty good portfolio of real estate, have other investments, my fleet of vehicles, and the financial ability to retire if I wanted to ... and I never made a huge income, never had the drive to do that .....

My point of all this is that most folks who "can't make it" aren't separating the "wants" from the "needs" to get through life. If a fast-food counter job isn't getting the income for you that will bring you what you want in life, then you need to upgrade your skills and value to employers (or your own business ... I had a friend who went from waitress to a "lunch wagon" operator and made more money than I did ... and she was done by 3 PM everyday). Even at that, I know several former counter people who have moved on to management positons and make around $75K .... not bad money in our area where you can buy nice houses for $125K.

It's interesting to note that when I see the lifestyles out here in ag country out West ... families clung together where everybody worked. There was a reason and logic to large families ... the "hands" were needed. When I read of the folks out here, I don't see where wives were stay-at-home family members ... they were out in the fields operating equipment, taking care of livestock, helping with the chores at branding, calving, lambing, haying, planting, harvesting, putting up foodstuffs, making a lot of the farm clothing ... and the "town" women weren't living a leisurely life, either. There were a whole host of "women's" jobs they worked at ... clerking, bookkeeping, sales, teaching, hospitality, waitressing, cooks, housecleaners, maids, nursing ..... Historically, this aspect of full employment goes back well into the 1880's in the Western USA. It was the rare woman who didn't have to work to help her family survive ....

I know that I got by for a lot of years on a very minimal income ... I had a lot of fun, enjoyed what I did for an income, and still found time for leisure pursuits. Perhaps I created a lot of that time by not spending it in bars or sitting in front of a tube ... I don't follow any "sports", so that seems to be a big chunk of my week that I have compared to a number of neighbors whose lives revolve around "the game" ....

Last edited by sunsprit; 12-14-2009 at 05:37 PM..
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:42 AM
 
Location: Southern Oregon
3,948 posts, read 2,894,547 times
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Default Singles people can't support themselves

I think kids that are raised to depend on themselves are able to take care of themselves, and kids that are given everything they have begin to expect that somebody owes them. I have 4 children, two boys and two girls. The wives of the boys stay home and don't work, while both girls have worked most of their married lives. My oldest son made a downpayment on his first house when he was 19 years old. None of my children have asked for or needed financial help. I have a stepson (from my second wife) who is a video game whiz, but he didn't graduate from high school and has a job as a carpenter that doesn't pay when he's not working. He just barely gets by, and does only because he lives with his sister and her husband. When he complains about not making enough money I tell him to get a second job if he wants to make more money. He can't understand why not many people want to hire a poorly dressed highschool drop out with long hair. When it comes right down to it, he would rather sit on his butt and play a video game rather than work. I'm glad that my wife understands that giving him money doesn't help him, it just makes him expect more money. All of his life his mother, sister, and gradmother have made excuses for him, but he's not a kid anymore, he's 35 years old.
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:49 AM
 
Location: California
24,948 posts, read 15,544,049 times
Reputation: 17301
Quote:
My oldest son made a downpayment on his first house when he was 19 years old
That's swell, but there must be more to this story or some reason he was able to do this besides working an afterschool job or whatever. While I understand what you are saying and agree with most of it, making statements like this while suggesting it's perfectly normal if you aren't lazy, well, it doesn't fly.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:02 AM
 
Location: Bradenton, Florida
27,238 posts, read 25,727,588 times
Reputation: 10554
All I know is that I always paid my own way, and often the way of my SO as well, since none of them ever worked while they were with me. It can be done, and you don't have to have a superlative salary to do it. I have a room mate now, but I pay 2/3 of the total bills, and could take on the full expense.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:38 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
3,087 posts, read 2,877,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
I have been asking this for years on boards like this. Nobody has an answer.

In the 40s and 50s, a family of five lived on the earnings of one man with a fulltime job. Today, a family of three can barely get by on the earnings of two adults with fulltime jobs.

Why has a fulltime wage been lowered from the living costs of five people, down to the living costs of less than two people? Or, why has the cost of living per person risen from 1/5 of a fulltime wage to almost a whole fulltime wage? Without the quality of life getting any better.
I think the answer to that is multi-faceted. One, real wages, adjusted for inflation, have been steadily declining for the most blue collare and lower end white collar workers. At the same time, societal expectations for having the "luxuries". . . things like T.V. sets, VCR / DVD devices, Computers, Electronic games, etc., not to mention designer clothing "fancy" homes ( you know, the ones with granite coutertops, backyard playgrounds, 4+ bedrooms, bathrooms, "family" rooms, etc.), elaborate vacations, multiple vehicles is so endemic that those without most if not all of these things feel "unsucessful" in society. So the pressure to have and do, on less and less, and the (until recently) availability of easy credit has places families and individuals that look "normal" into extreme economic distress. Pervasive advertising creates an appetite for more and more of whatever, and those who choose to live a simpler life must actually go to extreme measures to do this. I see no "fix" for this situation without a real psycological shift in societal norms. . . and I beleive that this would only happen in the case of extreme country wide or worldwide disaster. Not possible to hope for that, so?. . . . .
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Forty Fort
4,017 posts, read 2,862,499 times
Reputation: 8449
Quote:
Originally Posted by GOPATTA2D View Post
The simple answer is that women entered the workforce doubling the supply of workers.
A little too simplistic. After WW II, the women who entered the work force to "man" the defense plants when the men were on the battlefield were only too happy to return to their pre-war homemaking status. Bearing in mind that at the time, good money was $17. or $18. a week.
Also, everyone had learned to do without a lot of things during the war years, and people continued to be frugal and by doing so, were able to save more quickly for a down payment on a house. Houses were quickly being built, like the Levittowns, to accommodate the numbers of families who were able to afford a home because of the GI Bill. Until then, many women lived with his or her parents while he was away, or they shared with another woman in similar circumstances.

Children were not indulged, malls hadn't yet proliferated, education was valued. But most of all, Greed hadn't really reared its ugly head. Business owners were happy to make a reasonble profit. It wasn't necessary to be "Bigger and Better". If John's Market was out of something and Harry's Market had it, John would tell his customer where to get that item, and Harry would return the favor. People were kinder. Children were better behaved. There was money to spend.

Some shrewd developer said, "Let's build us a mall, and put all the stores under one roof and capture some of those dollars". With cars once again on the assembly line (production was on hold during the war years), people became more mobile and found it convenient to go to the mall, park, shop, eat, see a movie, and before you know it, malls were popping up all over like mushrooms after a rain. And the lure of goods was too much to resist.

Television entered the landscape and was enticing us with all of the wonderful things that we didn't know we needed. Automatic washers, automatic dryers, TV dinners - all lightened the previously drudgery of housekeeping and freed up women everywhere to fill some of those no-longer used hours with a job. And the job begat money, and the money begat more "things" to buy, and the lady next door said, "I want those things, too" and went and got her own job so she could keep up, and then the competition began in earnest.

After acquiring every possible appliance, garment and hobby accoutrement, a bigger home was required to put it in, and bigger homes were built. Doesn't it amaze you that where once people survived with and outhouse and a Saturday night bath in the big tin washtub, now it is a requirement that no home have less than two full and a couple of half-baths? Where once people gathered as a family in the kitchen, we now have a bedroom for each, a living room, a family room, an office, which isolates family members from one another.

Children are indulged to the point where they have to have every new thing that comes along. It isn't any wonder that they can't afford to live on their own when they're obligated to pay for all the wonderments they can't do without.

Add corporate greed into the mix and you pretty much have the picture.

The times have changed, and not necessarily for the better.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:24 PM
 
13,718 posts, read 11,177,746 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theatergypsy View Post
A little too simplistic. After WW II, the women who entered the work force to "man" the defense plants when the men were on the battlefield were only too happy to return to their pre-war homemaking status. Bearing in mind that at the time, good money was $17. or $18. a week.
Also, everyone had learned to do without a lot of things during the war years, and people continued to be frugal and by doing so, were able to save more quickly for a down payment on a house. Houses were quickly being built, like the Levittowns, to accommodate the numbers of families who were able to afford a home because of the GI Bill. Until then, many women lived with his or her parents while he was away, or they shared with another woman in similar circumstances.

Children were not indulged, malls hadn't yet proliferated, education was valued. But most of all, Greed hadn't really reared its ugly head. Business owners were happy to make a reasonble profit. It wasn't necessary to be "Bigger and Better". If John's Market was out of something and Harry's Market had it, John would tell his customer where to get that item, and Harry would return the favor. People were kinder. Children were better behaved. There was money to spend.

Some shrewd developer said, "Let's build us a mall, and put all the stores under one roof and capture some of those dollars". With cars once again on the assembly line (production was on hold during the war years), people became more mobile and found it convenient to go to the mall, park, shop, eat, see a movie, and before you know it, malls were popping up all over like mushrooms after a rain. And the lure of goods was too much to resist.

Television entered the landscape and was enticing us with all of the wonderful things that we didn't know we needed. Automatic washers, automatic dryers, TV dinners - all lightened the previously drudgery of housekeeping and freed up women everywhere to fill some of those no-longer used hours with a job. And the job begat money, and the money begat more "things" to buy, and the lady next door said, "I want those things, too" and went and got her own job so she could keep up, and then the competition began in earnest.

After acquiring every possible appliance, garment and hobby accoutrement, a bigger home was required to put it in, and bigger homes were built. Doesn't it amaze you that where once people survived with and outhouse and a Saturday night bath in the big tin washtub, now it is a requirement that no home have less than two full and a couple of half-baths? Where once people gathered as a family in the kitchen, we now have a bedroom for each, a living room, a family room, an office, which isolates family members from one another.

Children are indulged to the point where they have to have every new thing that comes along. It isn't any wonder that they can't afford to live on their own when they're obligated to pay for all the wonderments they can't do without.

Add corporate greed into the mix and you pretty much have the picture.

The times have changed, and not necessarily for the better.
Good points, all.

One thing you touched on here but didn't quite nail down was that when women returned to the work force en masse in the 1960s and 1970s, that second income wasn't saved to get ahead financially. It got spent on housing....which drove up prices for houses, especially ones in good school districts. Starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s, credit standards were relaxed for all kinds of loans, including home loans, which further drove up home prices, further intensifying the bidding wars, leading eventually to the housing bubble that took us all off a cliff....which we have now "fixed" by issuing huge amounts of government debt to replace the insanely high levels of mortgage and consumer debt
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:34 PM
 
41,038 posts, read 43,496,185 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
I have been asking this for years on boards like this. Nobody has an answer.

In the 40s and 50s, a family of five lived on the earnings of one man with a fulltime job. Today, a family of three can barely get by on the earnings of two adults with fulltime jobs.

Why has a fulltime wage been lowered from the living costs of five people, down to the living costs of less than two people? Or, why has the cost of living per person risen from 1/5 of a fulltime wage to almost a whole fulltime wage? Without the quality of life getting any better.
Istil kmow people who lvie on one income like my parents did. But that isn't what most want these days. They bascailly budget and don't buy what is common today. None have the internet I know of. Most don't have cable or sellphne and all the trap[pign we think is necessary. They don't have twqo cars and the wife drives the husband to work or he car pools;they don't eat otu except of special occasions;they don't have ready made snacks and soft drink most of the time. Even then they live overall better than my parents did when I was a kid. My parents were one income and very middle class.
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:25 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
7,820 posts, read 4,041,259 times
Reputation: 3228
The simple fact: inequitable trade.
The cause: socialist government.

Rough guesstimate is that the average American pays 31% of his gross remuneration to the Federal government (income, SocSec, and a host of other hidden taxes)
Add in your state (varies), and you can see that the average American is laboring far too much for the benefit of others... and that dead weight is unbearable.

The "fleas" of socialist / progressive government are about to kill the host.

Pity.
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