Choosing Wanderlust Over Homeownership

by John Andersen


We live in Portland, Oregon. It's a popular city. Not surprisingly, housing prices are quite high. A few years back, we discovered we could either buy a house, or travel often as a family. But we couldn't do both. So we decided to forget the house, settle for renting, and heed the demands our wanderlust was making on us. We did this for three reasons.

  1. To Invest in Memories - Mandy and I both agree that some of the best memories we have are those we made while traveling. Before we got hitched up, we had both lived and traveled for an extended time in three different countries. So you could say we had developed a taste for travel; something we would not happily leave behind.

    We like to believe our children will remember the many family trips we've taken much more than they would the color of carpet in a house we may have owned. And we believe that good memories are a form of wealth; even a measure of success in life. So, we reasoned, why not make them a major part of our life's investment portfolio?

  2. To Strengthen Family Relationships - Our children aren't getting any younger. Their years living under our roof are limited. We feel now is the time to establish and cement relationships which we hope remain long after they grow up and leave us. Family trips are among the best ways we've found to accomplish that goal.

    On a similar note, Mandy's folks in England aren't going to be around forever, neither are my folks in California. It's a priority for us to see both sets of parents regularly.

    So now is not the time to be spending the bulk of our energy making the large sums of money necessary to afford what the mainstream society says a successful person should have. I suppose we could do that later after the children have moved out or the older generation has passed on. But by that time, we'll probably be itching to visit our own children and grandchildren. So I suppose as long as we live, we'll be able to make up good excuses for feeding our travel addiction.

    We believe and try to act as if time is our greatest asset. In our case, that means not squandering it on materialism when there are so many family-strengthening travel experiences to be had.

  3. To Follow Our Heart - Though at times it has been difficult to not walk in step with many of those around us, we've found that following our heart, particularly when it comes to making room for frequent family travel, brings us a deep sense of inner satisfaction. We love it when that happens.

    We fear that if we were to disobey the yearnings of our heart and instead heed peer and societal pressure to become homeowners, we could eventually suffer from pent up frustration and anger. That wouldn't be a good way to live. And so off we go on another jaunt....

This wanderlust addiction costs us plenty (and not just in dollars and cents), but we believe if we conscientiously heed it and feed it, it will continue to reward us with a measure of joy and happiness.

Why would we ever want to change that?


John Andersen is a self-employed carpet cleaner in Portland, Oregon. In his spare time he volunteers as a tour guide on a submarine, and as a docent at the Oregon Military Museum. He grew up in Southern California. During college, he took an eighteen month break to work in Germany. Later, he spent four years in England as an aircraft maintenance officer. At one point he was a member of a team that won the U.S. Air Forces in Europe bomb-loading championship. After that he moved to Indiana where he taught several college level German courses while working on a graduate degree in literature. John and his wife Mandy, homeschool their two children. Copyright John Andersen

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