A UCLA anthropologist studied the use of garages and lawns by dual-income middle class southern California families and found that garages were so stuffed with clutter that cars couldn’t fit in them and the carefully maintained yards were practically never used for leisure.
Trapped in an energy-draining work-and-spend cycle, many young dual-earner families seem to fuel their stress and frustration by buying more possessions than their homes can absorb, adding to their debt and routinely conscripting crowded garage spaces to function as chaotic storage rooms.
Running faster and faster to stay in the same place with no time to enjoy it? How sad. The real driving force here is the steep SoCal real estate prices. Just keeping up with the mortgage generally requires that more than one person works. Then there’s the commutes. When Sue was doing her 90 minute drive each way to get to a client 17 miles away in LA, she didn’t have time or energy to do much of anything after she got home. No doubt millions of others in LA are the same.
So, not only does the garage get cluttered with toys, it’s cluttered because no one has time to clean it out or even to enjoy the yard (if they’re lucky enough to have one.) These are among the reasons Sue and I moved to Connecticut last week. I’m looking out the window at the wooded backyard from our house where the basement alone is bigger than many tract homes in LA and we bought it for what you can’t get a 1 bdr condo in the San Fernando Valley for. And we’ll have time to enjoy it all because the mortgage is tiny and the commutes mercifully uncrowded.
Interesting, isn’t it, how financial considerations can influence so many facets of one’s life? In LA, if you have a steep mortage or rent, you may be forced to drive long distances just to pay for it all, whereas in areas with saner housing prices, things are quite a lot more relaxed.