Moving sideways: The story of one poor little rich home owner

million-dollar home
A decade later my house has doubled in value. It is worth a million dollars, and I’m stuck in it, says this poor little rich home owner.

Ten years ago my husband and I bought an expensive but relatively affordable house. An overpriced starter home on a lovely street in an up-and-coming neighbourhood. The loose plan was to live here, save some money and eventually move up in the housing market, to our forever home. You know, a swankier home with all the comforts we responsibly sacrificed to afford our current one.

A decade later my house has doubled in value. It is worth a million dollars, and I’m stuck in it.

Being a millionaire has a different meaning than it used to. Instead of swimmin’ pools and movie stars, it now represents an aging home with no insulation and nails sticking up from ancient hardwood floors. Nails that tear holes in my socks, so that I pad around my million dollar shack dressed like a hobo. This is the new face (feet?) of poverty in Toronto, folks.

Don’t misunderstand—I feel blessed to have a roof over my head, even if the age of that roof looms over me (will this be the year it needs replacing?). Our little million-dollar home is lovely in so many ways. It boasts an open concept main floor, a family room addition, and I don’t want to brag, but I have a main-floor powder room. Yep, we are living the Toronto dream. On the other hand, we don’t have parking or central air, and I live with three males; is an ensuite bathroom too much to ask?

What a million-dollar home in Toronto gets you

You know who is asking too much? All the sellers of homes slightly better than mine. It turns out that a million dollars plus some hard earned savings and a little more from the bank gets me a prettier version of my house. The dreaded lateral move.

And I won’t do it. I won’t trade my powder room for new hardwood floors that don’t squeak. I refuse to give up my basement addition just to get a master ensuite. And I don’t want to move out of our lovely neighbourhood just to have a central air. I want it all, and as a result I’m going nowhere.

MLS is now my home screen, ‘looking at houses’ is my weekend plan, and my agent teases me daily with lovely listings and pretty houses that tempt me with wallpapered accent walls and white marbled bathrooms. We will stay the course, remembering that we aren’t new to this game, and won’t be lured by fresh mulch on newly landscaped gardens. Substance over shine for us, and until the (near) perfect home finds us, we will stay put and keep hammering those floor nails down. And maybe update our kitchen cabinets; buyers fall for that all the time.

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