After battling a summer cold for the past week I managed to get the best of it to the point I could do my regular run again of 6 miles. This run of course a bit more full of mucus as I coughed the last vestiges of green phlegm vacationing in my throat, but it was back to my regular schedule at my regular route.
My regular route is at "The Lakes" in Minneapolis. "The Lakes" refers to a group of 4 lakes within the city limits that have immaculately groomed trails, trees, and mansions of old-money fame (Pillsburys, Daytons, Cargills, etc.). I've enjoyed running around these lakes for the past 20 years, fancying in my youth someday I might be able to buy one of those houses.
My favorite house, however, is this one. An old Italian villa that if I ever had the money I would buy it.
Or, at least that's what I thought when I was 18 and first saw it. For now that I've doubled in age since first laying eyes on that house and dreaming that if I worked hard, such a house would be within my reach, my experience and wisdom has told me that such a house is the last thing I would want.
First, unless you have 10 children, a wife, and heck, staff and a mistress or two, the house is just not practical for your average bachelor, let alone family. You'll have tons of unused rooms and unless you have a ton of hobbies (telescopes, music, painting, etc.) they'll remain that way - unused. Heck, in my window-washing days I had seen the insides of enough mansions to realize most rooms, if even dedicated to "telescopes" or "piano rooms" are rarely used, essentially turning them into insanely expensive storage for insanely expensive, rarely practiced hobbies.
Second, the property taxes. I tutored a rather well-to-do woman who was getting her MBA. The property taxes ALONE on her house was $16,000 per year. That was more than I paid ON MY ENTIRE MORTGAGE per year. And this house, while very nice, was NO WHERE NEAR as luxurious as my Italian villa above. For that amount of money not only can you afford another entire house, but you could travel the world, staying in different places, having a much more interesting and adventuresome life.
Third, on a related note, property taxes again. Minneapolis is notorious for jacking up their property taxes at a rate 4 times that of inflation. My humble duplex I once owned was making me money until my property taxes went from $900 per year to $3,600 in less than a decade, making it no longer profitable AND A RISK TO EVEN OWN. In other words, it's not even an issue as to whether the property taxes are "high," it's an issue akin to nationalization or Cuba. Cities in major metro areas are headed up by socialists. And while they may not take the deed to your house from you, they'll just tax it to the point they've effectively confiscated it anyway, and now you are paying exorbitant rent to have the "privilege" to live in Minneapolis. In short that Italian villa would be nothing but a HUGE liability in that the city would attach such property taxes it becomes a debt to the city, not an asset to the individual.
Fourth, cleaning and heating and maintenance.
I know, I know. If you had the money to afford that house, you'd outsource the maintenance of the place and not worry about the heat bill, but I am talking from the standpoint of normal people who are looking from the outside, "dreaming" of what it would be like to own that house.
When you put this altogether, the house is very much like a hot trophy wife - pretty to look at, but not worth owning.
This is the house you want:
This house was for sale near a buddy's of mine. It is not flashy, it is not luxurious, but for your average bachelor or couple, this is all the house you'll ever need. It's cheap, it's small, it's easy to maintain and clean, and the city will never jack up the taxes on it to the point it loses it's value, and you will save money over the long haul in rent. And even if the city did "municipalize" it, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big of a loss because it can't become that big of a liability.
Of course, it's not as luxurious or prestigious as my Italian villa, but that is what I'm trying to get you to see past. That's ALL the Italian villa is. It's a pain in the ass AND a risk otherwise. In short, what I am trying to do is spare you the longing, envy, desire and pain I wasted countless calories of energy on as I ran past that and other luxury houses for the past 20 years. Yes, you may have your favorite house or houses, but unless you are filthy rich, there is no point yearning or sighing heavily to own such a house because if your did, YOU'D LIKELY REGRET IT.
So do what I do now every time I run past this or a home I really like a lot - look at it and enjoy its architectural beauty. Because, once again, like a trophy wife, its visual beauty is usually the best thing about it. And you can enjoy that for free.