Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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296 words

When my grandma died, we took over her house in Uslar, a little village about 30 kilometres away from Göttingen. It’s a nice, 300+ year old half-timbred house in the middle of town. And we had it renovated 15 years ago, so it looks really nice. We rent out the two main levels of the house and have a little holiday flat for ourselves in the attic. And what can I say, we’ve always had trouble with the tenants. At least one of them has always been loud, destructive, broke, anti-social or all of the above. My parents have spent so much time and money on just keeping the place in shape that it’s not clear at all whether this is worth the trouble. After all the money we (should) get from the tenants should pay for the renovation which apparently was very expensive.

At the end of the year we ‘lost’ another tenant. She hadn’t paid her rent for the last months, all the neighbours had complained about the noise she made and the people running in and out there. Apparently it’s not easy to kick people out of their flats legally in Germany but in this case it went rather quickly. Luckily she left the flat without the need for physical force but she didn’t return her keys or meet my parents to have it checked. All she did is sent a short SMS to my dad.

So my mum went to Uslar to have a look at the flat this week. And its state was horrible. The walls were in a shade of yellow that you’d expect to see after a decade of smoking, not after less than a year. The carpet is totally stained and many things a broken. A complete mess:

Photo of stained walls and carpet.

January 9, 2005, 16:49


Comment by David Magda: User icon

“It’s a nice, 300+ year old half-timbred house in the middle of town.”

I think this statement summarizes a lot of things on long-term thinking. There is history in the “Old World” that the inhabitants of North America quite often fail to realize (or at least forget from time to time).

Although that history can cause issues, tradition tends to dampen out some of the oscillations of short-term fads.

January 9, 2005, 19:44

Comment by ssp: User icon

Houses seem to be more solidly built here in Europe. In a way that’s quite nice.

On the other had, it makes housing more expensive and makes it harder for people to buy homes. Having bought a house apparently makes Europeans even more reluctant to move to another place. Which of course can make sense from a social point of view as well. But it also makes people less mobile.

I read in the paper recently that in the US even home owners only stay in their houses for a few years on average.

January 10, 2005, 15:56

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Sven — I think it’s a generational thing. My parents owned the house I grew up in for 30 years, selling it when they retired. My sister, on the other hand, is in her 4th home since University… partially due to family circumstances but also because income level and low interest rates made it a feasible thing to do. I own the home my grandparents built 75 years ago, and have no plans to sell it.

January 10, 2005, 16:04

Comment by ssp: User icon

Dave, probably that plays a role, as well as more jobs requiring you to be mobile these days.

Perhaps the fact that cities are more ‘suburban’ in the U.S. also means people are less attached?

I don’t have any real idea about this. But usually people say “look over to the U.S. where people are moving around all the time” when wanting to point out that people are a bit immobile around here. (Those people mostly being businesspeople who complain about their inflexible employees, though.)

January 10, 2005, 16:10

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Certainly people feel little-to-no attachment to generic subdivisions in suburbs with no real history — a new development in, say, suburban Boston looks exactly like one in suburban Atlanta or suburban Portland, and with no real roots in these communities people don’t feel any real ties to them.

January 10, 2005, 16:17

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