Alice, I Feel Guilty About Having My Dream House

Alice, I Feel Guilty About Having My Dream House

Ask Alice
Oct 21, 2015
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Allard Laban)

Hi Alice,

I'm prepared for you all to hate me with the question I'm about to ask. But here goes: A few months ago I moved into what is, basically, my dream house. There's plenty of room for my partner and me and our two kids, it has an amazing backyard, it's in a great neighbourhood, close to good schools and cafes, etc etc. I'm having such a good time settling in to my new home, decorating it and turning it into an amazing family space.

The problem? I feel guilty!

We live in a city (Auckland, New Zealand) where housing is crazy unaffordable for most people. Most of my friends don't own their own homes, let alone a house like ours. The only reason we could even afford it was because my in-laws helped us out with an "early inheritance".

I feel like I'm showing off to my friends when I talk about it, even though decorating and design is a huge area of interest to me. I absolutely appreciate the generosity of my parents in law, and don't think I'm taking all that I have for granted, but I just can't reconcile the fact that I own this house without really contributing financially.

Guilt is not a helpful emotion, but how else should I feel?

Feeling Guilty

Dear Guilty,

You should feel lucky. And grateful. And it sounds like you feel both. Years ago a close friend's friend was engaged to a very wealthy guy. Not "fancy cars and leather jackets" wealthy, but "private jet"wealthy. After my friend met him I asked what her impression was. She replied, "He knows the value of a dollar." What she meant was that despite his wealth he understood that most people struggle financially, that most people work very hard for not that much money, and that most people don't have a financial safety net if something goes awry.

When someone is obtuse about money, it can feel insensitive and obnoxious, but you are clearly thoughtful about your dream house situation and how it may affect your friends. Your friends will, no doubt, have a range of reactions to your fortunate situation. It is hard not to feel envious of what our friends have. But you shouldn't censor yourself from talking about your home. If they're interested in talking about design with you, great. If they're not, find an online community where you can indulge your interest in decor.

I have friends who own beautiful homes and it can sometimes be a let down to return from their spacious, well-appointed homes to my small, rented apartment. But I hope that they continue to share their homes with me and my family and I hope you will with your friends, too. You don't have to throw a big, showy party to celebrate your home with friends. Have them over for pizza and beer suppers, pumpkin carving and cookies or game night. Let them enjoy your home, too.


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