An important part of simple, peaceful life is discharging your debts; not always easy, as circumstances can be different, but it is an essential. And when I say debt, I include mortgage in the definition as well; I’m not saying a mortgage is always wrong, and never acceptable, but today people tend to forget that mortgage really is a state of debt; that a mortgage means one is not really an owner of one’s home, or at least, an owner only conditionally – because if something happens and the payment cannot be made (in a case, say, of an illness and/or unemployment), the owners face a very real danger of losing their home.
Owning the roof above one’s head, free and clear, is therefore an important part of one’s peace of mind. If your home is your own (as much as any earthly possession can truly be our own), a reduction or loss of income is, of course, a blow – but at least you have your safe haven, which is yours, and you don’t owe anyone anything for being under that roof.
Having said that, I will allow myself a little vent and say that, at least in Israel, paying for a home without a mortgage is a near-impossibility, as the prices of land, and consequently housing, are very, very high. Most young families – unless they are fortunate enough to inherit property, or to have parents who can assist them in a very material way – face being bogged down by very considerable, suffocating debt.
Is there no cheap land or housing to be found here? To be sure there is; and we did find it when we were first married, even though it wasn’t exactly the home of our dreams, and we have moved since. We rented for a couple of years, and these days we once more live in a home we have bought outright, no mortgage. It was hard, hard to find and involved many compromises, but we did it. When people here are rioting for “affordable housing”, I think they ought to amend and say they actually mean, “affordable housing in the tiny over-crowded piece of land that comprises most of the country’s population” – which, in all fairness, I don’t think possible. Yes, there are sparsely populated areas with affordable housing – but the problem is, to live in such an area means fewer opportunities of employment.
Obviously, each situation is unique, but there may be several options. Working from home, or mainly from home, is one; re-considering the possible length of commute is another – some people park their cars at the nearest train station, and make the chief of their daily journey by train. Or a family may move to a less expensive area as a temporary measure, to obtain low rent, and scrimp and save for a few years to be able to buy a home in a better area with no or lower mortgage.
Another thing I wish for is that we weren’t so bogged down with the difficulty of building regulations. Say “Israel” and “building” in one phrase, and you’re up to political flare-up. These difficulties, along with government avarice, have caused housing prices to soar in recent years. For illustration, the little house we had bought back when we first married (and since sold at twice the price), now costs five times more than it had a decade ago. Did the salaries rise five times over, on average? No, of course not. They stayed more or less the same. Thus the housing issue continues to be really, really tough, and people keep looking for creative solutions.
I believe there is no real solution but a government decision to take the plunge and make use of the abundant land in politically controversial area. In the meantime, people will have to keep searching high and low for individual housing, financial and employment solutions, and pave their own way towards freedom and debt reduction.
4 thoughts on “Debt-free life and peace of mind”
I HATE when people call homes an investment opportunity, like it’s something you are supposed to stay in 5 years and sell at a profit! No! Homes are for living in and comfort should override value. It boggles my mind when people complain that their home’s value has gone down when they have no intention of selling!
But, housing regulations are supposed to be a good thing. Look at the Grenfell fire in London or the building collapses during earthquakes all around the world contributed to by shoddy construction. Building codes exist to hopefully protect families and their property and I’d much rather live in a place where building codes result in higher prices than someplace where prices are artificially inflated by the demand for profit.
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I don’t refer to safety building regulations, but to the building restrictions which exist in certain parts of Israel, such as the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, for political reasons.
You are straying into very sensitive issues, when you suggest Israelis should build debt free safe houses on land which 164 states do not believe belong to Israel. It’s thoroughly impolite to build a house in someone else’s garden. In fact we have laws to protect those who own a strip of land against others moving in and building on it. I long for a peaceful solution. Both Israelis and Palestinians should be able to live in safe and secure homes. I see the conflict as a reflection of inner pain, after hundreds of years of persecution. It is understandable to wish to shield the pain from further assault and secure a protected future, but peace of mind will not be achieved by fighting with one’s neighbour. Perhaps it will take a few generations to see the futility of acting from a place of pain and fear. How do you see a fair resolution to this hugely difficult situation. Surely a peaceful one.
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If the West Bank doesn’t belong to Israel, we might as well all pack our bags now, because maintaining defensible borders would be impossible.
The land we personally live on was purchased with honest money and through honest means by a Jewish man from an Arab who had nothing to do with this rocky wasteland. Nobody was robbed or banished from their home. The Jew then proceeded to hand out parcels of land to settlers. Similarly, many modern Israeli cities were built on private land purchased from private people.
Nevertheless, though the land was fairly purchased, the government throws huge obstacles in the way of Jewish settlers, while turning a blind eye to the violation of building regulations by Muslims.
How this is fair or democratic I fail to see.