Identity and Home

Since we've decided to buy a house in the suburbs...

Wait. Did I mention that we actually decided this? If not, well, we did. We've been back and forth over the issue a lot, and since the economy seems to be picking up in our area, and since we do have the money to do it as long as it's a relatively inexpensive house, we've decided just to take the plunge because it seems like the financially right thing to do at this point in our lives.

So, since we've made this decision, I've been thinking a lot about identity and how it interacts with the home you choose for yourself and your family. From where I see it, our lives could take two paths right now. 1) We could continue the apartment/condo living and move toward a more urban environment, which would be fun and good for our souls, but would mean spending more on rent because prices go up as you move toward the city, and would mean hellish commutes for both of us. 2) We could buy a house in the suburbs and stay there forever, which would be great to not have to think about moving again for a while, would be closer to our jobs and families, and would provide us more space, but would also feel a little... well... normal for my tastes.

Obviously, both scenarios have their pros and cons, and we've thought a lot about each of them together and come to the conclusion that, if we buy the house in the 'burbs, the pros outweigh the cons. We'd be closer to our jobs and our families, own our own property (which means not having to deal with crappy landlords), have a lot more space, not have to walk the dog three times a day because we'd have a yard, I'd have my own office, we'd build equity in the house... the list goes on and on.

When I think about these positives, I can clearly and logically see that it is the right choice, and I am excited to start looking at houses seriously this weekend. (We've looked before, but not really with the intent to buy.) I've been following tons of interior design blogs, too, and have so many awesome ideas for what I want the inside of our home to look like. Still, though, there's this nagging concern that I just can't seem to shake. To me, your home is your identity. If you live in the city, you're a cool cat, willing to explore and have fun. If you live in the suburbs, you're on the fast track to family life.

I know that's not true for everyone, but, to me, it seems wasteful to buy a house with all this space if we're not going to use it for anything - namely children. Now, we haven't decided about kids yet, but we know we're not getting there in the next few years. My fear is that, with all of these empty rooms, I'll start to feel pressured to get there a little faster. I also feel like, in a house that isn't as "offbeat" as I'd like, I'll just start feeling like a different person. No amount of funky furniture or paint colors can make a house different, I think.

What I need to do, really, is come to terms with the fact that buying a house doesn't have to make us fundamentally different than we are already. It shouldn't stop my writing or my activism. We can still go into the city as much as we want, or, at least, as much as we do now. It won't stop us from having a wonderful marriage. In short, buying a house in the 'burbs won't turn me into June Cleaver. But I think I might have to fight it a little bit.

What I'm really interested in is hearing your opinions on this. I know you all have faced decisions about where to live and why. How do you feel about home and identity? Are they as intertwined as I think they are?

Originally posted at Small Strokes.