Money Studies Articles and Resources

Your Housing History is a Key to Today's Decisions

By Lois Vitt

Today's housing decision is not just today's housing decision. Your housing history, which includes the values, wants and needs associated with every place you've ever called "home," continues to influence your housing decisions. Dreams and fantasies about having a happy and secure home, both a symbolic and a literal desire for children, endure for most people throughout adulthood. When you examine more closely your unique housing history, including your dreams and fantasies about the homes of your past, you will better understand your patterns - including success or failure - in making housing decisions.

When making housing decisions, you can unwittingly re-enact your original family culture without realizing it. In fact, you may be imitating a parent's housing behaviors even when you dislike those behaviors. When you establish an interpersonal relationship that will involve housing, you now are dealing with family housing patterns and cultures from two distinct pasts. Identifying your childhood relationships to home will help give you insight into what you value in your housing today. The goal is a home that fully reflects your adult values rather than the needs of your childhood.

In thirty minutes of serious reflection, you can record vital information about your housing history to inform future housing decisions.

  • Step one: Think carefully about what went on in your home(s) and how you interacted with the home itself, your room, the yard and porch, the other residents, visitors, neighbors and people in the larger community.
  • Step two: List your feelings about your favorite and least favorite homes in your past. Try to recall and record the events that caused the feelings.
  • Step three: Write a brief description of your positive home experiences. What did you enjoy? What were the special features? What else made it "home"?
  • Step four: Write a brief description of your negative home experiences: What did you dislike when you were in this home? What about the style, size, features or location made you unhappy?

Finally, compare your childhood homes with your positive and negative housing experiences as an adult. Do you recognize any childhood patterns or preferences brought into adulthood? If so, are they compatible with your adult values and lifestyle or do they cause disharmony? It is time to claim your adult housing values without ever again having to look back to childhood needs that are no longer viable.